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COMMONWEALTH v. GRAHAM (06/28/62)

June 28, 1962

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GRAHAM, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 58, March T., 1961, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery and Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of Westmoreland County, July T., 1959, No. 263, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Russell Graham. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Blair A. Griffith, for appellant.

Edward B. Doran, Assistant District Attorney, with him Richard E. McCormick, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 408 Pa. Page 157]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

William Russell Graham, fifty-four years of age, was indicted, tried and found guilty of first degree murder. In accordance with the jury's recommendation, the court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. A motion for a new trial was denied. This appeal is from the judgment of conviction and sentence.

The defendant's only contention is that his conviction was secured and based solely upon oral, written and tape-recorded statements that he gave to the police; that these statements were obtained through duress and involuntarily made; that their admission into evidence at trial violated his rights under the Fifth Amendment and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The testimony of the Commonwealth may be fairly and briefly summarized thusly: Marcia Gail Cordon, fifteen years of age, on the evening of Monday, January 27, 1959, attended a high school basketball game in Irwin, Pennsylvania, with some of her school

[ 408 Pa. Page 158]

    friends. She had been driven to the game from her home, located in a small community approximately one mile from Irwin, in an automobile by her sister and the latter's boy friend. Following the game, about 9:30 p.m., she went to a close-by soda shop (Isalys), where the defendant was a frequent customer. She was looking for her sister in order to obtain a ride home; not finding her sister in the soda shop, she phoned to her home to ascertain if the sister had arrived there. She then left her school friends and started to walk towards Main Street in Irwin in the direction of her home. This was the last occasion anyone saw her alive.

On Saturday evening, January 31, 1959, her dead body was found, lying face down, in a small creek in a rural area about eight to ten miles from Irwin. A rape, if not perpetrated, had at least been attempted, she was severely beaten and the injuries to her body indicated that she had fought fiercely to keep her virginity from being violated. Her skirt had been removed and was found wedged underneath her body; her sweater was pulled up and was bunched underneath her chin; her brassiere was torn and was pulled down exposing her breasts.

A pathological examination disclosed, among other things: a comminuted fracture of the lower right leg involving both the tibia and the fibula; many severe bruises and contusions of the face, head, chest and arms; four large deep lacerations of the head penetrating through the scalp down to the bone, evidently made by the use of force with a hard foreign object; one of these contusions of the head measured on the inner side, one and one-quarter inches in width and one and three-fourths inches in length, was oblong in shape; a second degree ...


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