The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD, III
This is a habeas corpus case in which a state prisoner seeks to challenge the introduction of his prior criminal record and a confession allegedly uncounseled and coerced, both of which were used against him at his trial. The Pennsylvania courts have rejected these contentions on their merits, and federal scrutiny is now appropriate.
Turning first to the confession: Relator asserts that the confession was taken in violation of Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478, 84 S. Ct. 1758, 12 L. Ed. 2d 977 (1964). That contention is now foreclosed because Parker's conviction became final in 1959. Johnson v. State of New Jersey, 384 U.S. 719, 86 S. Ct. 1772, 16 L. Ed. 2d 882 (1966).
Parker, however, contends also that the confession was coerced, although nowhere does he allege that his plea was induced by the confession. At the hearing in the state court, the confession was read into evidence by the detective who took it. There was no objection by the defense, and no effort to examine the detective on voir dire to determine its voluntariness. The cross-examination relating to the taking of the statement was perfunctory and there was no motion to strike the statement. When defendant took the stand, he testified to substantially the same facts that were in the statement. He was asked no questions on direct examination concerning the statement, but on cross he testified to circumstances suggesting possible coercion. The matter was not pursued by the defense and near the close of cross-examination the following occurred (state transcript, p. 100):
"Q The things in the statement, most of them, are correct, aren't they?
"MR. DASHIELL: I think Your Honor should be aware that we are not denying what is in the statement.
"THE WITNESS: No, I am not denying the statement.
"THE COURT: As a matter of fact, he points out no contradictions or inconsistencies in the statement."
At the conclusion of the evidence, there was no motion to strike the statement or for the judge to disregard it.
Assuming pro arguendo that the statement was coerced, we are nonetheless convinced that relator is in no position now to attack the finding of second degree murder and the ensuing sentence. Under Pennsylvania law, the failure to object to allegedly inadmissible evidence precludes later challenge to its admission. Pellegrene v. Luther, 403 Pa. 212, 216, 169 A.2d 298 (1961). And although on federal habeas corpus "the procedural default will not alone preclude consideration of [the] claim." Henry v. State of Mississippi, 379 U.S. 443, 452, 85 S. Ct. 564, 570, 13 L. Ed. 2d 408 (1965), if the failure to object is a "deliberate by-passing by counsel of the contemporaneous-objection rule as a part of the trial stategy," ibid., pp. 451-452, 85 S. Ct. p. 569, relator is equally barred in the federal courts. Henry v. State of Mississippi, supra.
In this case, relator voluntarily took the stand. By so doing, he invited belief in his testimony that he had been provoked into the killing. And since his testimony was essentially the same as his statement, he thus invited belief in the statement. By not objecting, relator succeeded in getting into evidence that which he could not otherwise have done, a prior consistent statement. Cf. Commonwealth v. Friedman, 193 Pa.Super. 640, 647, 165 A.2d 678 (1960); cf. Commonwealth v. Kay, 14 Pa.Super. 376 (1900). Relator was then in a position to point to early corroboration of the only defense he advanced at trial, the defense of provocation. The concatenation of the relator's voluntary testimony consistent with his earlier statement and counsel's failure to object to the statement lead inescapably to the sole inference that the failure to object was a deliberate by-passing of the state rule as a part of trial stategy.
There is still another reason why the admission of the statement is no ground for relief. Under Pennsylvania law a plea of guilty to murder generally is a plea of guilty to second-degree murder. Commonwealth v. Iacobino, 319 Pa. 65, 178 A. 823 (1935); Commonwealth v. Markle, 394 Pa. 34, 145 A.2d 544 (1958). The burden is on the Commonwealth to raise the homicide to first-degree, Commonwealth ex rel. Dandy v. Banmiller, 397 Pa. 312, 155 A.2d 197 (1959), and on the defendant to lower it to voluntary manslaughter. Commonwealth v. Green, 10 Pa.Dist. & Co.R. 56 (1927). Because he was found guilty of exactly what he pleaded to, the confession played no part in the determination of guilt. The conviction was not one "following the admission into evidence" Rogers v. Richmond, 365 U.S. 534, 540, 81 S. Ct. 735, 5 L. ...