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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. RAUCCI v. PRICE. (11/13/62)

November 13, 1962

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. RAUCCI, APPELLANT,
v.
PRICE.



Appeal, No. 109, March T., 1962, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1962, No. 2059, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Louis Raucci v. Grant S. Price, Warden. Order affirmed; reargument refused November 29, 1962.

COUNSEL

Albert A. Fiok, with him M. Barney Cohen, for appellant.

William Claney Smith, Assistant District Attorney, with him Louis Abromson, Assistant District Attorney, and Edward C. Boyle, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 409 Pa. Page 92]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County denying a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in an extradition proceeding and ordering appellant, Louis Raucci, to be turned over to the custody of the appropriate authorities of the State of Ohio.

On July 16, 1959, Ruth Jane Whitney, a courier for the Niles Bank of Niles, Ohio, was abducted and robbed of $41,000. Sixteen months after the commission of the crime - on November 13, 1961 - Raucci was arrested in Pittsburgh on a governor's warrant and an extradition request originating in the State of Ohio. Raucci was charged with the abduction of Ruth Jane Whitney for the purpose of extortion and robbery. Availing himself of Section 10 of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act,*fn1 Raucci on the day of his arrest petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County for a writ of habeas corpus, averring therein that he was being held in custody on a void extradition warrant and alleging that he was not in Niles, Ohio, at the time of the commission of the crime.

A hearing was held pursuant to this petition. The Commonwealth called as its first witness the victim, Ruth Jane Whitney, who testified that she had identified Raucci at a police-lineup in Pittsburgh as the assailant

[ 409 Pa. Page 93]

    and as the person named in the indictment. She likewise identified him in court from the stand and then testified as to his appearance and dress at the time of the crime. The Commonwealth also produced William Edward Parker who had also identified Raucci at the Pittsburgh police-lineup and then positively identified him in open court as the person he had seen commit the crime. Parker testified as to Raucci's appearance and dress on the day of the crime. Seven witnesses who were either members of his family or close friends, were called by Raucci. They testified that he was not in Niles, Ohio, on the day the crime was committed, but rather was at the site of his employment in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Raucci himself testified that he was not in Niles, Ohio, on July 16, 1959. Raucci does concede, however, that Niles, Ohio, may be reached from the Pittsburgh area by automobile in approximately one and one-half hours.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the court below entered an order denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and directing that Raucci be turned over to the Ohio authorities, but that, pending an appeal to this Court, he be released upon posting a supersedeas bond. The opinion of the court below was predicated on the conclusion that the identification of Raucci as the assailant and as the person named in the Ohio indictment by the two Commonwealth witnesses was sufficient to justify his extradition and that Raucci's evidence did not contradict this positive identification evidence.

Upon denial of the petition, an appeal was taken to this Court. While the appeal was pending, Raucci petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County averring that the Commonwealth's witnesses had given to the police authorities information which directly conflicted with the testimony ...


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