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11/25/97 COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT

November 25, 1997

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT ROVINSKI, APPELLANT



Appeal from the JUDGMENT OF SENTENCE March 25, 1997, in the Court of Common Pleas of BUCKS County, CRIMINAL, No. 2502, 2503 & 2504, 1991. Before CLARK, J.

Before: Cirillo, P.j.e., Saylor and Olszewski, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Olszewski

OPINION BY OLSZEWSKI, J.:

Filed November 25, 1997

Robert Rovinski (appellant) appeals from a judgment of sentence entered in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas on March 25, 1997. Appellant alleges ineffective assistance of counsel, various errors in the conduct of the trial, and errors in the sentence imposed. We affirm.

On December 13, 1991, appellant was convicted by a jury of multiple counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault, simple assault, attempted arson, reckless endangerment of another person, and possession of instruments of a crime. Appellant timely filed post-conviction motions. The trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on November 16, 1992, and then denied appellant's motions on May 27, 1993. On July 28, 1993, the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas sentenced appellant to an aggregate of fifty to a hundred years' incarceration. Upon reconsideration, the trial court reduced this sentence to an aggregate of forty-seven and one-half to ninety-five years. On September 22, appellant appealed the sentence after reconsideration to this Court. On March 23, 1994, having questions concerning the failure of trial counsel to present a diminished capacity defense, we vacated appellant's sentence and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing. See Commonwealth v. Rovinski, 435 Pa. Super. 651, 645 A.2d 893 (1993). The trial court conducted the required evidentiary hearing on February 28th and 29th, 1996. Nine months later, on December 24, 1996, the trial court again denied appellant's post-trial motions, finding appellant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim meritless. Consequently, on March 25, 1997, the court re-sentenced appellant to an aggregate of forty-seven and one-half to ninety-five years of incarceration.

"It is axiomatic that in reviewing findings of fact, an appellate court must give great deference to the fact finder whose province it is to pass upon the credibility of witnesses, whom [she or] he has seen and heard, and determine the weight if any to be given their testimony." Commonwealth v. Iannaccio, 505 Pa. 414, 425, 480 A.2d 966, 971 (1984). Consequently, this Court must accept as true those findings of the trial court supported by the record. See id. ; Commonwealth v. Williams, 539 Pa. 61, 71-72, 650 A.2d 420, 425-26 (1994). Therefore, we adopt the following narrative of the events leading to appellant's arrest which was supplied by the trial court and is supported by the record.

[Appellant] and victim were employed by a local newspaper. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on March 29, 1991, while at work, [appellant] saw Sharon Zorger (one of the aforesaid victims) talking to one Darrel Frost (another victim). [Ms. Zorger and Mr. Frost formerly had a romantic relationship.] More recently, over the last two years, [appellant and Ms. Zorger] had been developing their own romantic relationship. [Appellant] saw [Mr. Frost] touch [Ms. Zorger] on the shoulders. Shortly thereafter, [appellant] confronted [Ms. Zorger], yelled profanities at her and made accusations against her. [Appellant] then confronted Darrel Frost about what he had seen. [Appellant told Mr.] Frost, "I'm going to blow her head off tonight." Next he spoke to his foreman and advised him he was quitting his job.

[Appellant] went to his house, drenched the interior with kerosene and lit several candles with the intention of setting the place on fire. Then, he obtained his shotgun and a box of live shells and left the house. He returned to work and looked for Ms. Zorger's car. Not finding it, he drove toward her home and blocked her car with his as she neared her home. [Appellant] armed with the shotgun, ordered her out of the car. He loaded the gun in her presence and shot her windshield and radiator. He told her, "They are not taking me alive." He then looked at her and said, "Pray or run." He shot her and she fell to the ground, playing dead until he left in his car. She sustained a serious leg wound. [Appellant] was convicted of aggravated assault as to this incident.

[Appellant] went back to work where he confronted a fellow worker. He pointed the gun at him and said, "Just keep moving, Mike, I have no grudge with you, just keep moving." [Appellant] then ran into the pressroom where he shot one Robert Johnson in the right thigh from six feet away. A short time later, [Mr.] Johnson took off his shirt and made a tourniquet. [Appellant] then confronted Francis Mitchell, pointing the gun at him, while motioning another employee out of the way. He pointed the gun at [Mr.] Mitchell's waist. He fired. [Mr.] Mitchell was struck in the left leg.

[Appellant] left that room, went through another room and up a hallway. There he saw Darrel Frost, who was standing near a security guard. [Appellant] fired at [Mr.] Frost, missing him and hitting the security guard in the back of both legs. [Appellant] left the building and fled the scene in his car. It was about 3:30 a.m. At about 9:30 a.m., [appellant] was arrested by an off-duty police officer. At the time [appellant] was having his disabled car towed.

A medical doctor testified that Robert Johnson probably would have bled to death if he had not applied the tourniquet to himself. [Mr.] Johnson had three major surgeries and has sustained permanent injuries. [Mr.] Mitchell spent a month in the hospital and also has permanent injuries.

Slip opinion 5/27/93, at 1-2.

Ineffective Assistance of ...


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