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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. EDWARD ANDREW PALSA (03/06/89)

decided: March 6, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
EDWARD ANDREW PALSA, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Middle District, dated March 27, 1987 at No. 332 Harrisburg, 1985, affirming the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, dated May 1, 1985 at No. 1983-248. 365 Pa. Super. 645, 526 A.2d 814 (1987).

COUNSEL

Joseph L. Amendola, State College, for appellant.

Ray F. Gricar, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. McDermott, J., files a dissenting opinion which is joined by Larsen and Papadakos, JJ.

Author: Flaherty

[ 521 Pa. Page 114]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On December 15, 1983, in a trial by jury in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, the appellant, Edward Andrew Palsa, was convicted of criminal attempt as a result of his efforts to gain possession of fifteen pounds of marijuana with the intent to deliver the substance to others. A sentence of six to twenty-four months imprisonment was imposed. An appeal was taken to the Superior Court, and, in a memorandum decision, the judgment of sentence was affirmed. 365 Pa. Super. 645, 526 A.2d 814. We granted allowance of appeal.

[ 521 Pa. Page 115]

The factual background of this case is as follows. On March 28, 1983, a trooper of the Pennsylvania State Police was summoned to the scene of a one-car motor vehicle accident. The driver of the wrecked vehicle, Richard Silvoy, exhibited impaired behavior and was immediately arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance. A search of the vehicle was conducted, and fifteen pounds of marijuana were recovered. Silvoy was then arrested for drug offenses and transported to a medical facility where tests revealed that he was under the influence of cocaine. Later, Silvoy was taken to a state police barracks, where, after several hours, he agreed to cooperate with an investigation relating to the marijuana recovered from his vehicle.

Silvoy then spoke with an investigating officer, Trooper Rance Morey, and made statements implicating appellant as a drug offender. The statements recounted certain transactions and conversations between Silvoy and appellant. Silvoy subsequently became a fugitive from justice and was not available to testify at appellant's trial, but, despite objections from defense counsel alleging hearsay, Trooper Morey was permitted to testify to the statements in question.

Morey testified to Silvoy's statement that, at the time of his auto accident, he had been on his way to deliver marijuana to a man known as "Ed" residing at 116 East Irvin Street in State College, Pennsylvania. Morey also recounted Silvoy's statement that, just one day prior to the accident, he had sold the same man a pound of marijuana for a sum of $500.00, and, further, that the man had given him an extra $500.00 as a down payment on an order of fifteen additional pounds.

Appellant was shown at trial to be the individual referred to in Silvoy's statements as "Ed." Appellant contends, therefore, that the foregoing testimony constituted inadmissible and highly prejudicial hearsay, and that a new trial is warranted. The Commonwealth asserts, ...


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