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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. KENNETH NED INGBER (10/06/87)

decided: October 6, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
KENNETH NED INGBER, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court entered March 15, 1985, at No. 145 Philadelphia 1984, affirming the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Criminal Division, entered February 3, 1984, at No. 1581 of 1983. 343 Pa. Supr. 610, 494 A.2d 480 (1985).

COUNSEL

John R. Crayton, Bensalem, for appellant.

Christopher Serpico, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Papadakos, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Larsen, J., joins.

Author: Nix

[ 516 Pa. Page 4]

OPINION

The principal issue in the instant appeal is whether the trial court erred in refusing a defense challenge for cause to a venireperson who had acknowledged that she was related to a police officer and would give a police officer's testimony greater weight merely because of his official status. If we determine that this refusal was error, we must then decide whether, in view of the fact that the defendant had exhausted his allotted peremptory challenges prior to the seating of the jury, a new trial must be awarded.

I.

Appellant Kenneth Ned Ingber was arrested on March 25, 1983, in connection with an attack on his common law wife, Mary Ingber, two days earlier. He was charged with attempted homicide and two counts each of simple and aggravated assault, as well as reckless endangerment and terroristic threats. After a preliminary hearing before a district justice, appellant was held for court on all charges. The principal evidence presented by the Commonwealth at

[ 516 Pa. Page 5]

    that hearing was a tape-recording and transcript of a statement given to the police by the victim of the attack. Appellant subsequently filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County challenging the sufficiency of the evidence adduced by the Commonwealth at his preliminary hearing. That court entered an order on June 6, 1983, directing that a hearing be held on the petition on June 9, 1983. The record does not reflect that such a hearing was conducted. An order discharging the writ of habeas corpus was entered by the court of common pleas on June 22, 1983.

Appellant was tried before a jury from June 27 to 29, 1983. At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's case, appellant demurred as to all charges except simple assault. The trial court dismissed all charges except reckless endangerment and one count of simple assault. The jury subsequently convicted appellant of those remaining charges. Appellant's post-verdict motions were denied on January 10, 1984, and he was sentenced to six to twenty-three months' incarceration on February 3, 1984.*fn1 On direct appeal a Superior Court panel affirmed, filing a memorandum opinion. Commonwealth v. Ingber, 343 Pa. Super. 610, 494 A.2d 480 (1985). This Court granted appellant's petition for allowance of appeal.

II.

Appellant argues that two veniremen exhibited bias, one toward him and the other in favor of police officers, and that his challenges for cause to those prospective jurors were improperly denied. As a result of the trial ...


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