435 A.2d 148 (Pa. 1981), Commonwealth v. Schroth

Citation:435 A.2d 148, 495 Pa. 561
Opinion Judge:Author: O'brien
Party Name:COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Louis Cecil SCHROTH, Appellant.
Case Date:July 10, 1981
Court:Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

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435 A.2d 148 (Pa. 1981)

495 Pa. 561

COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania


Louis Cecil SCHROTH, Appellant.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

July 10, 1981

Submitted March 10, 1981.

Reargument Denied Sept. 28, 1981.

[495 Pa. 562] Spero T. Lappas, Harrisburg, for appellant.

William A. Behe, Deputy Dist. Atty., Harrisburg, for appellee.



O'BRIEN, Chief Justice.

Appellant, Louis Cecil Schroth, was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of

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Dauphin County of murder of the first degree. No post-verdict motions were filed and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. Appellant then filed a direct appeal to this Court, and we remanded for a determination of whether appellant had knowingly and intelligently waived his right to file post-verdict motions. Commonwealth v. Schroth, 458 Pa. 233, 358 A.2d 168 (1974). The trial court on remand allowed the filing of post-verdict motions. The motions were filed and considered and relief was denied. No direct appeal was taken. Appellant thereafter obtained new counsel and filed a petition under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA), 1 alleging, inter alia, that his appeal rights had been denied. The trial court granted leave to appeal nunc pro tunc but denied relief in all other respects. On appeal, we affirmed. Commonwealth v. Schroth, 479 Pa. 485, 388 A.2d 1034 (1978). Appellant again acquired new counsel and filed a new PCHA petition. He alleged that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to raise certain issues and that appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise trial counsel's alleged ineffectiveness. The trial court dismissed the petition without a hearing. Appellant appealed that dismissal and we remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Commonwealth v. Schroth, 490 Pa. 232, 415 A.2d 1219 (1980). Following a hearing, the trial court denied relief. This appeal followed.

Appellant was charged with the death of Linda Lugar. According to the Commonwealth's evidence, appellant was with the decedent at 3:00 a. m. on October 25, 1972. A neighbor testified that she heard screams from the decedent's residence at 3:15 a. m. and saw an unidentified [495 Pa. 564] individual leave at 3:40 a. m. The victim's nude body was found beaten, stabbed and strangled at 9:00 a. m. A thumbprint taken at the scene at 10:00 a. m. was later identified as appellant's print. A police officer testified that appellant made an oral statement to him in which he confessed to having an argument with the victim and strangling and stabbing her.

Appellant presented witnesses to establish that he had been drinking all evening prior to the killing. He testified that he had been at the victim's residence twice on the night of the killing. When he left the apartment for the first time, he realized that he had forgotten his jacket. When he returned to get it, appellant found the victim's body lying on the floor. Appellant further denied making any inculpatory statements.

In considering appellant's claim of ineffective counsel...

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