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Commonwealth v. Carroll

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
194 A.2d 911 (1963)


After leaving the Army, Carroll (defendant) was selected to attend an electronics school in North Carolina, and as a result, was required to leave his wife and children alone for nine days. Four years earlier, his wife had suffered a skull fracture while attempting to leave Carroll’s car during a heated argument. As a result of her injury, Carroll’s wife suffered a mental disorder diagnosed as schizoid personality type. Carroll’s wife became upset upon learning Carroll would be away for nine days at the electronics school and the two got into a heated argument. Prior to leaving for North Carolina, Carroll placed a loaded .22 caliber pistol on the window sill at the head of their bed so that his wife could feel safe. Upon his return, Carroll informed his wife that he had been assigned to teach at a school which would require him to be away from home four out of the seven nights a week, for a ten week period. A long and violent argument ensued into the night and early the following morning. As Carroll’s wife lay with her back toward Carroll in their bed, Carroll’s anger culminated and he took the pistol from the window sill and fired two shots into the back of his wife’s head, killing her. Shortly thereafter, Carroll wrapped his wife’s body in a blanket, spread, and sheets, tied them with clothesline and took her to the cellar and subsequently to a desolate place near a trash dump. Carroll pleaded guilty generally to an indictment charging him with murder and was tried by a judge without a jury. The court found him guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Carroll appealed, arguing that the evidence warranted a finding of only second-degree murder.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bell, J.)

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