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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WAGNER v. MYERS. (03/17/64)

March 17, 1964

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WAGNER, APPELLANT,
v.
MYERS.



Appeal, No. 130, Jan. T., 1964, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 2 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1963, No. 5266, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. William A. Wagner v. David N. Myers, Superintendent. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

William A. Wagner, appellant, in propria persona.

Morris Ostrow and Arlen Specter, Assistant District Attorneys, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., First Assistant District Attorney, and James C. Crumlish, Jr., District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 414 Pa. Page 36]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

This is an appeal from an order in the court below dismissing, without hearing, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

On July 16, 1947, the appellant was indicted for murder. On July 21, 1947, two lawyers were appointed by the court to represent him. On September 4, 1947, accompanied by his counsel, he appeared in court and entered a plea of guilty to the indictment. Testimony was presented before a panel of three judges on behalf of the Commonwealth and the defendant. On September 12, 1947, he was adjudged guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. No appeal from the judgment was entered.

The factual background of the crime is as follows: On May 8, 1947, the defendant and one Miss Dougherty were in an apartment rented by the defendant, when an argument ensued. The defendant violently beat Miss Dougherty causing serious bodily injuries, and finally strangled her to death by applying pressure to

[ 414 Pa. Page 37]

    her throat with his hands. The defendant, a married man, then visited the home of his wife and her family, where he remained for a few days. He then returned to the house where the crime had occurred. The landlady complained about a strange odor emanating from the apartment. The defendant removed the body from a locked closet where he had previously placed it, shoved it into a steel drum, covered it with sawdust, and secured the help of two young boys to cart the drum by wagon to an isolated part of the city, where it was found on June 2, 1947. The appellant was arrested on July 1, 1947, about 6:30 p.m. o'clock. He made and signed a statement admitting his guilt about 11:05 p.m. of the same night.

Appellant advances three reasons in support of his appeal and his application for the writ. They will be discussed ad seriatim.

Appellant contends that he was denied his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel at "critical" stages in the proceedings, namely, the preliminary hearing, the date sentence was imposed, for the presentation of post trial motions, ...


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