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COMMONWEALTH v. WRIGHT. (04/16/63)

April 16, 1963

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
WRIGHT.



Appeal, No. 380, Jan. T., 1962, from order of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County, Nov. T., 1961, Nos. 862 to 865, inclusive, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Walter Wright. Order affirmed; reargument refused May 24, 1963.

COUNSEL

Arlen Specter, Assistant District Attorney, with him Louis F. McCabe, Assistant District Attorney, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., First Assistant District Attorney, and James C. Crumlish, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Martin Vinikoor, with him Marvin S. Baker, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 411 Pa. Page 82]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

The Commonwealth appeals from an order of the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County, granting the petition of the defendant, Walter Wright, under indictment for murder, to suppress certain money evidence allegedly obtained through an illegal search and seizure.

[ 411 Pa. Page 83]

The relevant facts may be stated thusly: On October 26, 1961, at about 3:15 a.m., an armed robbery of a taproom in South Philadelphia occurred, during which the bartender was shot and killed. Information given the police pointed the finger of suspicion at the defendant, who was arrested without a warrant in his apartment about 6:15 a.m. on the same day. The legality of the arrest is not questioned. At the time the defendant was taken into custody, the apartment was searched but nothing material was found.

Following the arrest, the defendant was taken to police detective headquarters and questioned.

About 10:30 a.m., the police investigating officers returned to the defendant's apartment. Up to this point, the defendant had not made any incriminating statements. No search warrant had been issued or was in their possession. The officers were met in the hallway by the defendant's wife and they told her that her husband was under arrest. They also told her that he had admitted the crime and sent them for the "stuff." This latter statement was false. Admittedly, the wife was frightened and upset. She admitted them to the apartment and immediately told them that her husband had returned home earlier in the morning in a highly excited state and asked her the whereabouts of the "doll with the hole in it," which was a doll with a zipper in the back. She related that the defendant had opened the zipper and stuffed money into the opening. The police then picked up a doll, but the wife said that it was not the one and pointed to another. An examination of this last mentioned doll revealed the presence of one hundred sixteen dollars inside.*fn1 It is this evidence that is the subject of the attack in this proceeding.

[ 411 Pa. Page 84]

Subsequently, the defendant made a written statement admitting ...


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