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COMMONWEALTH v. MCINTYRE (03/22/65)

decided: March 22, 1965.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MCINTYRE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Jail Delivery of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1961, No. 112, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edward James McIntyre.

COUNSEL

Harold A. Gold, for appellant.

William Claney Smith, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 417 Pa. Page 416]

Walter Plesniak was beaten to death in the early morning hours of March 14, 1960, during the course of an apparent burglary of a McKeesport, Pennsylvania cafe where the victim was employed as a janitor. Appellant, James McIntyre, was tried by a jury on an indictment charging him with the murder and he was found guilty of that crime in the second degree. Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were refused and sentence of six to twenty years imprisonment was imposed. McIntyre appeals directly to this Court.*fn1

The crime was unsolved until January 1961 when appellant, then age 17, gave his commanding officer in the Marine Corps the first of five written statements implicating himself in the burglary and murder.*fn2 In all, appellant made three statements at Parris Island and, later, two in Allegheny County. Appellant, upon his return to Allegheny County, also performed what purported to be a re-enactment of the crime which was filmed. No other evidence of the identity of the killer, or killers, was discovered.

In addition to the burglary-murder, appellant also admitted his guilt of several burglaries which were

[ 417 Pa. Page 417]

    committed after the murder. When he was returned from Parris Island, and after he had made the five statements already noted, McIntyre, on the advice of counsel, entered pleas of guilty to these subsequent burglary offenses. One of these additional burglaries was committed four days after the murder, two were committed four and a half months after the murder, and one was perpetrated nine months subsequent to the murder. Appellant served his sentences for these burglary convictions and was then returned to Allegheny County where, in June of 1963, he was tried for the murder of Walter Plesniak.*fn3

McIntyre's five written confessions, as well as the filmed re-enactment of the commission of the burglary and homicide, were admitted into evidence over the objection of defense counsel and were submitted to the jury. Included in the material read to the jury were statements contained in appellant's fourth and fifth confessions that on a previous occasion he had broken into the cafe where the murder had occurred. Appellant McIntyre testified in his own behalf and repudiated all of his confessions.*fn4

[ 417 Pa. Page 418]

After McIntyre testified, the Commonwealth introduced, and the court admitted over defense objection, the record of appellant's four guilty pleas to the burglaries which were committed subsequent to the date of the murder, but which were disposed of previous to the murder trial. These records were offered and admitted ...


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