Commonwealth v. Steele.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtDREW, Justice.
Citation66 A.2d 825,362 Pa. 427
Decision Date24 June 1949
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. STEELE.

362 Pa. 427
66 A.2d 825

COMMONWEALTH
v.
STEELE.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

June 24, 1949.


Appeal No. 124, March term, 1949, from the judgment and sentence of the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Cambria County at No. 10, June sessions, 1948; George W. Griffith, Judge.

Blair F. Steele was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and he appeals.

Affirmed.

66 A.2d 826

Before MAXEY, C. J., and DREW, LINN, STERN, PATTERSON, STEARNE and JONES, Jj.

John M. Bennett, Johnstown, for appellant.

David C. Wolfe, Assistant District Attorney, Samuel R. DiFrancesco, District Attorney, Johnstown, for appellee.

DREW, Justice.

LaRue Steele was killed on March 20, 1948, by a bullet from a .22 caliber rifle. The bullet entered the victim's cheek and lodged in her brain causing almost instant death. Her husband, Blair F. Steele, defendant, admitted firing the fatal shot, but claimed that the shooting was accidental. Defendant was tried on an indictment charging murder and voluntary manslaughter and was found guilty on the latter count. After denying motions in arrest of judgment and for new trial, the learned court below imposed a sentence of from two to five years, and this appeal followed.

On the morning of March 20, 1948, the .22 caliber rifle, with which the fatal wound was inflicted, was sitting just inside the door of the bedroom which defendant and his wife shared in their home in Nanty-Glo, Cambria County. That morning defendant arose at nine o'clock leaving his wife and her seven year old son by a previous marriage in bed asleep. Upon arising, defendant performed certain chores about the house, then returned to the bedroom and called to his wife that it was time to get up. After her unintelligible reply, defendant picked up the rifle, pointed it in her direction and again told her to get up. He then pulled the trigger and the gun fired causing the fatal wound. At the trial, defendant testified that he thought

66 A.2d 827

the rifle was not loaded and that in picking it up, he was ‘kidding or fooling’. He further stated that he did not intend to shoot her, and that he didn't remember putting his finger on the trigger but that he must have done so or the gun would not have fired. No other persons witnessed the shooting.

Testimony on behalf of the Commonwealth revealed that defendant was inclined to be quick tempered and ‘hot-headed’. Four witnesses testified that he had quarrelled with his wife frequently and would often call her profane names. Several of those witnesses also said that they had heard him, on different occasions, threaten to kill her and that at least once he had hit her and knocked her down. There was further testimony that defendant's wife had told him she would have to leave him, and he replied, ‘No woman will ever leave me’; that a few months prior to her death, she had left him for a period of two weeks, and upon her return he threatened to beat her again.

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58 practice notes
  • U.S. ex rel. Matthews v. Johnson, No. 73-1424
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 15, 1974
    ...v. Frazier, 420 Pa. 209, 216 A.2d 337 (1966); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 396 Pa. 359, 152 A.2d 913 (1959); Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 66 A.2d 825 7 The Pennsylvania Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, 701, as amended December 1, 1959, P.L. 1621, 1, 18 P.S. 4701, in effect at the time of ......
  • Com. v. Whitfield
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 1, 1977
    ...v. Moore, 398 Pa. 198, 157 A.2d 65 (1959); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 396 Pa. 359, 363, 152 A.2d 913, 915 (1959); Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 430, 66 A.2d 825, 827 (1949); Commonwealth v. Kellyon, 278 Pa. 59, 61-62, 122 A. 166, 167 (1923); Commonwealth v. McMurray, 198 Pa. 51, 60, 47 ......
  • Com. v. Moore
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 3, 1975
    ...v. Moore, 398 Pa. 198, 157 A.2d 65 (1959); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 396 Pa. 359, 363, 152 A.2d 913, 915 (1959); Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 430, 66 A.2d 825, 827 (1949); Commonwealth v. Arcuroso, 283 Pa. 84, 87, 128 A. 668, 670 (1925); Commonwealth v. Kellyon, 278 Pa. 59, 61--62, 12......
  • Com. v. Simms
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 21, 1974
    ...an act in itself unlawful creates a rebuttable presumption that the perpetrator acted with the requisite intent. Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 66 A.2d 825 (1949); Commonwealth v. Daynarowicz, 275 Pa. 235, 119 A. 77 (1922). The presumption is that one intended the necessary and probab......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • U.S. ex rel. Matthews v. Johnson, No. 73-1424
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 15, 1974
    ...v. Frazier, 420 Pa. 209, 216 A.2d 337 (1966); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 396 Pa. 359, 152 A.2d 913 (1959); Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 66 A.2d 825 7 The Pennsylvania Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, 701, as amended December 1, 1959, P.L. 1621, 1, 18 P.S. 4701, in effect at the time of ......
  • Com. v. Whitfield
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 1, 1977
    ...v. Moore, 398 Pa. 198, 157 A.2d 65 (1959); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 396 Pa. 359, 363, 152 A.2d 913, 915 (1959); Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 430, 66 A.2d 825, 827 (1949); Commonwealth v. Kellyon, 278 Pa. 59, 61-62, 122 A. 166, 167 (1923); Commonwealth v. McMurray, 198 Pa. 51, 60, 47 ......
  • Com. v. Moore
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • October 3, 1975
    ...v. Moore, 398 Pa. 198, 157 A.2d 65 (1959); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 396 Pa. 359, 363, 152 A.2d 913, 915 (1959); Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 430, 66 A.2d 825, 827 (1949); Commonwealth v. Arcuroso, 283 Pa. 84, 87, 128 A. 668, 670 (1925); Commonwealth v. Kellyon, 278 Pa. 59, 61--62, 12......
  • Com. v. Simms
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 21, 1974
    ...an act in itself unlawful creates a rebuttable presumption that the perpetrator acted with the requisite intent. Commonwealth v. Steele, 362 Pa. 427, 66 A.2d 825 (1949); Commonwealth v. Daynarowicz, 275 Pa. 235, 119 A. 77 (1922). The presumption is that one intended the necessary and probab......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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