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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PAUL SCHEUING (02/29/88)

decided: February 29, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
PAUL SCHEUING, APPELLANT



Appeal from Final Order of July 19, 1985, in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, at No. 00114PHL1984, affirming the Judgment of Sentence of December 12, 1983, in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, at No. 981-82. 348 Pa. Super. 634, 501 A.2d 293 (1985).

COUNSEL

Joan Duncan Brown, Norristown, for appellant.

Mary M. Killinger Chief, Appeals Div., Gregory P. Voci, Norristown, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Hutchinson, Former Justice, did not participate in the decision of this case. McDermott, J., filed a concurring opinion.

Author: Zappala

[ 517 Pa. Page 408]

Opinion

Appellant Paul Scheuing was convicted of three counts of homicide by vehicle, 75 Pa.C.S. § 3732, relating to the deaths of three people who had been occupants of two automobiles with which the Appellant's tractor-trailer collided. The Appellant was sentenced to three concurrent terms of imprisonment of from four and one-half months to twenty-three months on the homicide convictions. Sentence on the remaining summary offenses was suspended.

On appeal to the Superior Court, 348 Pa. Super. 634, 501 A.2d 293, a per curiam order was entered affirming the sentence on the traffic violations. The Superior Court vacated the suspended sentence, sua sponte raising the invalidity of the sentence under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9721(a).

The Superior Court summarily rejected the Appellant's argument that the trial court erred in its charge to the jury

[ 517 Pa. Page 409]

    as it pertained to the degree of culpability which must be established as an element of the offense of homicide by vehicle. The trial court had concluded that the charge was consistent with the Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Field, 490 Pa. 519, 417 A.2d 160 (1980).

The trial court had instructed the jury that,

In considering the offense of homicide by vehicle, under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania homicide by vehicle does not require a showing of recklessness or negligent culpability on the defendant's part in order to sustain a conviction and rather creates a strict liability on the guilt of the defendant without regard to any element of intent. Now, as I ...


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