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UNITED STATES EX REL. CROWSON v. BRIERLEY

October 17, 1968

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. James CROWSON
v.
Joseph R. BRIERLEY, Superintendent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BODY

 BODY, District Judge.

 I.

 Relator petitions this Court for a writ of habeas corpus based upon his claims that his confession to complicity in murder was obtained illegally and that therefore his plea of guilty was induced illegally. Having carefully considered relator's claims, the briefs of counsel, and evidence adduced at the original trial and two full hearings on this petition, this Court believes the claims have not been proven by the relator and that it must therefore deny the relief requested.

 Relator has been confined in a state institution under a life sentence imposed on September 9, 1957. In 1965, after a full evidentiary hearing before Judge Gold, relator was denied a writ of habeas corpus for practically the same claims presented before this Court. *fn1"

 Two evidentiary hearings were held before this Court on December 9, 1966 and January 23, 1967. While retaining jurisdiction, this Court ordered a de novo certification hearing in the Quarter Sessions Court of Philadelphia to determine the validity of the original binding over from the Juvenile Court, where relator had not been represented by counsel. On May 10, 1968 Judge Jamieson handed down his decision following the de novo certification hearing, stating inter alia that "even without the confession, the remaining testimony establishes a prima facie case of murder." *fn2"

 II.

 On Thursday, July 25, 1957, at about 8:45 A.M., a druggist was shot in his store by three youths attempting a robbery. The weapon used was a sawed-off shotgun which was later found behind a co-defendant's house. That evening at about midnight, relator was picked up by police at his home and taken to a police station. Relator's mother had called police earlier Thursday to report her son to be missing since he had failed to come home Wednesday night. Relator was questioned until about 5:00 A.M. Friday morning, July 26, about the drugstore stick-up and murder. Relator denied any involvement and was released without being charged.

 Relator contends for the first time before this Court that "they [police] smacked me, and one of them had a stick and kept hitting me on my knees with it every now and then and on my legs. That was about it." *fn3"

 At about 2:20 A.M. Saturday morning, July 27, approximately twenty-two hours after being released on Friday morning, the police again picked up the relator at his home. He was brought to City Hall, Room 117, where he was questioned by at least three police officers. A co-defendant in the case, Isaiah Green, was already at City Hall in police custody in a different room. Sometime between 3:15 A.M. and 4:00 A.M. Saturday morning, relator gave the police an oral confession. The relator testified that the questioning before he gave police his oral confession, lasted between one-half hour and one hour. *fn4"

 At about 4:00 A.M. Green began giving answers for a written statement in the presence of the relator Crowson. Some time later Edwin Walker, a co-defendant, was brought in. Green finished his written confession at about 5:00 A.M. The questions and answers were typewritten by the police. The police began relator's confession at about 6:00 A.M. Walker's confession was written after relator's. At about 8:00 A.M. each defendant signed all three typewritten confessions which had been given in each others' presence and which were consistent in all important particulars.

 The only warning given to relator with respect to his Constitutional rights was given before he signed his written confession. It stated:

 
"We want to warn you that anything you say may - or sign - can and will be used for or against you at the time of trial in court. Knowing this, are you still willing to make a voluntary statement." *fn5"

 The relator stated that he understood the warning which was given to him orally. *fn6" The confession was read to the ...


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