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COMMONWEALTH v. WRIGHT (07/01/64)

July 1, 1964

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WRIGHT, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 203, Jan. T., 1964, from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Philadelphia County, Nov. T., 1961, No. 862, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Walter L. Wright. Judgment reversed.

COUNSEL

Martin Vinikoor, for appellant.

Vincent C. Veldorale, Assistant District Attorney, with him Thomas M. Reed, Assistant District Attorney, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Jr., First Assistant District Attorney, and James C. Crumlish, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Eagen

[ 415 Pa. Page 57]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

Walter L. Wright, the appellant-defendant, after trial by jury, was convicted of murder in the first degree. Punishment was fixed at life imprisonment. The lower court denied a new trial and imposed sentence in accordance with the verdict. This appeal followed.

The evidence overwhelmingly established the defendant's guilt, but trial errors require that a new trial be granted.

The factual background in brief detail is as follows:

Wright and one Daniel Clemons conspired to burglarize the Reno Cafe in the city of Philadelphia, where Wright had formerly been employed as a bartender. Four separate schemes were plotted and efforts on different occasions to burglarize the cafe were made which failed to succeed.

Subsequently, the two entered into a plan to hold up the bartender in charge of the cafe as he locked up for the night and steal the money available on the premises. In the course of carrying out this plan, the bartender was mortally wounded by a bullet accidentally fired from a gun in the possession of Clemons. Money was then stolen from the cash register and a tin box hidden in a storage room behind the bar, after which the two fled together from the premises through a rear door.*fn1

Wright was taken into custody by the police about three hours later. Several hours afterwards, investigating officers visited his apartment, without a search warrant, and told his wife that her husband had ...


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