Commonwealth v. Skwortzo

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Citation173 A. 480,113 Pa.Super. 345
Decision Date13 July 1934
173 A. 480
113 Pa.Super. 345


Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

July 13, 1934.

Appeal No. 291, April term, 1934, from judgment and sentence of Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery, Allegheny County, No. 11, October Session, 1932; Harry H. Rowand, Judge.

James Skwortzo was convicted of arson, and he appeals.

Affirmed, and record remitted, with directions.


J. Thomas Hoffman and Guy B. Hoge, both of Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Andrew T. Park, Dist. Atty., and Jacob E. Kalson, Asst. Dist. Atty., both of Pittsburgh, for the Commonwealth.

TREXLER, President Judge.

On the morning of June 30, 1932, a are broke out in the home of James Skwortzo, the appellant. He was charged with arson, tried, and together with two other defendants convicted.

173 A. 481

The appeal is taken by the defendant for the reason, as he claims, that there was not enough evidence to convict. There is no question that the building in which the fire occurred was in the control of the defendant, and there is circumstantial evidence produced warranting the court below in submitting the matter to the judgment of a jury. Mrs. Richardson, who lived between fifty and sixty-five feet from the home where the two men, Zaleski and Pauline Alifinoff, confederates of Skwortzo, were living, testified that on the afternoon of June 29th, the day preceding the fire, the defendant appeared with a package at that place; that Zaleski opened the door and admitted him. She identified the defendant, and the circumstances were such that she necessarily had a good view of him. The condition of the house showed a deliberate attempt to prepare it for the spread of any fire that might be started. There was evidence of fire in the washing machine in the basement and a keg there had an odor of kerosene or gasoline. There was oil in the clothes presses and around the baseboards of the room, which had not dried even several hours after the fire. The defendant was in financial difficulty. A sci. fa. sur mechanic's lien notice had been posted on the premises by the sheriff. The property was insured. A man, answering the description of Zaleski, who was codefendant, was seen leaving the home of the appellant immediately after the fire was discovered. The contention of the commonwealth is that he was the "touch-off man" in the fire, and it appears that he received severe...

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8 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Petro
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 18 Diciembre 1934
    ...173 A. 890; Com. v. Pulemena, 113 Pa. Super. 430, 173 A. 462; Com. v. Perdikakis, 113 Pa. Super. 320, 173 A. 472; Com. v. Skwortzo, 113 Pa. Super. 345, 173 A. In Com. v. Mamulo, 313 Pa. 214, 169 A. 109, 110, where the contention of the commonwealth was that the defendant was an accomplice o......
  • Commonwealth v. De Petro. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 22 Mayo 1944
    ...of fact can be drawn from the combined circumstances.” Brown v. Schock, 77 Pa. 471, 479. See, also, Commonwealth v. Skwortzo, 113 Pa.Super. 345, 348, 173 A. 480. The judgments are affirmed, and it is ordered that the record be returned to the court below and that the defendants appear in th......
  • Commonwealth v. Petro. Same
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • 27 Noviembre 1944
    ...inconclusive that as a matter of law no probability of fact can be drawn from the combined circumstances.’ Commonwealth v. Skwortzo, 113 Pa.Super. 345, 173 A. 480, 481, quoting from Brown v. Shock, 77 Pa. 471. We do not adjudge the Commonwealth's evidence in this case to be either weak or i......
  • Com. v. Carthon
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • 21 Noviembre 1973
    ...which were clearly and unequivocally inconsistent with the defendant's innocence. For example, in Commonwealth v. Skwortzo, 113 Pa.Super. 345, 173 A. 480 (1934), defendant owned his home which he occupied with his family which was partially destroyed by fire. After the fire, oil was found i......
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