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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PAUL J. LAPCEVICH (06/18/87)

filed: June 18, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PAUL J. LAPCEVICH, III, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, Criminal Division, No. 392 CRIMINAL 1982.

COUNSEL

Charles F. Gilchrest, Sharon, for appellant.

Lorinda L. Hinch, Assistant District Attorney, Mercer, for Com., appellee.

Rowley, Del Sole and Tamilia, JJ. Del Sole, J., joined by Rowley, J., concur.

Author: Tamilia

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 152]

On November 27, 1985, appellant, Paul J. Lapcevich, III, was convicted by a jury of arson, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3301(c)(3), and criminal conspiracy to commit arson, 18 Pa.C.S. § 903.*fn1 Post-trial motions were denied and judgments of sentence were entered in which appellant was sentenced to a term of incarceration of one and one-half (1 1/2) to ten (10) years for the arson conviction and one (1) to six (6) years for the conspiracy conviction, both to run consecutively, as well as

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 153]

    ordered to make restitution in the amount of $11,507.06. Appellant brought a timely motion to modify sentence on August 14, 1986, which was denied by the trial court by Order dated August 18, 1986. A timely appeal to this Court was filed on September 3, 1986.

Appellant first argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient as a matter of law to support the convictions because the allegedly unsupported and uncorroborated testimony of the physical perpetrator of the crime, David Atwell, was so uncertain, vague, contradictory and inconsistent so as to be utterly lacking in credibility. Our scope of review for evaluating claims based on the sufficiency of the evidence is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and drawing all reasonable inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, there is sufficient evidence to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Harper, 485 Pa. 572, 403 A.2d 536 (1979); Commonwealth v. Griscavage, 336 Pa. Super. 141, 485 A.2d 470 (1984). Guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be shown wholly by circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Shirey, 343 Pa. Super. 189, 494 A.2d 420 (1985); Commonwealth v. Alvarado, 333 Pa. Super. 63, 481 A.2d 1223 (1984). "A jury may convict even on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice." Commonwealth v. Goldblum, 498 Pa. 455, 466, 447 A.2d 234, 240 (1982); Commonwealth v. Hamm, 325 Pa. Super. 401, 473 A.2d 128 (1984); Commonwealth v. Hartzell, 320 Pa. Super. 249, 467 A.2d 22 (1983).

Atwell had been tried and found guilty of arson, criminal conspiracy and criminal mischief in an earlier trial, in which he did not testify, concerning the same fire in question here. In this case, Atwell testified that he conspired with appellant to set the fire for pay from appellant at a time when appellant would be out-of-town and forming an alibi. As in Goldblum, supra, appellant's contention is not that this evidence is insufficient, since Atwell's testimony alone would be enough to convict, but that Atwell's testimony must be omitted from consideration because it was uncertain, contradictory and inconsistent, leaving the conviction

[ 364 Pa. Super. Page 154]

    supported by inadequate circumstantial evidence at best.

Most of the contradictions appellant relies upon are discrepancies between Atwell's trial testimony and his pre-trial statements to insurance investigators as well as his prior statements under oath. Brief for Appellant at 6-8. We find appellant's argument controlled by Goldblum, ...


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