Morris F. Cohen, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Albert A. Fiok, Ass't Dist. Atty., and James F. Malone, Jr., Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Before Rhodes, P. J., and Reno, Ross and Wright, JJ.
[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 150]
Appellant was charged with burglary in twenty-two indictments, which were consolidated for trial before one jury. He was found guilty of three charges, and not guilty as to the others. This appeal is from the refusal of the lower court to grant his motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial.
Counsel for appellant advances two contentions (1) that the conviction was based upon confessions and admissions which were improperly received in evidence because they resulted from inducement and were therefore involuntary; and (2) that the District Attorney in his closing address made prejudicial references to the defendant. It will be necessary to set forth the factual situation in some detail.
The charges upon which appellant was convicted relate to the burglarizing of the American Legion Post. No. 681, the Thoma Drug Store, and the dwelling of Eleanor S. Moke. Appellant contends that promises were made to him by a detective that if he would confess to some thirty unsolved burglaries and testify against other suspects, he would be released on bond and would receive suspended sentences. Appellant was also charged with violation of parole and was subject, if convicted, to re-incarceration for an unexpired term of nine and one-half years. He contends that the detective also promised that every effort would be made to obtain for him a reparole. Appellant contends further that these promises were confirmed by other detectives, and by an Assistant District Attorney. He contends further that he was taken before the Judge who was at that time presiding in criminal court, and was informed that the court would follow the recommendations of the District Attorney's office. Thereafter appellant executed a signed confession implicating himself and others in thirty burglaries, including
[ 173 Pa. Super. Page 151]
the three in question. Appellant also made a wire recording of which a transcript was prepared and signed by him. Thereafter, and prior to his hearing, appellant made an oral admission to a representative of the American Legion Post relative to that particular burglary. At the hearing appellant made further oral admissions relative to the Thoma and Moke burglaries. He subsequently pleaded guilty in eight cases and appeared as a Commonwealth's witness against his three accomplices.
At the instant trial, in addition to proving the corpus delicti, the Commonwealth introduced the written confession, the recording, the signed transcript, and testimony as to the oral admissions. Appellant denied his guilt and testified concerning the alleged promises. In rebuttal all persons mentioned by appellant in connection therewith testified that no such promises had been made. For the purpose of affecting appellant's credibility, the Commonwealth also offered in rebuttal the record of fifteen previous convictions of burglary.
Appellant's counsel contends the evidence is so convincing that the confessions resulted from inducement that the court should have ruled them inadmissible as a matter of law, citing Turner v. Com. of Pa., 338 U.S. 62, 69 S.Ct. 1352, 93 L.Ed. 1810. Counsel also contends that the oral admissions in connection with the three burglary charges on which appellant was convicted were inadmissible for the same reason, citing Com. v. Turner, 367 Pa. 403, 80 A.2d 708, in which Turner's second conviction was reversed. To the contrary, we ...