Com. v. Johnson

Decision Date16 October 1974
Citation326 A.2d 315,458 Pa. 23
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee, v. William F. JOHNSON, Appellant.
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Arlen Specter, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., J. H. Isom, Philadelphia, for appellee.




The appellant, William F. Johnson, was convicted in a nonjury trial of voluntary manslaughter and received a sentence of five to ten years imprisonment. Post-verdict motions were denied and this appeal followed.

The appellant raises only one issue in this appeal. He argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the verdict of voluntary manslaughter. The test for sufficiency of the evidence is 'whether, accepting as true all of the evidence, be it direct or circumstantial, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom upon which, if believed, the trier of facts could properly have based the verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime or crimes of which he has been convicted.' Commonwealth v. Malone, 444 Pa. 397, 398, 281 A.2d 866, 867 (1971). See also Commonwealth v. Pride, 450 Pa. 557, 301 A.2d 582 (1973); Commonwealth v. Lee, 450 Pa. 152, 299 A.2d 640 (1973). We have reviewed the record and conclude that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the voluntary manslaughter conviction.

The evidence supports the following facts. The appellant and several other men were sitting around a fire can in a junk yard talking and drinking. After several hours, the appellant left the group. Later that day, the appellant discovered that fifty-five dollars was missing from his pants pocket. He returned to the junk yard where found the victim and two other men sitting around the fire can. The victim and one of the two men had been there earlier in the day with the appellant. The appellant accused the men of taking his money. He demanded, 'You all might as well get it together and get my fifty-five dollars back, or hurt me, cause I'm gonna hurt you all.' The men told the appellant that they had not taken his money. The appellant then picked up a piece of wood, commonly called a two by four, which was seven feet long, and began swinging violently and rapidly at the men. The victim was hit in the head and knocked out of a chair. One of the other men, who saw the appellant strike the victim, immediately ran away, to avoid the appellant's swinging attack. The other...

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