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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SANDERS v. MARONEY (03/16/65)

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 16, 1965.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. SANDERS, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY

Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Miscellaneous No. 12402, 1964, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. William Sanders v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

William Sanders, appellant, in propria persona.

Thomas A. Pitt, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, and A. Alfred Delduco, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 417 Pa. Page 381]

William Sanders was indicted for the December 29, 1959 murder of Dorothy Thompson and counsel were appointed by the court to represent him. With the assistance of counsel, Sanders entered a general plea of guilty before a court en banc on December 27, 1960, and the court immediately heard testimony to determine the degree of guilt and the punishment.*fn1 By its opinion and order of May 29, 1961, the court determined that Sanders was guilty of murder in the first degree and fixed the sentence at life imprisonment. Sentence was formally pronounced in open court on June 2, 1961. There was no appeal from the judgment of sentence.

The present appeal is from the denial, without hearing, of Sanders' petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The petition alleged denial of Sanders' constitutional rights because he was not represented by counsel either when he confessed,*fn2 or when he appeared at his preliminary hearing before a justice of the peace, or during the coroner's inquest.*fn3

[ 417 Pa. Page 382]

Appellant-petitioner does not contend, nor does the record indicate, that his plea of guilty was anything other than voluntarily and intelligently entered. On this record, the plea having been accepted by the court, the court's sole inquiry was to determine the degree of guilt and the penalty. Petitioner's "plea constituted an admission of his guilt and of all the facts averred in the indictment; it constituted a waiver of all non-jurisdictional defects and defenses." Commonwealth ex rel. Walls v. Rundle, 414 Pa. 53, 55, 198 A.2d 528, 529 (1964). Of course, this does not mean that a defendant who has pleaded guilty to murder waives the right to object to the admission of improper evidence which will bear on the degree of guilt and the punishment to be imposed. In the instant case, however, there was no attack on the involuntariness of petitioner's confession. There was no challenge to the voluntariness based either upon the absence of counsel at any stage of the proceedings or upon any other premise.*fn4 Petitioner at no time, for any reason, contended that his confession was involuntary.*fn5

[ 417 Pa. Page 383]

Since the voluntariness issue was not raised for determination by the court which heard the testimony on the plea, it is deemed waived and we need not pass upon it in a habeas corpus proceeding. Commonwealth ex rel. Fox v. Maroney, 417 Pa. 308, 207 A.2d 810 (1965). The principles governing the need for the timely raising of an issue apply equally to proceedings upon pleas of guilty as well as to trial proceedings.

The order below is affirmed.

Disposition

Order affirmed.


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