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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. ZAFFINA v. MARONEY (11/15/66)

decided: November 15, 1966.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. ZAFFINA, APPELLANT,
v.
MARONEY



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, April T., 1966, No. 71, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Frank Daniel Zaffina v. James F. Maroney, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Frank Daniel Zaffina, appellant, in propria persona.

Edwin J. Martin and Charles B. Watkins, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for appellee.

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

Author: Jones

[ 423 Pa. Page 238]

This is an appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which denied, without a hearing, a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus by Frank D. Zaffina, now serving a life sentence after having been found guilty of murder in the first degree.

The factual background of the events which led to Zaffina's conviction may be briefly stated.*fn1 Zaffina and Michael Popovich, residents of Cleveland, while on a visit to Pittsburgh were introduced to one Vincent Scatena and later to William and Ann Garrison. Popovich, Zaffina and Scatena were shown by William Garrison and Ann Garrison, his wife, the home of an

[ 423 Pa. Page 23984]

year old woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Ensminger. Scatena told Popovich and Zaffina that Mrs. Ensminger kept a substantial amount of cash in a box at her home -- a fact he had learned, allegedly, from Ann Garrison -- and a plan was made to rob this elderly woman. Early in the evening of November 17, 1957, Zaffina and Popovich knocked on Mrs. Ensminger's door;*fn2 when she answered the door, they grabbed her, tripped and fell on her. While Mrs. Ensminger was attempting to resist Popovich struck her in the jaw. Mrs. Ensminger died from injuries sustained when she fell and by reason of the blow to her jaw. All that Popovich and Zaffina found was 17 cents in cash; they then left the house and returned to Scatena's tavern. Sometime later, Popovich, Zaffina, Scatena and the Garrisons were apprehended. William Garrison and Scatena were found guilty of murder in the first degree and their punishment fixed at life imprisonment after jury trials in which both Popovich and Zaffina testified on behalf of the Commonwealth.

Thereafter, Ann Garrison, Popovich and Zaffina -- each represented by separate counsel -- simultaneously entered pleas of guilty to murder generally. After a hearing before a two-judge court, Popovich and Zaffina were adjudged guilty of murder in the first degree and the penalty fixed at life imprisonment and Ann Garrison was adjudged guilty of murder in the second degree.

In Zaffina's petition for a writ of habeas corpus*fn3 he alleges: (a) that his confession was obtained from him by the police by coercion and police brutality; (b) that, at his initial interrogation by the police, he was without counsel; (c) that he was forced by the police

[ 423 Pa. Page 240]

    and the district attorney's office to testify falsely against both ...


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