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COMMONWEALTH v. JOHNSON (06/17/65)

decided: June 17, 1965.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JOHNSON, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgments of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Allegheny County, June T., 1964, Nos. 170 and 191, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Cornelius Johnson.

COUNSEL

Alan Frank, for appellant.

Edwin J. Martin, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, and Hoffman, JJ. (Flood, J., absent). Opinion by Hoffman, J.

Author: Hoffman

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 148]

At a trial before a jury, appellant was convicted on five indictments charging five separate and distinct burglaries (Nos. 170, 189, 190, 191 and 192, June Sessions 1964). The indictment at No. 170 also charged malicious prowling. Appellant's motion for a new trial was refused by the court below. Consecutive sentences of four to eight years were imposed at Nos. 170 and 191. Sentence on the other bills was suspended for a period of twenty years.

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 149]

Appellant was first apprehended as the result of a burglary which allegedly occurred on June 18, 1964. On that date, at about 4:00 a.m., an intruder was discovered in the nurses' home of the Allegheny General Hospital located on the North Side of the City of Pittsburgh. The police were summoned. One police officer saw the intruder slide out through a window to a courtyard twenty-five feet below. The intruder then escaped by leaping through a glass window encased in a wire mesh. Blood on the broken window and on the floor indicated that the intruder had been injured in this escape.

Some time after 4:00 a.m. a cab driver picked up a man, who had a white rag wrapped around his arm, on the North Side of Pittsburgh. The cab driver, who later identified appellant as this rider, drove him to the Hill district in Pittsburgh. At about 6:00 a.m. the same morning, in response to a telephone call, the police apprehended appellant in Mercy Hospital where he was being treated for a cut arm.

Appellant was held continuously in custody from June 18, 1964. A police officer testified that several days later, on or about June 24, 1964, appellant confessed not only to the burglary at the nurses' home but also to four other burglaries which occurred on the North Side of Pittsburgh. He stated that appellant volunteered this information without any interrogation by the police, and that appellant never asked for a lawyer. After a preliminary hearing on June 24, 1964, appellant was formally held for trial on the charge of burglary at the nurses' home.

Further testimony of this officer indicated that on June 25, 1964, appellant was driven to the sites of the four other burglaries where he again admitted his guilt. Police officers stated, however, that appellant refused to sign a statement admitting his participation in any of these burglaries. After a second preliminary

[ 206 Pa. Super. Page 150]

    hearing on July 10, 1964, appellant was held for trial on ...


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