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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. STORCH v. MARONEY (11/10/64)

decided: November 10, 1964.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. STORCH, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Dec. T., 1963, Miscellaneous Docket No. 16, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Ernest Earl Storch v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Ernest Earl Storch, appellant, in propria persona.

Robert F. Hawk, Assistant District Attorney, and John H. Brydon, District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.

Author: Eagen

[ 416 Pa. Page 56]

The appellant, Ernest Earl Storch, on August 14, 1953, was convicted by a jury of "Accessory before the fact" to murder. He was represented by counsel of his own choice. On September 2, 1953, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. No post trial motions were made in the trial court, nor was an appeal from the judgment of sentence filed.

On October 8, 1963, an action in habeas corpus was instituted. The court appointed the counsel suggested by Storch to represent him in these proceedings. Later, the action was dismissed and writ denied without hearing.*fn1 This appeal followed.

[ 416 Pa. Page 57]

Three questions are posed by this appeal. They will be discussed ad seriatim.

Appellant's wife was found dead of strangulation and stab wounds in the early morning of February 25, 1953. Appellant promptly reported the incident to the police and, after some preliminary investigation at the scene by the officers, voluntarily went to the Butler State Police Headquarters to assist in the investigation. During the hours immediately following, he manifested a great willingness to cooperate with the investigating officers in their efforts to apprehend the responsible parties. That same night, he was confronted with evidence indicating that his description of events prior to the killing did not bear the stamp of truth. Following this, about eleven p.m. o'clock on February 25, 1953, while alone with a state police sergeant, he made a statement which was written down in longhand by the officer and when completed was signed by the appellant. Therein, he stated, inter alia, that he had paid $3500 to two colored men whose last names he did not know "to take her (his wife) out of his life."

On February 27, 1953, the appellant was again interrogated by investigating officers and upon this occasion the questions and answers were tape recorded. Before this began, it was indicated to him that he need not discuss the case and that anything he said would be used against him in court.

During this interview, he recited in long detail a series of incompatible experiences with his wife, and the payment of a substantial sum of money to colored men with the understanding on his part that they ...


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