Com. v. Dawson

Decision Date30 October 1975
Citation346 A.2d 545,464 Pa. 254
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee, v. Paul C. DAWSON, Appellant.
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Morrison B. Williams, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Donald L. Reihart, Dist. Atty., York, for appellee.

Before JONES, C.J., and EAGEN, O'BRIEN, ROBERTS, POMEROY, NIX and MANDERINO, JJ.

OPINION OF THE COURT

EAGEN, J.

This is a direct appeal from the judgment of sentence imposed upon the appellant Paul C. Dawson, following his conviction by a jury in York County of murder in the second degree.

Initially, Dawson complains the trial evidence was insufficient to warrant his conviction. We are not so persuaded. While the finding of Dawson's guilt of the crime depended solely on circumstantial evidence, it has long been established in this jurisdiction that such evidence may be of sufficient quantity and quality to establish guilt of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. See Commonwealth v. Cimaszewski, 447 Pa. 141, 288 A.2d 805 (1972); Commonwealth v. Wentzel, 360 Pa. 137, 61 A.2d 309 (1948). The evidence in this case meets this standard. The Commonwealth's evidence established the following facts.

The victim of the killing on which the prosecution was based was one Michael Joseph Pillo. For some months prior to Pillo's death, the appellant Dawson carried on an illicit relationship with Pillo's wife, unbeknown to Pillo, and expressed his love for Mrs. Pillo and a desire to marry her. On March 13, 1971, when Pillo arrived home from work, he was greeted by Dawson and Mrs. Pillo and presented with a letter that had arrived by mail that day, purporting to offer him employment as a night watchman at a sewage plant construction site in Springettbury Township, York County. The letter was typed by someone other than a trained technician and suggested that Pillo report to the construction site that evening between 7 and 7:30 p.m. Pillo told Dawson and Mrs. Pillo of the contents of the letter and of his intention to go to the construction site that evening as suggested.

Dawson left the Pillo home about 6:15 p.m. in his automobile. Pillo left in his automobile about fifteen minutes later. Shortly thereafter, Pillo stopped at a political club, discussed the new job opportunity with some friends for a few minutes and told them he was then on his way to the construction site.

Pillo did not return home that night. He was reported missing and efforts to discover his whereabouts proved unsuccessful immediately. Two days later his dead body was found in a newly covered shallow grave in a woodland in Conewago Township, located several miles away from the sewage disposal construction site. A post mortem examination disclosed the existence of two bullet wounds in the body, and a 'stellate laceration' on the top of the skull apparently caused by a blunt instrument. One of the bullet wounds extended from the back of the body into the aorta causing death. That same afternoon, Pillo's automobile was discovered and retrieved from an open quarry hole which was filled with water and located about one-eighth of a mile from the sewage disposal construction site.

During their investigation the police discovered dark colored spots in the soil in the area of the sewage disposal construction site, and also the cartridge case of a spent .22 calibre bullet. Subsequent laboratory tests demonstrated the dark colored spots in the soil were caused by human blood, Type A, the same blood type as Pillo.

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28 cases
  • Com. v. Hubbard
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • May 16, 1977
    ...Commonwealth v. Cox, 466 Pa. 582, 353 A.2d 844 (1975); Commonwealth v. Massart, 469 Pa. 572, 366 A.2d 1229 (1975); Commonwealth v. Dawson, 464 Pa. 254, 346 A.2d 545 (1975); Commonwealth v. Petrisko, 442 Pa. 575, 275 A.2d 46 (1971); Commonwealth v. Kravitz, 400 Pa. 198, 161 A.2d 861 (1960). ......
  • Commonwealth v. Hubbard
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • January 28, 1977
    ... ... Cox, 466 Pa. 582, 353 A.2d 844 (1975); ... Commonwealth v. Massart, 469 Pa. 572, 366 A.2d 1229 ... (1975); Commonwealth v. Dawson, 464 Pa. 254, 346 ... A.2d 545 (1975); Commonwealth v. Petrisko, 442 Pa ... 575, 275 A.2d 46 (1971); Commonwealth v. Kravitz, ... 400 Pa ... ...
  • Commonwealth v. Sullivan
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • February 28, 1977
    ...murder Gorey and Janda, a guilty verdict could only be returned if the jury found Sullivan actually took part in the murder. [3] In Commonwealth v. Dawson, the had been bludgeoned and shot to death. The police found in appellant's car a blanket, hatchet handle and other items, all of which ......
  • Commonwealth v. Mitchell
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • December 30, 2003
    ...impediment to considering the uncontradicted circumstantial evidence when conducting a harmless error analysis. See, Commonwealth v. Dawson, 464 Pa. 254, 346 A.2d 545 (1975). 13. Although this issue was not raised below we will review it under the doctrine of relaxed waiver, which applies t......
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