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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. MITCHELL v. RUNDLE (01/05/65)

decided: January 5, 1965.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. MITCHELL, APPELLANT,
v.
RUNDLE



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1964, No. 886, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Clarence Mitchell v. Alfred T. Rundle, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Clarence Mitchell, appellant, in propria persona.

Louis Abromson, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 416 Pa. Page 297]

This is an appeal from the denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. The lower court dismissed without a hearing. Appellant-petitioner, Clarence Mitchell, was indicted for murder. Counsel was appointed to represent him and the case came on for trial January 28, 1963.

Petitioner was arraigned in open court with his counsel present at all times. An entire panel of prospective jurors was in the courtroom. Upon being arraigned, petitioner entered a general plea of guilty and affixed his signature to the indictment. The trial judge specifically informed appellant that it would be the court's province to fix the degree of guilt as well as the punishment and that the jury would not be selected to pass upon these matters and would therefore be returned to the jury room.*fn1 The panel of jurors was then excused and the court commenced taking testimony.

The testimony revealed that on June 17, 1962, the body of Mavis Todd was found in a culvert. Death was due to brain concussion and shock following many contusions and stab wounds of her head, face, neck, chest and hands. Microscopic examination of a slide containing a vaginal smear revealed spermatazoa.

Because of information received from those persons who last saw Mavis Todd, together with certain physical evidence, petitioner became the subject of interrogation by the Allegheny County homicide bureau. On June 26, 1962, he gave a written confession.*fn2

[ 416 Pa. Page 298]

This statement and an earlier statement*fn3 of June 20 were admitted into evidence.

Petitioner testified before the trial court on his plea of guilty. He stated that after ...


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