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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. CHAPMAN v. MARONEY. (03/17/64)

March 17, 1964

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



Appeals, Nos. 283 and 284, Jan. T., 1963, from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Potter County, Sept. T., 1962, No. 153, and March T., 1962, No. 54, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. George H. Chapman v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

George H. Chapman, appellant, in propria persona.

John A. Duvall, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 414 Pa. Page 77]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

The appellant, George H. Chapman, shot and killed his wife on August 10, 1947. He was indicted on a general charge of murder. On September 17, 1947, he appeared in court with counsel and entered a plea of guilty to the indictment. Testimony on behalf of the Commonwealth and the defendant was presented to the court, and on November 24, 1947, he was adjudged guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death. On appeal, this Court affirmed the judgment: Commonwealth v. Chapman, 359 Pa. 164, 58 A.2d 433 (1948). The sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment.

Chapman has since instituted a series of five habeas corpus actions seeking his release from prison. We are here concerned with appeals from orders in two such actions dismissing the petitions. In one proceeding here involved, the court entered into a full and complete hearing at which the defendant and his counsel were present. The issue was disposed of in a comprehensive opinion after a careful review of the entire record. In the other proceeding involved, the petition was dismissed without hearing. Since the questions raised are the same in both appeals, they will be discussed and disposed of in one opinion.

The evidence indicated that the killing occurred in the home of the parties involved at about 1:55 o'clock in the afternoon. The defendant was taken into custody at the scene of the crime shortly after 10:00 o'clock on the same night. When the police officers arrived

[ 414 Pa. Page 78]

    at the home, the defendant was sleeping, and when awakened appeared to be in an intoxicated condition. He was very talkative and immediately volunteered the information that he had shot his wife.

On the following night, August 11, 1947, at about 8:15 p.m. o'clock the defendant was questioned by the investigating officers about the shooting and he freely made a complete statement reciting in detail the surrounding facts and circumstances. The questions and answers were recorded by typewriting. When completed, the recorded statement was read to the defendant. He signed his name to each of the three pages thereof, and the following day, August 12, 1947, swore before a justice of the peace that the answers given were true. This statement was admitted in evidence at the hearing before the court as part of the Commonwealth's case.

It is now urged by the defendant that the above statement was secured from him while he was under the influence of intoxicants and that its use deprived him of a fair trial and due process of law. It appears that he is under the belief that he gave and executed this statement the night of the arrest. A reading of the record ...


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