rights of petitioner under the Constitution of the United States have been denied.
1. Was the Petitioner Denied the Right to Trial by Jury?
Counsel representing the petitioner were very thorough, learned and experienced in the trial of criminal cases. Counsel advised the petitioner it would be to his best interests to enter a plea of guilty rather than stand trial. Counsel fully explained the result of the entry of the plea of guilty, and that testimony would be taken by the court to determine the degree of murder. After the plea of guilty was entered, the trial judge interrogated the petitioner as to whether he understood the nature of the plea which was entered and the petitioner advised that he did.
At no time, during the hearing, when testimony was taken to determine the degree of murder did the petitioner raise any question or express a desire to withdraw his plea of guilty.
The petitioner never expressed dissatisfaction or disapproval of his legal counsel, and was aware and informed at the time the plea of guilty was entered that his counsel was prepared to proceed with trial if a 'not guilty' plea were entered.
During the hearing before the trial judge on the question of degree of guilt, the petitioner consulted with his counsel and suggested from time to time questions to be asked or inquiry to be made of witnesses who were called to testify.
I cannot conclude that the petitioner was denied a right to trial by jury. In fact, I believe he expressly, with full and complete understanding, waived his right to a jury trial.
2. Did the Petitioner Enter a Plea of Guilty to the Murder Indictment Generally?
There is absolutely no basis for the contention of the petitioner that he intended to enter a plea of guilty only to the crime of involuntary manslaughter. No useful purpose would be gained by making reference to the detailed facts and circumstances which lead to his conclusion.
3. Was the Petitioner Mentally Incompetent to Understand the Nature of His Acts-
(a) at the time of the commission of the crime, and (b) at the time the plea of guilty was purported to have been made?
In order for insanity to be a legal defense to the commission of a crime there must be:
(a) Such a perverted and deranged condition of the mental and moral faculties as to render a person incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong; or
(b) he must be unconscious and unaware at the time of the nature of the act he is committing; or
(c) where, though conscious of it and able to distinguish between right and wrong and know that the act is wrong, yet his will, or the governing power of his mind, has been otherwise than voluntarily, so completely destroyed that his actions are not subject to it, but are beyond his control. Davis v. United States, 165 U.S. 373, 17 S. Ct. 360, 41 L. Ed. 750; Commonwealth v. Keill, 362 Pa. 507, 67 A.2d 276.
Even if the crime were committed under the influence of a maniacal outburst, if the crime violator knew the difference between right and wrong, and that the act was unlawful, said person is responsible for his criminal acts. Commonwealth v. DeMarzo, 223 Pa. 573, 71 A. 893.
The court before whom a defendant is arraigned on an indictment for a crime has a wide discretion in determining whether or not he is in a fit mental state to be tried, and the law does not make it obligatory on the judge to order a preliminary inquest to adjudicate the defendant's sanity or insanity. The entry of a plea of guilty by a defendant to a criminal indictment is an implied admission of the defendant's sanity. Commonwealth ex rel. Smith v. Ashe, Warden et al., 364 Pa. 93, 71 A.2d 107.
The trial judge was definitely of the opinion that the petitioner understood and was fully aware of the nature of the offense which he committed on August 31, 1929, and at the time a plea of guilty was entered on November 12, 1929. This construction is amply supported by competent medical testimony. The trial judge properly considered the medical testimony in reaching a conclusion that the degree of punishment should be limited to life imprisonment rather than the imposition of the death sentence.
Under these circumstances the existence of every fact to show beyond a reasonable doubt the establishment of the crime charged has been proved. Davis v. United States, 160 U.S. 469, 16 S. Ct. 353, 40 L. Ed. 499.
The court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the judge who heard the witnesses and who was solely qualified to pass upon the credibility.
Where a plea of guilty is entered to an indictment charging murder, and the trial judge adjudges the accused guilty of murder in the first degree and finds under all the testimony that the accused was sane at the time he committed the crime, the sentence imposed by the trial judge becomes final and conclusive. Commonwealth v. Smith, 362 Pa. 222, 66 A.2d 764.
I am satisfied the petitioner was fully aware of his acts and deeds, both when the crime was committed and when the plea of guilty was entered to the murder indictment.
There is nothing in the record in the state court which would impeach the fairness and temperateness with which the trial judge approached his most unpleasant task. This is not such a case as would require the federal courts to interfere with the administration of justice in the state courts and discharge the petitioner through a habeas corpus proceeding. The adjudication by the state court that the petitioner was guilty of murder in the first degree and the sentence imposed of life imprisonment was not contrary to the law of Pennsylvania, nor did it deny the petitioner any rights given to him by the Constitution of the United States. The imprisonment is, therefore, proper.
The petitioner has filed several applications for parole but for reasons which are easily understood the applications have been denied. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus is not the proper procedure for obtaining an adjudication of the question whether or not the petitioner is eligible for parole. Commonwealth ex rel. Sherman v. Burke, Warden, 364 Pa. 198, 70 A.2d 302.
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