Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Commonwealth v. Holden case brief

Commonwealth v. Holden case brief summary
134 A.2d 868 (Pa. 1957)

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Allegheny County (Pennsylvania), which convicted him of and sentenced him for murder in the first degree. The indictment against defendant had charged him with murder and voluntary manslaughter. Upon the verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Defendant's conviction arose from the beating death and robbery of a woman at her speakeasy home. Defendant denied being at the victim's home at any time during the night or morning in question, but two eyewitnesses, who had been drinking heavily at the speakeasy, identified defendant as having been in the victim's room at the time she was killed and positively identified defendant as the man who brutally beat them at one time.

The issue raised by defendant on appeal was whether the evidence of his identity was sufficient to sustain a conviction for murder.

The court found that it was, and it affirmed defendant's conviction.


  • The court stated that the two eyewitnesses were in a position to identify defendant and that the identification was positive and amply sufficient. 
  • The court agreed with defendant that the trial court judge should have called the jury's attention to the intoxication of the two eyewitnesses, but because defendant's counsel failed to raise any such objection or point for charge on the subject of intoxication at the trial, he was prohibited from raising such a point on appeal to establish reversible error.

The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

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