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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WALKER v. MYERS (06/24/66)

decided: June 24, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. WALKER, APPELLANT,
v.
MYERS



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1965, No. 3845, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Edwin Walker v. David N. Myers, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Edwin Walker, appellant, in propria persona.

Leslie J. Carson, Jr. and Joseph M. Smith, Assistant District Attorneys, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Bell

[ 422 Pa. Page 301]

This is an appeal from an Order by the Court of Common Pleas No. 8 of Philadelphia County, denying without a hearing relator's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

Relator pleaded guilty to murder generally, while represented by two court-appointed counsel. On September

[ 422 Pa. Page 3029]

, 1957, evidence was presented to the Court en banc in order to determine the degree of the crime and the penalty. A written statement in which relator admitted his complicity in the crime was introduced without objection at these proceedings. Relator was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and the Court sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The following allegations of constitutional violations are made by relator: (1) Failure to advise relator of his right to trial by jury; (2) his guilty plea was permitted to be entered unintelligently; (3) his aforesaid written statement was "coerced"; and (4) failure of the public authorities to provide counsel at the time relator signed the statement.

The affidavits of Court-appointed counsel disclosed inter alia that (a) they conferred with relator for two and one-half hours at the prison on August 20, 1957; (b) they discussed the possibility of a guilty plea with the Court, with counsel for other defendants in the same crime, and with the District Attorney at the time of the hearing; and (c) consulted with relator concerning his plea; and (d) advised him to plead guilty generally to the charge of murder; and (e) told him that under such a plea the matter would be heard and determined by a Court of three Judges.

Furthermore, one of relator's attorneys, Mr. Kanner, stated before the three Judge Court and in the presence of the relator what the effect of the plea would be: "May it please the Court, on behalf of Walker, we are at this time ready to plead and enter a plea of guilty, generally, to murder. And under the statutes, as I understand it, at this stage it is presumed to be second degree. The burden is on the ...


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