Com. v. Trill

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore CIRILLO; CIRILLO; BECK; BECK
Citation374 Pa.Super. 549,543 A.2d 1106
Decision Date08 July 1988
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. James J. TRILL, Appellant.

Page 1106

543 A.2d 1106
374 Pa.Super. 549
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania
v.
James J. TRILL, Appellant.
Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Argued Sept. 21, 1987.
Filed May 12, 1988.
Reargument Denied July 8, 1988.

Page 1108

[374 Pa.Super. 554] Nicholas J. Caniglia, Wayne, for appellant.

Sandra L. Elias, Deputy Dist. Atty., Media, for Com., appellee.

Before CIRILLO, President Judge, and BECK and TAMILIA, JJ.

CIRILLO, President Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County following James J. Trill's conviction for robbery, simple assault, terroristic threats, and theft by receiving stolen property. We affirm.

The charges against Trill arose out of an incident that occurred at the Riddle Ale House, Middletown Township, Delaware County, on the evening of January 8, 1984. At approximately 7:30 p.m. Trill entered the restaurant and walked behind the bar counter. He then tapped the bartender, John Naughton, on the shoulder and requested a "take out" order of beer. Mr. Naughton informed Trill that Riddle Ale House did not provide take out service for its customers, and he further explained that restaurant policy prohibited patrons from being behind the bar counter. Consequently, Mr. Naughton asked Trill to return to the area in [374 Pa.Super. 555] front of the bar. Trill ignored this request and opened his overcoat to display what appeared to be a rifle. He then stated: "[T]his is a sawed-off shotgun, open that [cash register] drawer and give me the money or I'll blow your f------- brains out." Mr. Naughton indicated that he could not open the cash register drawer without the manager's assistance. Thwarted in his attempt to obtain the cash from Naughton, Trill began to search the dining room area of the restaurant, hoping to locate the manager. While Trill was gone, Naughton found his manager in the back

Page 1109

room of the building, and told him to summon the police.

Trill exited the building without obtaining any cash and was immediately observed by State Police Trooper Joseph Karlin, who had arrived at the scene in less than thirty seconds after receiving the call. Trill was standing in the restaurant parking lot, beside a station wagon. Upon noticing the arrival of the police, Mr. Naughton vaulted out into the parking lot and struck Trill, exclaiming "That's the guy!" The police officers apprehended and arrested Trill and confiscated a toy rifle that he had allegedly represented as authentic during the attempted robbery. The rifle was clearly visible to the officers through the open door of the automobile where Trill was standing. A search of Trill incident to his arrest disclosed the presence of a gold watch, a man's wedding band, a gold cigarette lighter with the inscription "Don," and medication with the name Donald Pritchett on the label. Police later discovered that these items had been stolen from Donald Pritchett's car earlier in the day. Trill was then taken into custody and detained pending trial.

A jury trial was held in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County before the Honorable Anthony R. Semeraro. Although Trill interposed a defense of insanity, the jury found him guilty but mentally ill on the charges of robbery, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3701, simple assault, id. § 2701, and terroristic threats, id. § 2706. He was found guilty of the charge of theft by receiving stolen property, id. § 3925. The trial court denied post-trial motions. This appeal followed.

[374 Pa.Super. 556] Trill advances the following seven issues for our review: (1) whether the charges against him should have been dismissed by the trial court pursuant to Rule 1100 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure; (2) whether Trill's conviction of theft by receiving stolen property must be vacated since it is inconsistent with the verdict of guilty but mentally ill; (3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the finding that Trill was not insane; (4) whether the trial court denied Trill a fair and impartial jury trial by failing to grant his requested questions for voir dire; (5) whether the trial court improperly permitted the admission of hearsay testimony regarding the physician's report of his sanity; (6) whether the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the charge of legal insanity; and (7) whether Pennsylvania's guilty but mentally ill statutory scheme, 18 Pa.C.S. § 314, violates Trill's constitutionally protected equal protection and due process rights.

Trill initially contends that the trial court should have dismissed the charges lodged against him because of the Commonwealth's alleged failure to comply with Rule 1100 of Pennsylvania's Rules of Criminal Procedure. Rule 1100 provides, in pertinent part:

(a)(2) Trial in a court case in which a written complaint is filed against the defendant after June 30, 1974 shall commence no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date on which the complaint is filed.

* * *

* * *

(c)(1) At any time prior to the expiration of the period for commencement of trial, the attorney for the Commonwealth may apply to the court for an order extending the time for commencement of trial.

* * *

* * *

(2) A copy of such motion shall be served upon the defendant through his attorney, if any, and the defendant shall also have the right to be heard thereon.

Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(a)(2), (c)(1), (2).

Rule 1100 "serves two equally important functions: (1) the protection of the accused's speedy trial rights, and (2) [374 Pa.Super. 557] the protection of society." Commonwealth v. Brocklehurst, 491 Pa. 151, 153-154, 420 A.2d 385, 387 (1980); Commonwealth v. Simms, 509 Pa. 11, 500 A.2d 801 (1985). Bearing this in mind, our supreme court has offered the following standard for reviewing Rule 1100 claims:

So long as there has been no misconduct on the part of the Commonwealth in an effort to evade the fundamental speedy trial rights of an accused, Rule 1100

Page 1110

must be construed in a manner consistent with society's right to punish and deter crime.... [C]ourts must carefully factor into the ultimate equation not only the prerogatives of the individual accused, but the collective right of the community to vigorous law enforcement as well. Strained and illogical judicial construction adds nothing to our search for justice, but only serves to expand the already bloated arsenal of the unscrupulous criminal determined to manipulate the system.

Commonwealth v. Genovese, 493 Pa. 65, 72, 425 A.2d 367, 370-71 (1981). Further, "[t]he administrative mandate of Rule 1100 certainly was not designed to insulate the criminally accused from good faith prosecution delayed through no fault of the Commonwealth." 493 Pa. at 70, 425 A.2d at 370. It is with these precepts in mind that we consider Trill's Rule 1100 claim.

The first criminal complaint against Trill, Information 127-84, was filed on January 9, 1984; the second complaint, Information 541-84, was filed on January 19, 1984. Therefore, pursuant to Rule 1100, the trials should have commenced on or before July 10 and July 19, 1984, respectively. Any delay beyond the 180-day speedy trial period must be either excluded from the computation of the period under Rule 1100(d), or justified by an order granting an extension pursuant to Rule 1100(c). Commonwealth v. Snyder, 280 Pa.Super. 127, 421 A.2d 438 (1980).

Rule 1100 excludes from the computation of the 180-day time frame any period of delay that results from "the unavailability of the defendant or his attorney." Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(d)(3)(i). In the case at bar, the Commonwealth [374 Pa.Super. 558] is entitled to several exclusions because of Trill's unavailability for trial. Trill requested a continuance of the preliminary hearing to allow the appointment of conflict counsel from January 17 to February 7, 1984, a period of time encompassing twenty-one days. This excludable time was not contingent upon Trill's express waiver. See Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(d)(3)(ii). Consequently, we exclude this twenty-one days in our Rule 1100 computation. Additionally, Trill was granted a continuance for psychiatric evaluation from April 30 to May 14, 1984. The Commonwealth is also entitled to the exclusion of these fifteen days, bringing the total amount of excludable days as a result of Trill's unavailability at this early stage to thirty-six days.

Under Rule 1100, the Commonwealth is entitled to apply to the trial court for an order extending the time for commencement of the trial. Pa.R.Crim.P. 1100(c)(1). On June 25, 1984, the Commonwealth properly filed a Rule 1100 extension petition which resulted in the grant of an extension on both informations for ninety days from the date that Trill was declared competent to stand trial. The order stated: "the time for commencement of trial is extended for a period of ninety (90) days after the date when Defendant is declared competent to stand trial by the appropriate medical authorities at Haverford State Hospital." In light of the extension, our inquiry turns to a determination of whether Judge Surrick's extension order was properly followed.

Trill claims that he was declared competent to stand trial by the authorities at Haverford State Hospital on September 25, 1984; however we note that on that same day Trill "walked off" the grounds at Haverford State Hospital and was arrested on new robbery, stolen car, and resisting arrest charges. After his arrest and recapture, the trial court reassessed Trill's competence to stand trial. The result of the inquiry was an order, dated November 23, 1984, adjudicating Trill incompetent to stand trial. Thus, even if we were to consider September 25, 1984 as the threshold date for the commencement of the ninety-day [374 Pa.Super. 559] period, the trial court's November 23, 1984 order declaring Trill incompetent to stand trial vitiated the effect of Judge Surrick's order. Two months later, on January 28, 1985, the court entered another order declaring that...

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57 practice notes
  • USA v. Vela Jr, No. 08-50121.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 26, 2010
    ...is found to lack moral culpability-an extreme result that can be upsetting to society. See, 624 F.3d 1162e.g., Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 543 A.2d 1106, 1116-18 (1988) (detailing episodes of public outcry over various courts' uses of the insanity defenses). It is only reasona......
  • State v. Neely, No. 19085
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • September 20, 1991
    ...1109, 1112-13 (Ind.1982) (guilty but mentally ill verdict serves state interest of securing just convictions); Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 543 A.2d 1106 (1988) (verdict eliminates wrongful relief from criminal liability--a rational legislative goal), alloc. denied, 522 Pa. 603......
  • Geschwendt v. Ryan, No. 91-1244
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 18, 1992
    ...of insanity, as directed by the Pennsylvania legislature, if such a verdict is not made known to the jury. See Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 567, 543 A.2d 1106, 1114-15 (1988), appeal denied, 522 Pa. 603, 562 A.2d 826 Case law demonstrates that Pennsylvania trial judges and prac......
  • Com. v. Brown
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • October 19, 1999
    ...uphold its provisions." Commonwealth v. Chilcote, 396 Pa.Super. 106, 118-20, 578 A.2d 429, 435 (1990) (citing Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 569-71, 543 A.2d 1106, 1116 (1988)). "`The right of the judiciary to declare a statute void, and to arrest its execution, is one which, in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • USA v. Vela Jr, No. 08-50121.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 26, 2010
    ...is found to lack moral culpability-an extreme result that can be upsetting to society. See, 624 F.3d 1162e.g., Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 543 A.2d 1106, 1116-18 (1988) (detailing episodes of public outcry over various courts' uses of the insanity defenses). It is only reasona......
  • State v. Neely, No. 19085
    • United States
    • New Mexico Supreme Court of New Mexico
    • September 20, 1991
    ...1109, 1112-13 (Ind.1982) (guilty but mentally ill verdict serves state interest of securing just convictions); Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 543 A.2d 1106 (1988) (verdict eliminates wrongful relief from criminal liability--a rational legislative goal), alloc. denied, 522 Pa. 603......
  • Geschwendt v. Ryan, No. 91-1244
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 18, 1992
    ...of insanity, as directed by the Pennsylvania legislature, if such a verdict is not made known to the jury. See Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 567, 543 A.2d 1106, 1114-15 (1988), appeal denied, 522 Pa. 603, 562 A.2d 826 Case law demonstrates that Pennsylvania trial judges and prac......
  • Com. v. Brown
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • October 19, 1999
    ...uphold its provisions." Commonwealth v. Chilcote, 396 Pa.Super. 106, 118-20, 578 A.2d 429, 435 (1990) (citing Commonwealth v. Trill, 374 Pa.Super. 549, 569-71, 543 A.2d 1106, 1116 (1988)). "`The right of the judiciary to declare a statute void, and to arrest its execution, is one which, in ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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