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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. DIGGS v. BANMILLER. (11/11/59)

November 11, 1959

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. DIGGS, APPELLANT,
v.
BANMILLER.



Appeal, No. 303, Oct. T., 1959, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, March T., 1959, No. 1892, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. William Diggs v. William J. Banmiller, Warden. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

William Diggs, appellant, in propria persona.

Ernest L. Green, Assistant District Attorney, J. Harold Hughes, First Assistant District Attorney, and Raymond R. Start, District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Watkins

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 102]

OPINION BY WATKINS, J.

This is an appeal from the dismissal of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus by the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County. The record discloses that William Diggs, the relator appellant, was charged in twenty bills of indictment, Nos. 215 to 234 inclusive, June Sessions, 1943 with assault, assault with intent to rob, burglary and larceny, growing out of fifteen purse snatchings from women on the streets of the City of Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

The relator was arrested on April 29, 1943. The cases were called on June 11, 1943 before President Judge SAMUEL E. SHULL, of the 43rd Judicial District, now deceased. The Commonwealth was represented by Assistant District Attorney Karl W. Johnson, now deceased. The relator was not represented by counsel.

[ 191 Pa. Super. Page 103]

He pleaded guilty to all twenty bills of indictment and his signature appears on each bill to said plea. He was sentenced to pay fine and costs and to undergo imprisonment in the Eastern State Penitentiary for terms of 10 to 20 years on bills 215, 216, 217, 218 and 219 respectively, and 5 to 10 years on each of the other bills, all sentences to run concurrently with the sentence of 10 to 20 years on bill 215.

The transcript shows that the county detective related to the court, in the presence of the relator, a series of fifteen handbag snatchings admitted by him. These handbags were all taken from women on the streets of Chester, and their contents ranged from personal items and small sums of money to amounts exceeding $100. He would usually just snatch the bag and run but if he experienced any opposition he struck, slapped or hit his victim with his fist. In some instances the woman fell to the ground; another he knocked to the ground with a punch to the jaw; another was slapped in the face before the taking of the bag; and several of his victims fell to the ground as a result of the taking.

Each incident was described by the officer in detail, an example of which follows: By the court to the officer: "Q. Will you just take your list, which I believe conforms with mine, and tell us the date of the offense, what was taken, from whom it was taken? A. I will go down it. Q. This is what the young man admitted to you? A. Yes. February 18, 1943, time 1 a.m., snatched a hand bag from Mrs. Alice Oliver; place at 3rd and Jeffrey Streets; bag contained $17.20; bag was not recovered." Another example: "April 14, 1943, time 6:45 a.m., snatched hand bag from Josephine Petrillo; ...


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