Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Entered August 1, 1979, at Nos. 2086v and 2089 January Term, 1979.
Michael J. McAllister, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Gaele McLaughlin Barthold, Deputy Dist. Atty., Ronald Eisenberg, Chief, Appeals Div., Susan Willcox, Marion E. MacIntyre, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Zappala, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Larsen, J., files a concurring opinion in which McDermott, J., joins.
This is a direct appeal as of right from the imposition of a judgment of sentence of death, 42 Pa.C.S. § 722(4), 9711(h).*fn1 Appellant was tried by a jury in August, 1979, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Judge Edwin S. Malmed presiding. Appellant was convicted of first degree murder and robbery of the victim, Joyce Hunsicker, and
was sentenced to death pursuant to the jury's determination.*fn2
The record facts reveal that on Sunday, September 14, 1978, Joyce Hunsicker was found dead in her bed with a bullet lodged just below her left earlobe. Sometime during the late evening hours of September 12, or the early morning hours of September 13,*fn3 Hunsicker's killer was present in her bedroom, placed a pillow over her head, and shot her with a .38 caliber pearl-handled, semi-automatic pistol, killing her instantly. Missing from the decedent's left hand ring finger were two rings, a gold wedding band, and a matching diamond engagement ring.
The Commonwealth's evidence implicating Appellant in the murder of Joyce Hunsicker and the robbery of her two rings was entirely circumstantial and consisted primarily of his incriminating admissions to two Commonwealth witnesses, Sandra Jenkins and Philip Fioravante.
Jenkins testified that she was socializing with the decedent, the Appellant, and other friends at her apartment on September 12, 1978. Early that evening, the decedent left the apartment but telephoned a half hour later to inquire whether Appellant would walk her home from a neighborhood restaurant. When advised of Hunsicker's request, Appellant left the apartment. Appellant, who was boarding in Jenkins' apartment at the time, telephoned a half hour later to say he wasn't returning that ...