237 S.E.2d 779 (Va. 1977), 761500, Stevenson v. Commonwealth

Docket Nº:761500.
Citation:237 S.E.2d 779, 218 Va. 462
Opinion Judge:[10] I'anson
Party Name:John Paul STEVENSON v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Attorney:[7] C. Willard Norwood (Norwood & Norwood, on brief), for plaintiff in error.
Case Date:October 07, 1977
Court:Supreme Court of Virginia
 
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Page 779

237 S.E.2d 779 (Va. 1977)

218 Va. 462

John Paul STEVENSON

v.

COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.

No. 761500.

Supreme Court of Virginia.

October 7, 1977.

Page 780

[218 Va. 463] C. Willard Norwood, Richmond (Norwood & Norwood, Richmond, on brief), for plaintiff in error.

Alan Katz, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Anthony F. Troy, Atty. Gen., on brief), for defendant in error.

Before I'ANSON, C. J., and CARRICO, HARRISON, COCHRAN, HARMAN, POFF and COMPTON, JJ.

I'ANSON, Chief Justice.

On July 16, 1976, a jury found the defendant, John Paul Stevenson, guilty of murder of the second degree and fixed his punishment at confinement in the state penitentiary for a period of 10 years. He was sentenced accordingly.

We granted defendant a writ of error limited to the question whether the trial court erred in admitting into evidence a bloodstained shirt allegedly worn by the defendant on the day of the homicide and in allowing testimony concerning scientific tests run on the shirt.

The evidence, briefly stated, shows that approximately six o'clock in the afternoon of December 2, 1975, the partially clothed body of Lillian M. Keller was found on the bed in her apartment at the Holly Court Motel in Ashland. Her death resulted from multiple stab wounds. Mrs. Keller was manager of the motel, and she occupied an apartment adjoining the front office. Her apartment also adjoined another unit which was the residence of Howard Franklin Bittorf. There was a connecting door between the Keller apartment and the living quarters of Bittorf.

In the early morning hours of December 2, 1975, the defendant, who is Bittorf's brother-in-law and a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, entered Bittorf's apartment through an unlocked door and spent the rest of the night there. That day Stevenson, Bittorf, and Jeffrey A. Taylor, an occupant of another unit in the motel, spent the morning and early afternoon drinking and "riding around" in defendant's automobile.

Taylor testified that when they returned to Bittorf's apartment in the early afternoon, Mrs. Keller was engaged in cleaning the apartment. He left shortly thereafter and went to his room to rest. He said that he did not see the defendant and Bittorf anymore that day, but when he last saw the defendant he was wearing a long-sleeve buttoned shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

[218 Va. 464] There was evidence that defendant and...

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