Com. v. Tedford

Decision Date13 December 1989
Citation523 Pa. 305,567 A.2d 610
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania, Appellee, v. Donald Mitchell TEDFORD, Appellant. 43 W.D. 1988
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Peter H. Shaffer, Office of the Public Defender, Butler, for appellant.

David L. Cook, Dist. Atty., David A. Hepting, Robert F. Hawk, Asst. Dist. Attys., Butler, for appellee.



LARSEN, Justice.

On February 6, 1987, the appellant, Donald Mitchell Tedford, was convicted by a jury of the First Degree Murder and Rape of Jeanine Revak. Following the guilty verdicts, a separate sentencing hearing was held pursuant to the Sentencing Code, 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9711 and the jury unanimously returned a sentence of death. The appellant did not file timely post trial motions. On March 20, 1987, the lower court sentenced the appellant to death on the First Degree Murder conviction, and a consecutive term of imprisonment of 8 1/2 to 17 years on the Rape conviction.

Subsequently, the appellant sought and received permission to file Post Verdict Motions, nunc pro tunc which he filed on April

27, 1987. The appellant amended his nunc pro tunc Post Verdict Motions on November 23, 1987, again on January 4, 1988 and still again on February 19, 1988. The lower court, in a Memorandum Opinion and Order dated April 29, 1988, denied appellant's Post Verdict Motions setting the stage for this automatic appeal pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 9711(h) 1 which followed.


The facts of this case are as follows: In the fall of 1985, the victim Jeanine Revak, a 22-year-old woman who had been married for eight months, was seeking to pursue a career in interior decorating. She had studied interior design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and was attempting to obtain full-time employment in that field. During that time she held two part-time jobs. She worked as a part-time floral designer at a flower shop known as By Janice Flower Shop. Also, she worked part-time as an interior designer for a company called Decoratif's.

In late October or early November, 1985, Jeanine Revak visited an interior design and decorating store in the Cranberry Shopping Plaza, Cranberry Township, Butler County, known as The Finishing Touch. The Finishing Touch store in Cranberry was a part of a two store interior decorating business owned by Robert Sasso. There, Jeanine Revak met the appellant Donald M. Tedford who was employed by Robert Sasso, and was in charge of the Cranberry Plaza store. At that time, the appellant was an inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, but had achieved acceptance into a work release program which permitted him to leave the prison daily to work at his job at The Finishing Touch. The victim presented her portfolio to the appellant and inquired about possible employment. The appellant interviewed the victim and examined the portfolio with her. Although the victim was not offered a position at that time, she apparently was encouraged by the appellant that a job may soon be available and that she should keep in touch with him.

On Friday, January 10, 1986, the victim was recovering from an illness which caused her to be absent from her two part-time positions all of the previous days of that week. Because of her illness, she was not scheduled to work at either of her jobs. When her husband, James Revak, left for work at 7:30 a.m. that morning, she told him that she intended to stay at home all day. During the day, from his job, James Revak telephoned home to talk to his wife but there was no answer. Also, Grace Labrise, who worked with the victim at By Janice Flower Shop attempted to reach the victim by telephone five or six times during that day. Ms. Labrise's first call was in the morning at approximately at 10:00 a.m. Her last call was placed sometime in the afternoon. Each time Grace Labrise called she did not get an answer. When James Revak returned home from work at approximately 5:30 p.m., the victim was not there. Her nightgown was on the bed and some of her clothes were strewn about on the upstairs floor. James Revak testified that it was very unusual to find his wife's clothes thrown about on the floor. Further, he found no note explaining her absence.

Meanwhile, at approximately noon on Friday, January 10, 1986, Gary Scheller, a truck driver for Bennett Supply Company, stopped at The Finishing Touch in Cranberry Plaza with a delivery of a container of glue. When he arrived he parked his truck and carried the product to the door. He attempted to enter the store through the front door but found that the door was locked. Just as he set the container on the ground, the appellant opened the door and let him in the store. Mr. Scheller saw a very attractive young lady in the store with the appellant. The appellant admitted that the attractive young lady in the store at the time of the delivery was the victim Jeanine Revak. Mr. Scheller asked the appellant if Lynn Kampers, an employee of The Finishing Touch at the other location at Babcock Boulevard, Allegheny County, testified that she saw the appellant on the morning of January 10, 1986, when she brought his pet cat back to him at the Cranberry store. Because of a sensitive burglar alarm the cat could not be left alone in the store overnight. As a favor to the appellant, she had taken the cat home with her the previous evening. Lynn Kampers testified that, on that Friday morning, she noticed the appellant looked rather tired and smelled of alcohol. Later that day, at approximately 4:30 p.m., she spoke to the appellant on the telephone when he called the Babcock Boulevard store and asked for permission to close early. Appellant told Ms. Kampers it was a quiet day; that he was not busy at all. It is unclear from the record whether appellant was given permission to close early.

the store was closed for lunch. The appellant answered that they, the young lady and he, were getting ready to go out on a service call.

Elizabeth Manuel, a friend of the appellant Donald Tedford, telephoned the appellant at The Finishing Touch on Friday, January 10, 1986, after she arrived home from work. It was approximately 5:30 p.m. when she placed the call. She remembered, that the appellant answered the phone that day by just saying "hello." Every other time she had called him at the store he answered by saying "The Finishing Touch," even when the store was closed. She asked appellant if they were going to get together later that night. Appellant told her he was real busy, and he asked if he could call her later. Since she had to leave the house and run some errands, she called appellant again at about 6:00 p.m. Appellant said he was swamped with work and he would call her later. When Ms. Manuel left to go on her errands, she drove past The Finishing Touch. She noticed that the store was dark. She said that normally, the store is lit up at night, with spotlights on the displays. Appellant did call her twice later that evening and then visited her house, arriving at about 9:30 p.m. He was wearing jeans, a ski sweater and boots. The appellant stayed until about 11:00 p.m. when he told Ms. Manuel he had to leave and go to the north side of Pittsburgh to meet a friend. He mentioned that he belonged to a Vietnam Veterans group and one of the persons in that group was in some trouble. 2 He asked if he could come back later. Ms. Manuel agreed to leave the door open for appellant and he did return at about 4:00 a.m. When he arrived back, Ms. Manuel was in bed. She did not notice what the appellant was wearing when he returned. The next morning, however, as he was leaving, she did notice that he was wearing shoes instead of the boots he was wearing the previous evening. Ms. Manuel identified the ski sweater offered in evidence as the sweater the appellant was wearing when he was at her home on Friday evening, January 10, 1986.

Linda McNamee, a friend of the appellant, testified that she stopped by The Finishing Touch on Friday, January 10, 1986, to pay a social call on Donald Tedford. It was approximately 5:30 p.m. when she arrived. She observed that the inside of the store was dark except for a light shining in the office toward the rear of the premises. Every other time that she had been to or had gone by The Finishing Touch after dark, the premises were well lit. On this particular evening, the premises were dark. She knocked on the door and stood outside for about three minutes. Just as she was preparing to leave, she noticed one of the buttons on the telephone begin to blink, indicating an incoming call. When the blinking stopped and the line remained lit, she knew that someone was in the store and had answered the phone. She knocked Later that evening, when the victim did not come home, James Revak attempted to locate her. He called the places where she was employed without success. At about 11:30 p.m. he called The Finishing Touch. The appellant, who identified himself as "Don," answered the phone. James Revak explained who he was and asked the appellant if he remembered his wife Jeanine. The appellant indicated that he did remember her; that she was a very talented girl; but, he had not seen her that day. On Saturday morning James Revak called the Cranberry Township Police and reported his wife Jeanine missing.

again and waited a while longer. The appellant, wearing jeans and a [523 Pa. 314] ski sweater finally came to the door and, by means of hand signals, he told her that he could not let her in the store because the door was locked and he did not have the key. The appellant indicated that the owner of the store had been there earlier and had taken the key to the door with him when he departed. Ms. McNamee left and went home. Later, at about 7:00 p.m., she placed a phone call to The Finishing Touch. The appellant answered the phone. He explained again that he...

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40 cases
  • Com. v. Tedford
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • November 19, 2008 motions. On direct appeal, this Court unanimously affirmed appellant's convictions and sentences. Commonwealth v. Tedford, 523 Pa. 305, 567 A.2d 610 (1989) ("Tedford I") (relating facts underlying appellant's convictions). In so holding, this Court considered various claims raise......
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    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • April 18, 2007
    ...evidence of mitigating circumstances where his client has specifically directed otherwise." Id. at 612 (citing Commonwealth v. Tedford, 523 Pa. 305, 567 A.2d 610 (1989) (trial court has no duty to compel the introduction of mitigating evidence at sentencing phase of trial when the defendant......
  • Com. v. Reid
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • September 30, 2002 present evidence of mitigating circumstances, defense counsel has no duty to introduce such evidence. Id.; Commonwealth v. Tedford, 523 Pa. 305, 567 A.2d 610, 626-27 (1989). On the other hand, where a defendant has not directed his counsel to refrain from presenting mitigating evidence, ......
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    ...instructions. We accordingly find the trial court did not err in denying appellant's request for change of venue. SeeCommonwealth v. Tedford, 523 Pa. 305, 567 A.2d 610 (1989).(See Doc. 27-4, App K, Marinelli-1 at 13-15). The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees a crimin......
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