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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SCOTT WAYNE BLYSTONE (10/17/88)

decided: October 17, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
SCOTT WAYNE BLYSTONE, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County, Criminal Division, at Nos. 2, 2 1/4, 2 2/4 & 2 3/4 of 1984, entered on April 17, 1986

COUNSEL

Samuel J. Davis, John M. Purcell, Davis & Davis, Uniontown (court-appointed), for appellant.

Alphonse LePore, Jr., Dist. Atty., James J. Nesser, Ewing D. Newcomer, Uniontown, for appellee.

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

Author: Mcdermott

[ 519 Pa. Page 455]

OPINION

A jury found the appellant, Scott Wayne Blystone, guilty of murder of the first degree,*fn1 robbery,*fn2 criminal conspiracy to commit homicide,*fn3 and criminal conspiracy to commit

[ 519 Pa. Page 456]

    robbery.*fn4 After further deliberation that same jury set the penalty for the murder conviction at death.*fn5 The appellant was also sentenced to ten to twenty years imprisonment for the robbery conviction.*fn6 He directly appeals these judgments of sentence.*fn7

It is the practice of this Court in cases in which the death penalty has been imposed to review the sufficiency of the evidence supporting an appellant's conviction. Commonwealth v. Zettlemoyer, 500 Pa. 16, 26-27 n. 3, 454 A.2d 937, 942 n. 3 (1982), cert. denied, 461 U.S. 970, 103 S.Ct. 2444, 77 L.Ed.2d 1327 (1983). We do so with an eye to see whether, viewing all the evidence admitted at trial in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, there is sufficient evidence to enable the jury to find every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Kichline, 468 Pa. 265, 361 A.2d 282 (1976). In the instant case the evidence presented to the jury, together with all reasonable inferences in favor of the Commonwealth, discloses the following.

On the night of Friday, September 9, 1983, Scott Blystone, his girlfriend and another couple were riding around Fayette County in Blystone's automobile. Blystone, who was driving, worried about the fact that his automobile was low on gasoline and he had no money with which to purchase more. At approximately midnight, Blystone observed Dalton Charles Smithburger, Jr., hitchhiking. Blystone announced to his companions: "I am going to pick this guy up and rob him, okay, . . .?" His friends endorsed the idea, or at best did nothing to oppose it, so Blystone pulled over to pick up his victim. Unfortunately, Smithburger, who was not acquainted with anyone in the car, accepted the ride.

Once underway Blystone asked Smithburger if he had any money to contribute for the purpose of purchasing gasoline. Smithburger replied that he had only a few

[ 519 Pa. Page 457]

    dollars and reached into his pocket. Dissatisfied with that response, Blystone drew a revolver which he held to Smithburger's head. In no uncertain terms Blystone ordered Smithburger to shut his eyes and place his hands on the dashboard. Smithburger understandably offered no resistance. Though in the course of a taped interview he would later admit that "I almost splattered him right there in the car," Blystone assured Smithburger that he would lose only his money, not his life.

Blystone pulled the car off the road at a lonely spot and walked Smithburger at gunpoint a short distance into an adjacent field. Blystone searched Smithburger, finding thirteen dollars. He ordered Smithburger to lie face down on the ground and wait. Smithburger complied. Blystone briefly returned to his companions in the car to inform them that he was going to kill Smithburger. The best that can be said for Blystone's friends is that perhaps they were startled into ambivalence by the enormity of the statement.

In any event Blystone decided to kill Smithburger. He returned to the field where he found his victim as he had left him. Blystone knelt on Smithburger's back and asked him whether he could identify the vehicle which had picked him up. Smithburger correctly replied, "all I know is it was green and the back end was wrecked." Blystone then said, "goodbye" and emptied his revolver into the back of Smithburger's head.

Such "goodbyes" are rarely the end. Such deaths take on a life of their own and rattle through the lives of the those who know, until chance or nature loosens tongues. Appellant Blystone heard more than the voice of his passengers; he heard his own voice bragging in vivid and grisly detail of the killing of that unlucky lad. (See the Appendix attached to this opinion.)

Blystone eluded detection as Smithburger's murderer for over three months. However, his associates eventually exposed him. The testimonial evidence they contributed to the Commonwealth's case, along with physical evidence, would have been sufficient to support Blystone's convictions.

[ 519 Pa. Page 458]

Additionally, an audio tape of Blystone describing the murder to an informant was presented to the jury (See Appendix). The combined effect of all this material was to present the jury with evidence of the appellant's guilt which was more than sufficient; it was overwhelming.

Nevertheless, the appellant attacks the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his robbery conviction and, consequently, the imposition of the death penalty.*fn8 Specifically, the appellant argues, the Commonwealth did not present sufficient evidence to satisfy the corpus delicti requirement for the crime of robbery. To establish the corpus delicti of robbery, the Commonwealth must prove a theft by criminal means. Commonwealth v. Tallon, 478 Pa. 468, 475, 387 A.2d 77, 81 (1978). In other words, the Commonwealth bears a burden to show that the crime actually occurred.

The Commonwealth presented ample evidence, apart from the appellant's own admissions, that Scott Blystone did in fact rob Dalton Smithburger. Both of the young women in the car that night testified that the armed appellant took thirteen dollars from Smithburger. One of the women testified on this point as follows:

Q. [Prosecutor]: Did Scott say whether or not he took the money?

A. He didn't have no money on him before and that is how he got the gas is with that money.

Q. With that thirteen dollars?

A. With that thirteen dollars . . .

Thus the appellant's argument on this point is meritless.*fn9

Apart from the sufficiency of the evidence supporting this robbery conviction, the appellant asserts a second theory

[ 519 Pa. Page 459]

    which would render this felony harmless for the purpose of setting the penalty for his murder conviction. Blystone argues that the robbery of Smithburger was completed prior to the murder and since the killing was not committed "while in the perpetration of a felony," 42 Pa.C.S. § 9711(d)(6), he cannot be sentenced to death.*fn10 This proposition is absurd.

The crime of robbery is clearly defined:

(1) A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:

(i) inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;

(ii) threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate serious bodily injury;

(iii) commits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree;

(iv) inflicts bodily injury upon another or threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury; or

(v) physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight.

(2) An act shall be deemed "in the course of committing a theft" if it occurs in an attempt to commit theft or in flight after the attempt or commission.

18 Pa.C.S. § 3701(a).

The evidence concerning the robbery and killing was uncontroverted. The appellant searched his victim at gunpoint, taking thirteen dollars; forced him to lie down; and instructed him not to move unless he wished to die. Blystone then traversed the short distance to his automobile, remaining there only long enough to announce his murderous intent and gain the endorsement of his companions. Meanwhile, Smithburger remained motionless on the ground out of fear that Blystone would fulfill his deadly promise should he resist or attempt to flee. Indeed, Blystone described in detail how he instilled doubt in Smithburger's

[ 519 Pa. Page 460]

    mind as to whether his robber was merely a few feet away or fled the scene: "He never moved. He thought I was there. I stepped around him, right, and I walked a little bit in a circle and I stopped. I didn't make no noise, and I said 'don't think I am gone, mother-f___r,' and then I f___g tiptoed off, you know." Upon his return from the automobile Blystone killed Smithburger; only then did he flee the scene. Thus, this robbery was not complete when Blystone took Smithburger's money, nor when Blystone went to his car, but when he successfully fled the scene after murdering his victim.

Finding the evidence sufficient to support the convictions, we turn our attention to what the appellant characterizes as errors of the trial court. The appellant contends that these rulings by the court tainted his trial in such a way that he must be granted another. We address these rulings of the trial judge in chronological order.

A particularly incriminating piece of evidence in the Commonwealth's arsenal consisted of a tape recording of a conversation between the appellant and a police informant (See Appendix). On the tape Blystone is heard to recall the Smithburger robbery and homicide in lurid detail. Of course, the appellant attempted to keep this evidence from the jury by means of a pre-trial suppression motion.

After a suppression hearing the trial judge denied the appellant's motion and portions of the tape were played before the jury during trial. The court found the tape admissible because the surveillance was conducted in compliance with procedures permitted under the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act*fn11 in that the informant consented to wear a "wire".*fn12 The Act provides in pertinent part:

§ 5704. Exceptions to prohibition on interception and disclosure of communications.

[ 519 Pa. Page 461]

It shall not be unlawful under this chapter for:

(2) Any investigative or law enforcement officer or any person acting at the direction or request of an investigative or law enforcement officer to intercept a wire or oral communication involving suspected criminal activities where:

(ii) one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception. However, no interception under this paragraph shall be made unless the Attorney General or a deputy attorney general designated in writing by the Attorney General, or the district attorney, or an assistant district attorney designated in writing by the district attorney of the county wherein the interception is to be made, has reviewed the facts and is satisfied that the consent is voluntary and has given prior approval for the interception; however such interception shall be subject to the recording and record keeping requirements of section 5714(a) (relating to recording of intercepted communications) and that the Attorney General, deputy attorney general, district attorney or assistant district attorney authorizing the interception shall be the custodian of recorded evidence obtained therefrom.

18 Pa.C.S. § 5704(2)(ii).

The appellant argues that warrantless consensual monitoring, as authorized by the Act, violated his rights as guaranteed by Article I, § 8 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, which provides:

The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures, and no warrant to search any place or to seize any person or things shall issue without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation subscribed to by the affiant.

[ 519 Pa. Page 462]

This argument has been recently accepted by the Superior Court. Commonwealth v. Schaeffer, 370 Pa. Super. 179, 536 A.2d 354 (1987).*fn13 We, however, have not heretofore considered the matter.

A look at the history of wiretapping in this Commonwealth reveals that the General Assembly has been cognizant of intrusions into the personal liberties of our citizens. For instance, our original statute dealing with the issue of wiretaps forbade any wiretapping unless all parties consented.*fn14 However, the current electronic surveillance statute strikes a balance between citizens' legitimate expectation of privacy and the needs of law enforcement officials to combat crime. In this regard the General Assembly has provided safeguards to protect the liberties of the citizens of the Commonwealth. For instance, the statute requires the Attorney General, deputy attorney general designated in writing by the Attorney General, district attorney, or an assistant district attorney designated in writing by the district attorney, to make a review of the facts of each case. Consent for the interception must be given by one of the parties. The Attorney General, deputy attorney general, district attorney, or assistant district attorney must be satisfied that the consent is voluntary. Only then will approval for the interception be given. In addition, the intercepted communications are subject to strict record keeping requirements.*fn15

[ 519 Pa. Page 463]

Appellant contends, however, that despite these safeguards the statute fails to pass constitutional muster. We disagree.

A statute commands the presumption of constitutionality when it is lawfully enacted, unless it clearly, palpably, and plainly violates the constitution. Hayes v. Erie Ins. Exchange, 493 Pa. 150, 425 A.2d 419 (1981); Tosto v. Pennsylvania Nursing Home Loan Agency, 460 Pa. 1, 331 A.2d 198 (1975). Any doubts are to be resolved in favor of sustaining the legislation. Hayes, supra, 493 Pa. at 155, 425 A.2d at 421.

In the area of electronic surveillance it has already been established that one-party consensual interceptions do not violate the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Caceres, 440 U.S. 741, 99 S.Ct. 1465, 59 L.Ed.2d 733 (1979); United States v. White, 401 U.S. 745, 91 S.Ct. 1122, 28 L.Ed.2d 453 (1971) reh. denied, 402 U.S. 990, 91 S.Ct. 1643, 29 L.Ed.2d 156 (1971) (plurality opinion). However, since state courts are free to provide broader protections based on state constitutional grounds than those provided by the federal constitution, Cooper v. California, 386 U.S. 58, 87 S.Ct. 788, 17 L.Ed.2d 730 (1967) reh. denied, 386 U.S. 988, 87 S.Ct. 1283, 18 L.Ed.2d 243 (1967); Commonwealth v. Sell, 504 Pa. 46, 470 A.2d 457 (1983), the federal precedents are not controlling, and consideration of our state constitution is required.

It has been held that the protection provided by Article I, § 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution extend[s] to those zones where one has a reasonable expection of privacy, Commonwealth v. DeJohn, 486 Pa. 32, 403 A.2d 1283 (1979) cert. denied, 444 U.S. 1032, 100 S.Ct. 704, 62 L.Ed.2d 668 (1980); and that Article I, § 8 creates an implicit right to privacy in this Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. Platou, 455 Pa. 258, 312 A.2d 29 (1973) cert. denied, 417 U.S. 976, 94 S.Ct. 3183, 41 L.Ed.2d 1146 (1974). To determine whether one's activities fall within the right of privacy, we must examine: first, whether appellant has exhibited an

[ 519 Pa. Page 464]

    expectation of privacy; and second, whether that expectation is one that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Commonwealth v. Sell, supra; Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 360, 88 S.Ct. 507, 516, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967) (Concurring Opinion, Harlan, J.); Commonwealth v. Tann, 500 Pa. 593, 459 A.2d 322 (1983).

The United States Supreme Court has held that a person cannot have a justifiable and constitutionally protected expectation that a person with whom he is conversing will not then or later reveal that conversation to the police. Lopez v. United States, 373 U.S. 427, 83 S.Ct. 1381, 10 L.Ed.2d 462 (1963) reh. denied, 375 U.S. 870, 84 S.Ct. 26, 11 L.Ed.2d 99 (1963); United States v. White, supra; Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 87 S.Ct. 408, 17 L.Ed.2d 374 (1966) reh. denied, 386 U.S. 940, 87 S.Ct. 970, 17 L.Ed.2d 880 (1967). Furthermore, as noted above, the Court has held that one party interceptions do not violate the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Caceres, supra.

Basically, the Supreme Court has recognized the simple fact that a thing remains secret until it is told to other ears, after which one cannot command its keeping. What was private is now on other lips and can no longer belong to the teller. What one choses to do with another's secrets may differ from the expectation of the teller, but it is no longer his secret. How, when, and to whom the confidant discloses the confidence is his choosing. He may whisper it, write it, or in modern times immediately broadcast it as he hears it.

As applied to this case the above cited cases are particularly significant for two reasons: one, the Pennsylvania wiretapping statute is based on its federal counterpart, Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510-20,*fn16 the latter of which was cited with approval by the United States Supreme Court in Caceres, id. 440 U.S. at 742, 99 S.Ct. at

[ 519 Pa. Page 4651466]

;*fn17 and two, it is the federal body of law from which we derive our test for determining what actions fall under the rubric of a privacy right, Katz, supra, (Concurring Opinion, Harlan, J.).

Although, unless dictated by Supremacy Clause considerations, we are not bound to follow the federal interpretation of the federal act or the federal constitution in the interpretation of our state statute and/or constitution, we are in this case, persuaded by the rationale behind those decisions. As Mr. Justice White stated in the lead opinion in United States v. White,

Concededly a police agent who conceals his police connections may write down for official use his conversations with a defendant and testify concerning them, without a warrant authorizing his encounters with the defendant and without otherwise violating the latter's Fourth Amendment rights. Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. at 300-303 [87 S.Ct. at 412-14]. For constitutional purposes, no different result is required if the agent instead of immediately reporting and transcribing his conversations with defendant, either (1) simultaneously records them with electronic equipment which he is carrying on his person, Lopez v. United States, supra; (2) or carries radio equipment which simultaneously transmits the conversations either to recording equipment located elsewhere or to other agents monitoring the transmitting frequency. On Lee v. United States, supra [343 U.S. 747, 72 S.Ct. 967, 96 L.Ed. 1270 (1952)]. If the conduct and revelations made of an agent operating without electronic equipment do not invade the defendant's constitutionally justifiable expectations of privacy, neither does a simultaneous recording of the same of the same conversations made by the agent or by others from transmissions received from the agent to whom the defendant is talking and whose trustworthiness the defendant necessarily risks.

[ 519 Pa. Page 466401]

U.S. at 751, 91 S.Ct. at 1126.*fn18 (These statements were cited with approval in Caceres, supra, 440 U.S. at 742-43, 99 S.Ct. at 1466-67).

Therefore, since we find no constitutional defect in the statute, and since the Commonwealth in this case operated in compliance with the statute, the appellant's vivid recounting of the brutal murder of Dalton Smithburger was properly admitted.

Appellant next argues that the trial court improperly sustained a Commonwealth challenge for cause of a prospective juror because that juror's opposition to the death penalty did not illustrate an inability to perform as a juror. The relevant voir dire testimony follows.

Q. [Prosecutor]: If, after hearing all of the evidence in this case and the law as his Honor, Judge Adams, will give you, and as a member of this jury you believed that the death penalty is warranted, would you impose such a penalty?

A. Does that mean "capital punishment"? I don't believe in that.

Q. That is the death penalty. Do you have a moral or religious belief against capital punishment?

A. I am a Baptist and I don't believe in capital punishment.

Q. It is against your religious beliefs to support capital punishment?

[ 519 Pa. Page 467]

A. Yes, it is.

[Prosecutor]: Challenge for cause.

[Defense Counsel]: I would object to the challenge based on her answer.

Judge Adams: The Supreme Court has recently ruled that this is a legitimate reason to challenge for cause. We would overrule the objection. Mrs. [prospective juror], we would advise you that you are not going to be asked to serve on this jury because of your feeling. I would ask you please not to discuss with any other juror the questions that were asked you or your reasons for being excused. Thank you. You may step down.

(Emphasis added).

A determination of whether to disqualify a prospective juror is made by the trial judge based on both that juror's answers as well as demeanor, and will not be reversed absent a palpable abuse of discretion. Commonwealth v. DeHart, 512 Pa. 235, 248, 516 A.2d 656, 663 (1986), cert. denied, U.S. , 107 S.Ct. 3241, 97 L.Ed.2d 746 (1987).

The trial court clearly considered these criteria in granting the Commonwealth's challenge.

This court, as to Juror Number 102, had no difficulty in reaching the decision that her attitude and manner, as well as her words, indicated she had personal and religious beliefs which would prevent and substantially impair her performance and duty as a juror in accordance with the court's instructions and her oath. It is conceded that the court's dismissal for cause was abrupt, and that more extensive questioning would have placed an Appellate Court in a better position to resolve the issue so far as the printed record is concerned, but this court is clearly of the opinion, based on the printed record as shown, and the attitude and manner of the juror as this court found it to be, that she did not meet the standards set forth and was properly excluded from the jury for cause.

[ 519 Pa. Page 468]

Slip op. at 60-61. Though the trial court is apologetic for the state of the printed record, that concern is unnecessary. For the purpose of ruling on the Commonwealth's motion, the dispositive questions were posed and answered as indicated by our emphasis. This exchange shows this prospective juror could not carry out her duty to follow the law as the trial judge would instruct and, therefore, was properly excluded. Commonwealth v. Sneed, 514 Pa. 597, 526 A.2d 749 (1987); Commonwealth v. Peterkin, 511 Pa. 299, 513 A.2d 373 (1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 1070, 107 S.Ct. 962, 93 L.Ed.2d 1010 (1987). See Lockhart v. McCree, 476 U.S. 162, 106 S.Ct. 1758, 90 L.Ed.2d 137 (1986).

The appellant's final assertion of error on the part of the trial court concerns the testimony of the victim's father, Dalton Charles Smithburger, Sr. Appellant argues that the trial court erroneously permitted the Commonwealth to introduce testimony of the victim's character, intelligence and propensity to follow orders. The appellant contends that the impact of this testimony was to create sympathy for the victim which was irrelevant for purposes of determining the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

Initially, we note that the appellant has waived this issue by failing to object to this specific testimony. The sidebar conference during which the appellant's trial counsel voiced his objection follows.

[Defense Counsel]: We would stipulate to the testimony of Mr. Smithburger if it is merely to the fact that he identified the body as his son.

[Prosecutor]: I intend to offer him to testify as to (1) when he last saw his son and (2) what he was wearing and (3) where he made identification of the body and also (4) what type of student his son was. [parentheticals added]

[Defense Counsel]: I would stipulate to the testimony as to (3) his identifying his son, but I don't see any relevancy to (1) the last time he saw his son and (2) what he was wearing, and I would object. [parentheticals added]

[ 519 Pa. Page 469]

Judge Adams: Does the Commonwealth wish to call him in light of the stipulation?

[Prosecutor]: Yes.

Judge Adams: We will permit you to call him. We would overrule the objection.

It is apparent from this record that the prosecutor offered this witness to address four factual matters. The appellant's trial counsel was willing to stipulate to one of these points and objected to two others. The fourth matter, which is the issue here, was not opposed then or later and, therefore, has been waived.

However, it is of little import that the appellant did not technically preserve his objection because the substantive argument supporting it is meritless. That argument points to the following testimony as prejudicial to the appellant.

Q. [Prosecutor]: Mr. Smithburger, what kind of student was your son?

A. Well, he went to Tech School and he passed his welding class.

Q. How would you describe your son -- was he a troublemaker?

A. No, never a troublemaker.

Q. How was he as far as listening?

A. He listened pretty good.

Q. If someone were to tell him something, would he do it?

A. Yes, he would.

Q. I believe you told the police that he was in special education?

A. Yes.

[Prosecutor]: I have no further questions.

Evidence which has the effect of arousing sympathy for a crime victim is prejudicial and inadmissible when otherwise irrelevant. Commonwealth v. Story, 476 Pa. 391, 402, 383 A.2d 155, 160 (1978). In this case it is not apparent that the above testimony had the threshold impact of evoking sympathy for the victim in the minds or hearts

[ 519 Pa. Page 470]

    of the jurors. The assessment of the trial court was that the "testimony was delivered in a matter-of-fact tone and was not done in a manner which would inflame the jury." Slip op. at 36. The mere characterization of the victim as an individual having a learning disability does not make his homicide more, or less, heinous.

Furthermore, this evidence was probative of the victim's passive nature and thereby lent credence to the Commonwealth's account of events prior to his death. Specifically, evidence of the victim's passiveness served to explain, at least in part, why Smithburger remained prone in the field while Blystone was at his automobile discussing with his companions the necessity of killing him. The appellant himself in his taped statement admitted that he was surprised by Smithburger's obedience.

I thought I was going to have to chase him through the field when I went back. I thought for sure this mother-f___r ain't going to lay there, but I wanted to warn them -- you know, Jackie and George -- I wanted to warn them that I was going to waste him -- I went back. I went back just expecting this mother-f___r to be through the fields. I had to laugh.

The testimony of Mr. Smithburger, being more probative than prejudicial, was properly allowed by the trial court. See Commonwealth v. Ulatoski, 472 Pa. 53, 63 n. 11, 371 A.2d 186, 191 n. 11 (1977). See also Commonwealth v. Story, supra, 476 Pa. at 402, 383 A.2d at 160.

In addition to allegations of error on the part of the trial court, the appellant asserts that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to investigate and present an alibi defense. Blystone, represented by a different attorney, presented this complaint to the trial court long after the jury rendered its verdicts and set the appropriate penalty for the homicide conviction. After a post-trial hearing conducted to air this grievance the trial court determined that appellant's argument was meritless. We concur.

[ 519 Pa. Page 471]

Initially, we note the appellant did not comply with the mandatory notice provision of the rule governing the presentation of an alibi defense, which provides:

C. Disclosure by the Defendant

(1) Mandatory.

(a) Notice of Alibi Defense. A defendant who intends to offer the defense of alibi at trial shall, at the time required for filing the omnibus pretrial motion under Rule 306, file of record notice signed by the defendant or the attorney for the defendant, with proof of service upon the attorney for the Commonwealth, specifying intention to claim such defense. Such notice shall contain specific information as to the place or places where the defendant claims to have been at the time of the alleged offense and the names and addresses of witnesses whom the defendant intends to call in support of such claim.

Pa.R.Crim.P. 305.C.(1)(a). The consequences to a defendant who ignores the notice provision are also made clear in the rule:

(d) Failure to File Notice. If the defendant fails to file and serve notice of alibi defense or insanity or mental infirmity defense as required by this rule, or omits any witness from such notice, the court at trial may exclude the testimony of any omitted witness, or may exclude entirely any evidence offered by the defendant for the purpose of proving the defense, except testimony by the defendant, or may grant a continuance to enable the Commonwealth to investigate such evidence, or may make such other order as the interests of justice require.

Pa.R.Crim.P. 305.C.(1)(d).

This was not, however, an instance in which the alibi defense was barred simply because of a failure to comply with the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Blystone chose to present no defense whatsoever after the conclusion of the Commonwealth's evidence. At that point in the proceedings the trial judge conducted a colloquy out of the jury's presence to ensure that the appellant understood his right to advance evidence on his behalf. The appellant gave no

[ 519 Pa. Page 472]

    indication to the trial court that an alibi defense was feasible. Consequently, there was not even an opportunity for the court to abuse its discretion in the application of the alibi defense rule, Pa.R.Crim.P. 305.C.(1).

Additionally, it is apparent from the record of the post-trial hearing that Blystone's alibi was a fabrication. At that proceeding the appellant waived the attorney-client privilege of confidentiality existing between him and his trial counsel. Trial counsel then testified that the testimony of the alibi witnesses would be contrary to the facts as recited to him by Blystone. In other words, the alibi witnesses would be perjuring themselves. It was also apparent that Blystone did not tell his trial counsel of the possibility of establishing his presence elsewhere at the time of the crime until after the Commonwealth rested its case.

During the post-trial hearing the trial court, through its own diligence, went so far as to locate one of the appellant's alibi witnesses and import her from West Virginia for the purpose of testifying at the proceeding. After hearing the witness' testimony, and juxtaposing it with that which she had rendered in a separate prosecution arising from the same incident, the trial court found the witness was not credible. Slip op. at 56.

This Court will not label counsel ineffective for failing to suborn perjury. Therefore, the appellant's argument is meritless.

[ 519 Pa. Page 473]

In addition to the claims already aired, the appellant raises three arguments challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty. One of these arguments is couched in terms of error by the trial court. The appellant asks: "Whether the trial court erred in denying the defendant's motion for an evidentiary hearing to present testimony concerning the prosecution-proneness of the jury that convicted him?" To accept the appellant's contention of error, would be to accept the worth of his substantive argument to the effect that death qualified juries are prosecution-prone. We will not do this. Commonwealth v. DeHart, Page 473} supra, 512 Pa. at 250-53, 516 A.2d at 664-665. See Lockhart v. McCree, supra.

The appellant next asserts that the death penalty statute is unconstitutional under both the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions because of its mandatory language. The part of the statute operative in this instance states: "the verdict must be a sentence of death if the jury unanimously finds at least one aggravating circumstance . . . and no mitigating circumstance," 42 Pa.C.S. § 9711(c)(1)(iv). We will not dwell on this issue beyond noting that the ...


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