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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. HOUGH v. MARONEY. (01/16/61)

January 16, 1961

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. HOUGH, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY.



Appeal, No. 264, Jan. T., 1960, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1959, No. 3489, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Edward J. Hough v. James F. Maroney, Warden. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Marjorie Hanson Matson, for appellant.

William H. Wolf, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, with him Arlen Specter and Domenick Vitullo, Assistant District Attorneys, Paul M. Chalfin, First Assistant District Attorney, and Victor H. Blanc, District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 402 Pa. Page 372]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN.

Appellant, by this appeal, challenges the legal correctness of the lower court's action in summarily dismissing his petition for writs of habeas corpus and coram nobis. He is presently under sentence of life imprisonment, after conviction by his own plea of guilty to the charge of murder and the determination by the court that his guilt was that of murder in the first degree.

The crime grew out of an armed robbery in which the appellant and two others, David Almeida and James Smith, actively participated. As they attempted to escape from the scene, an off-duty policeman was shot and killed.

Appellant was apprehended almost immediately and later entered a plea of guilty generally to an indictment charging murder. After a hearing before the court, he was adjudged guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. Upon appeal, the judgment of conviction and sentence was affirmed: Commonwealth v. Hough, 358 Pa. 247, 56 A.2d 84 (1948).

Almeida and Smith were apprehended about a year later in another state and returned to Pennsylvania. After trial by jury, the first mentioned was found

[ 402 Pa. Page 373]

    guilty of murder in the first degree, and the penalty was fixed at death. This Court affirmed: Commonwealth v. Almeida, 362 Pa. 596, 68 A.2d 595 (1949). Smith, tried two weeks later, was found guilty by the jury of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. No appeal followed.

Subsequently, Almeida instituted a habeas corpus action in a federal court, alleging for the first time deliberate suppression of material evidence by the Commonwealth. The writ was granted: U.S. ex rel. Almeida v. Baldi, 104 F. Supp. 321 (E.D. Pa. 1951), aff'd, 195 F. 2d 815 (1952); cert. den. 345 U.S. 904, reh. den. 345 U.S. 946. The circuit court of appeals stated that, although the question as to who fired the fatal shot was irrelevant to the issue of whether Almeida was or was not guilty of first degree murder, it was relevant as to the penalty to be imposed by the jury at the trial, and that the suppression of evidence, in so far as it bore on this question, violated due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. Almeida then entered a ...


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