Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of Death Imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County Criminal Division, June 27, 1985, at C.A. No. B 721 of 1984
Donald D. Doerr, Jr., Butler, court-appointed, for appellant.
David Cook, Dist. Atty., David A. Hepting, Asst. Dist. Atty., and Robert F. Hawk, Asst. Dist. Atty., Office of the Dist. Atty., Butler, for appellee.
Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. Stout, former Justice, did not participate in the decision of this case. Nix, C.j., and Papadakos, J., concur in the result.
Ronald Williams appeals from a sentence of death following conviction of first degree murder. He alleges numerous errors. We will for reasons stated subsequently remand this case for imposition of life sentences.
Those who engage in a criminal purpose, seek by their strategies to isolate a person, thing or event from all possible contingency. When they do they face a formidable obstacle; the common place, the ordinary run of things, which have a way of upsetting the best laid plans. The appellant tried his hand against the scheme of things and was undone by the most causal and natural events of a summer's night in August 1984. On that night at the Nor Sub parking lot on Route 19 in Butler County, Pennsylvania, appellant's brother machine gunned one Archie Bradley to death. Eyes he could not plan against would see and tell. A truck driver was watching television in the cab of his truck and heard the shooting. A passing motorist saw a car cross his path and would identify the appellant as the driver. An alert police officer seeing a car without lights gave chase and recovered the Mac 10 pistol and the crashed escape car owned by the appellant.
Both fled on foot through the woods and the appellant called a girl friend to come drive him home. When she came looking for him she could not find the place they were to meet. She did a quite ordinary thing; she asked a police officer for directions. Then it was morning and the chase was over and the appellant was in the hands of the police. Shortly thereafter so was his co-defendant brother, Raymond Williams.
First, independent of any defense offered by the appellant and the offered alibi evidence that he was in Pittsburgh at the time of the killing, the evidence is clear beyond any doubt that a homicide was committed against Archie Bradley. Mr. Richard Anderson, the truck driver watching television in the cab of his tractor trailer, heard machine gun fire and would identify the co-defendant as the man standing over the victim. Nor is there any doubt that the Mac 10 pistol recovered when thrown from the fleeing car was the murder weapon. Nor is there any doubt that the fleeing Oldsmobile that crashed was the car of the appellant.
The appellant argues that the witness who saw a car leave the parking lot, the car chased by the police and who identified him as the driver of that car, is not to be believed. The reason is that Mr. Stewart allegedly identified the triggerman, Raymond Williams as a white male while in fact he is black. Appellant argues that the identification ought to have been ...