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COMMONWEALTH EX REL. DUNCAN v. RUNDLE (03/14/67)

decided: March 14, 1967.

COMMONWEALTH EX REL. DUNCAN, APPELLANT,
v.
RUNDLE



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 4766 of 1965, in case of Commonwealth ex rel. Johnnie Lee Duncan v. A. T. Rundle, Superintendent.

COUNSEL

Johnnie Lee Duncan, appellant, in propria persona.

Vram Nedurian, Jr. and Ralph D'Iorio, Assistant District Attorneys, Paul R. Sand, First Assistant District Attorney, and Jacques H. Fox, 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

[ 424 Pa. Page 386]

This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, dismissing appellant's

[ 424 Pa. Page 387]

    petition for a writ of habeas corpus. On March 24, 1960, defendant while represented by counsel pleaded guilty in the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Delaware County to the indictment charging him with murder. After taking testimony to determine the degree of murder and the proper punishment, the Court found defendant guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced him to life imprisonment. No appeal was taken from the judgment of sentence.

On April 22, 1965, defendant filed a petition for habeas corpus in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County and a hearing was held on this petition on September 10, 1965. At this hearing defendant-relator was again represented by private counsel. On March 1, 1966, the Court dismissed relator's petition and from the Order relator took this appeal.

Relator-appellant now alleges as error: (1) He was arrested without a warrant; (2) He was held without counsel until he gave a confession; (3) He was not warned of his right to remain silent; (4) The trial Judge had no right to sit alone in accepting the plea of guilty or in finding the degree of guilt or fixing the sentence and the proceedings should have been held before a three-Judge Court; and (5) There was not sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilty of murder in the first degree.

As to appellant's contention that his conviction was unlawful because he was arrested and searched by a police officer without a warrant, it has long been the rule in this State that an officer or a private person is privileged to arrest without a warrant where a felony has actually been committed and he has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person he arrests committed the felony. Commonwealth ex rel. Garrison v. Burke, 378 Pa. 344, 106 A.2d 587; Commonwealth ex rel. Spencer v. Ashe, 364 Pa. 442, 71 A.2d 799, cert. denied, 339 U.S. 990.

[ 424 Pa. Page 388]

In the instant case, appellant was seen by two eyewitnesses plunging a knife into his wife. The police were immediately called and within two hours they found appellant hiding under a motor vehicle and arrested him. Under these facts, it is clear ...


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