Com. v. Buzard

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore DREW; ALLEN M. STEARNE
Citation365 Pa. 511,22 A.L.R.2d 846,76 A.2d 394
Parties, 22 A.L.R.2d 846 COMMONWEALTH v. BUZARD.
Decision Date13 November 1950

Page 394

76 A.2d 394
365 Pa. 511, 22 A.L.R.2d 846
COMMONWEALTH

v.
BUZARD.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Nov. 13, 1950.

[365 Pa. 513]

Page 395

Vincent M. Casey, Casey, Power & Savage, Pittsburgh, Lavelle A. Wilson, Brookville, for appellant.

William A. Sykes, District Attorney, Brookville, George H. Kurtz, Punxsutawney, John E. Aikman, Brookville, for appellee.

[365 Pa. 512] Before DREW, C. J., and STERN, STEARNE, JONES, LADNER and CHIDSEY, Jj.

[365 Pa. 513] ALLEN M. STEARNE, Justice.

R. Lawrence Buzard, the defendant, was convicted of murder in the second degree in the Court of Oyer & Terminer of Jefferson County. He has appealed to this Court.

The victim, Waldo Ditty, and defendant were in disagreement concerning the payment of a lumber bill of about $31 which defendant alleged that the victim had not paid. On the evening of September 13, 1949, the victim, 52 years of age, a small man of about 5 feet 4 inches, and weighing between 128 and 134 pounds, was met on the street in the Borough of Corsica by defendant, 59 years old, a large husky man, 6 feet tall and weighting about 175 pounds. Defendant asked the victim about the payment of the alleged indebtedness. The victim denied that he owed defendant any money, stating that lumber had been delivered to defendant by the victim in payment of the bill. The defendant then said that he would sue the victim. Defendant[365 Pa. 514] alleges that the victim laughed aloud, whereupon defendant said 'If I thought that you were laughing at me I would knock your ears off.' Defendant testified that his feelings were hurt by the laughter. He alleged that the victim, having crossed the street, returned and struck at defendant, knocking his glasses partly off his face. Defendant testified that he then replaced the glasses and struck the victim. (No witness observed this alleged occurrence). The victim fled. Defendant pursued him for about 15 feet. What happened thereafter is stated by Commonwealth witnesses and is summarized by the court below as follows:

'William Love: 'It looked to me like he (the defendant) grabbed him (the deceased) by the neck; threw him down, jumped on top of him and started hitting him on both sides of the head. After Buzard hit him once he sort of went limp. You could hear the blows hit,' and that 'the defendant struck the deceased's head five or six times.'

'Thomas Armagost: 'That defendant hit the deceased on the head five or six times; that Buzard was hitting with piston-like blows with one hand and then with the other hand; that the blows sounded like a thud or something; after the kick the deceased scooted out in his face.'

'Dean Henry: 'That he saw the defendant strike the deceased on the head and face six to eight blows; that the defendant was swinging violently at the other fellow's head. That deceased's head went back and forth between blows. That the defendant did not strike the deceased more than two blows and kicked him once after Mr. Riggs had told the defendant to stop.''

The court accurately stated in its opinion refusing a new trial: '* * * disinterested Commonwealth witnesses testified to having seen the defendant pursue the deceased, seize him from the rear, force his knees and [365 Pa. 515] hands to the ground; hold him between his legs and strike him blows, alternating with the right and left hands, on the head and face. Some witnesses saw three blows, other witnesses saw four, five and six blows, respectively. Some witnesses said that the blows were violent and audiable; that the blows continued

Page 396

until the deceased said he had enough and thereafter until William Riggs said, 'He has enough, stop."

Other witnesses testified that the defendant struck but two blows and kicked the victim once after defendant was told to stop. After this the defendant arose from the victim's body and walked away about eight feet. The victim was then unconscious and died immediately thereafter, before he could be removed to a hospital.

We therefore have presented a situation where a large, powerful individual, without justifiable cause, was astride the back of a small, weak man who was prone and defenseless, and administered a beating with his fists with such violence and severity that the victim was killed.

Appellant vigorously contends that there is no evidence to support a verdict of murder in the second degree and that at most the crime amounted to involuntary manslaughter. With this we do not agree.

Murder is defined as an unlawful killing of another with malice afore-thought, express or implied. Commonwealth v. Drum, 58 Pa. 9. The Legislature has divided murder into two classifications, murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree. All murder perpetrated by poison or lying in wait, or any wilful, deliberate or premeditated murder or any murder which shall be committed in the perpetration of certain felonies, is murder in the first degree. Every other kind of murder is murder in the second degree. Act of 1939, June 24, P.L. 872, sec. 701, 18 P.S. § 4701. As the killing was unlawful, we are required to examine the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
28 cases
  • Com. v. Kirkland
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 27, 1963
    ...supra; Commonwealth v. Carroll, 412 Pa. 525, 194 A.2d 911, supra, and numerous cases cited [413 Pa. 64] therein; Commonwealth v. Buzard, 365 Pa. 511, 76 A.2d 394, 22 A.L.R.2d 846. Malice express or implied is the hallmark, the criterion and the absolutely essential ingredient of murder. Mal......
  • Com. v. Commander
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 9, 1970
    ...defined in the famous case of Commonwealth v. Drum, 58 Pa. 9, 15. 'Murder', Mr. Justice STEARNE aptly said, in Commonwealth v. Buzard, 365 Pa. 511, 515, 516, 76 A.2d 394, 396, 22 A.L.R.2d 846, 'is defined as an unlawful killing of another with malice aforethought, express or implied.' The l......
  • Com. v. Ahearn
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 19, 1966
    ...Commonwealth v. Carroll, 412 Pa. 525, 194 A.2d 911, supra; Commonwealth v. Kravitz, 400 Pa. 198, 161 A.2d 861; Commonwealth v. Buzard, 365 Pa. 511, 76 A.2d 394, 22 A.L.R.2d 846; Commonwealth v. Boden, 399 Pa. 298, 159 A.2d 894, 88 A.L.R.2d 223). Legal malice may be inferred and found from t......
  • Com. v. Garcia
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 7, 1977
    ...A.2d 157), supra; Commonwealth v. Carroll, 412 Pa. (525, 194 A.2d 911), supra, and numerous cases cited therein; Commonwealth v. Buzard, 365 Pa. 511, 76 A.2d 394. Malice express or implied is the hallmark, the criterion and the absolutely essential ingredient of murder." (emphasis added). C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT