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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ALEXANDER SMITH (07/28/88)

decided: July 28, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
ALEXANDER SMITH, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court entered on September 20, 1985, at No. 1387 Pittsburgh, 1983, reversing and remanding the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, entered on November 18, 1983, at Nos. CC 8206775 and CC 8207360. 350 Pa. Super. 635, 503 A.2d 458 (1985)

COUNSEL

Paul R. Gettleman, Zelienople, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Dara DeCourcy, Asst. Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Zappala, JJ. Papadakos, J., concurred in the result. Larsen and McDermott, JJ., filed dissenting opinions.

Author: Zappala

[ 518 Pa. Page 525]

OPINION

On the evening of August 19, 1982, while a guest and in attendance at a party, at a residence located on the South Side of the City of Pittsburgh, the Appellant was arrested

[ 518 Pa. Page 526]

    and charged with criminal homicide and aggravated assault. Donald Kennelly, David Martelli and their friends appeared to have been uninvited guests at the party. A fight ensued during which the Appellant was struck in the face. He responded by securing a kitchen knife. What happened after the acquisition of the knife is in dispute. The Appellant claims that he was confronted by Martelli holding a crowbar and, in self-defense, fatally stabbed him. He then saw a friend being beaten by Kennelly, resulting in the Appellant stabbing Kennelly once and then throwing the knife over a fence. The Commonwealth argues that the Appellant first stabbed Kennelly and then Martelli. The order of the stabbings is critical in refuting the perceived justification defense.

The evening after the party, the Appellant turned himself in to the police and gave a statement admitting to stabbing Martelli in self-defense and then stabbing Kennelly. The knife was later recovered and found to have blood type "B" on it. Martelli had type "B" blood, while Kennelly has blood type "O".

As indicated, the Commonwealth filed two criminal informations charging the Appellant with aggravated assault upon Kennelly and homicide in the death of Martelli. On November 10, 1982, the Commonwealth filed a motion to consolidate the two informations. For some unexplained reason, the motion was never considered until October 19, 1983, the same time the trial court was conducting a hearing on the Appellant's motions to sever and to suppress certain statements of the Appellant. After taking testimony, the trial court granted the motion to sever, denied the motions to suppress and consolidate, and, after extensive oral argument, restricted the Commonwealth's use of to the facts of the aggravated assault charge in the voir dire process. The Commonwealth then appealed the trial court ruling to the Superior Court, believing that the trial court ordered the Commonwealth not to offer any evidence regarding the aggravated assault charge in the homicide trial. The Superior Court reversed the trial court, 350 Pa. Super. 635,

[ 518 Pa. Page 527503]

A.2d 458, concluding that it had erred in reversing the charges and in disallowing the introduction of the aggravated assault evidence during the homicide trial. We granted allocatur to review the appealability of the ...


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