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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES R.T. JONES (10/19/89)

decided: October 19, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
CHARLES R.T. JONES, APPELLEE



Appeal from Order of Superior Court entered at No. 1433-Phila. 1986, on March 18, 1987, Vacating the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Lehigh County at No. 185-1985, entered on April 15, 1986. 367 Pa. Super. 648, A.2d (1987).

COUNSEL

William H. Platt, Dist. Atty., Glennis L. Clark, Robert Steinberg, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellant.

George A. Heitczman, Bethlehem, 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. McDermott, J., files a concurring opinion. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 523 Pa. Page 139]

OPINION

Petitioner, appellee, after receiving a sentence imposed by the trial court of 50 to 100 years, was successful in an appeal of that judgment of sentence to the Superior Court. The Superior Court vacated the sentence imposed by the trial court and remanded the cause for resentencing. 367 Pa. Super. 648, 528 A.2d 257 (1987). The Commonwealth sought review of the Superior Court's decision by filing a petition for allowance of appeal to this Court. On February 17, 1988, this Court granted the Commonwealth's request. Thereafter on March 29, 1988, petitioner filed a motion to quash the appeal. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the request to quash the appeal was appropriately lodged. We therefore enter an order quashing this appeal and rendering moot the arguments presented by the parties relating to the issues raised by the decision of the Superior Court.*fn1

[ 523 Pa. Page 140]

Petitioner, Charles R.T. Jones, entered pleas of guilty before the trial court on October 11, 1985. These pleas were entered to 21 counts of sexual abuse of children, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6312(c), 20 counts of obscene and other sexual materials, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5903, and 21 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123. On May 13, 1986, petitioner was sentenced to a term of imprisonment totaling 50 to 100 years.*fn2 The request for reconsideration of the sentences was denied after hearing. The numerous incidents giving rise to these charges occurred over a six-month period in 1984 and involved 14 male children ranging in age from 4 to 14 years. The minors engaged in oral sex with each other as well as with petitioner. Occasionally petitioner photographed some of these encounters. At the time of these incidents petitioner was 38 years of age and had no other criminal record. There is no allegation that any of these encounters were accomplished by force or threats of force.*fn3 In justifying the sentence imposed the trial court indicated, in a memorandum opinion, "[i]n light of the severity of the crimes, their multiplicity, the victims being young boys, and having occurred over a long period of time and the resultant harm, the Court found nothing manifestly excessive in the sentences imposed . . . ." Slip op. at 3, No. 185/1985 (Court of Common Pleas, Lehigh County, Aug. 21, 1986). In vacating the trial court's decision and remanding the cause for resentencing, the Superior Court explained its action as follows:

[ 523 Pa. Page 141]

In determining sentence, the court is to be guided by the following, as provided in 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9721(b):

General standards. -- In selecting from the alternatives set forth in subsection (a) the court shall follow the general principle that the sentence imposed should call for confinement that is consistent with the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense as it relates to the impact on the life of the victim and on the community, and the rehabilitative needs of the defendant.

"A sentence must be imposed based on the minimum amount of confinement that is consistent with the gravity of the offense, the need of the public for protection and the rehabilitative needs of the defendant." Commonwealth v. Simpson, 353 Pa. Super. 474, 478, 510 A.2d 760, 762 (1986) (citations omitted) (emphasis supplied).

This general principle was not followed by the trial court since its focus was nearly exclusively upon the need to punish and the harm caused to the victims. We find the lower court did not take adequate consideration of the appellant's background, his crime-free adult record, the relatively short time span during which the crimes occurred, his undisputed mental illness and expression of remorse, and the prospects of treatment of appellant's illness. The lower court may not totally ignore evidence which suggests that appellant, in a reasonable period of time and under proper treatment, may return to society as a contributing member. Slip op. at 4, No. 1433 (Superior Court, March 18, 1982).

This opinion virtually paraphrases the direction of this Court set forth in Commonwealth v. Martin, 466 Pa. 118, 133, 351 A.2d 650, 657 (1976).

The sentence must be imposed for the minimum amount of confinement that is consistent with the protection of the public, the gravity of the offense, and the rehabilitative needs of the defendant. See 18 Pa.C.S. § 1321(b) (Supp. 1975). At least two factors are ...


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