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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MORRIS WILLIS (01/26/89)

submitted: January 26, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MORRIS WILLIS, APPELLANT



Appeal from Judgment of Sentence December 2, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal, No. 8508-2058, 2060 (2051 3/3).

COUNSEL

Daniel M. Preminger, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Catherine Marshall, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.

Brosky, McEwen and Olszewski, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 12]

This is an appeal from judgment of sentence after appellant was convicted by a jury of first degree murder and

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 13]

    criminal conspiracy. Appellant presents four issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant was either a principal, an accomplice, or a conspirator in Reynolds' murder; (2) whether the trial court committed reversible error when it allowed the Commonwealth to introduce into evidence the unredacted prior recorded testimony of Francine Williams; (3) whether the trial court committed reversible error when it refused to instruct the jury to consider whether Williams was an accomplice in the murder of Reynolds; and (4) whether a new trial is required because of prosecutorial misconduct during final argument to the jury. For the reasons below, we affirm.

On December 28, 1985, appellant was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder and criminal conspiracy. After a penalty hearing held on December 31, 1985, the jury imposed a life sentence for murder. At the formal sentencing on September 3, 1986, the trial court denied post-trial motions and imposed the life sentence for first degree murder and a ten-to-twenty year consecutive term of imprisonment for criminal conspiracy. On September 17, 1986, after reconsideration, the trial court reduced the prison term for conspiracy to five-to-ten years. This appeal is before us.*fn1

Appellant first argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for first degree murder and conspiracy. The standard for reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence claim is well established:

[W]hether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and drawing all reasonable inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, there is sufficient evidence to find every element of the crime beyond

[ 383 Pa. Super. Page 14]

    a reasonable doubt . . . . The Commonwealth may sustain its burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt by means of wholly circumstantial evidence . . . Moreover, in applying the above test, the entire trial record must be evaluated and all evidence actually received must be considered . . . Finally, the trier of fact, while passing upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be afforded the evidence produced, is free to belive all, part or none of the evidence. (Citations omitted.)

Commonwealth v. Griscavage, 512 Pa. 540, 543, 517 A.2d 1256, 1257 (1986), quoting Commonwealth v. Harper, 485 Pa. 572, 576-577, 403 A.2d 536, 538-539 (1979).

The Commonwealth aptly summarizes the evidence presented at trial as follows:

[O]n the evening of August 31, 1983, Craig Murphy, sitting in his black and silver Lincoln Continental at 15th and Clearfield Streets in Philadelphia, told Bernard Williams to take a ride with him. After Murphy made a telephone call in a nearby phone booth, he drove Williams to the Motorcycle Club, a gambling house at Germantown and Hilton Avenues, which both men entered. Williams left the club about thirty minutes later and went to the Mark V lounge across the street . . . . At approximately 10:30 p.m. that evening, Keith Johnson saw Murphy and co-defendants Rodney Wells, Ford Howard, and Esau Burroughs plotting in the front room of the Motorcycle Club "how they were going up Nicetown to kill this guy Muscles . . . ." Murphy and co-defendant Howard were showing co-defendants Wells and Burroughs their guns. Johnson heard [Howard] state that he was "going up there to kill the [m___f____" and that "he wasn't going to be playing" . . . . After witnessing this exchange, Johnson entered another ...


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