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COMMONWEALTH v. FRYE (04/23/69)

decided: April 23, 1969.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FRYE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer, Quarter Sessions and General Jail Delivery of Allegheny County, Sept. T., 1966, No. 35, in case of Commonwealth v. Edward Frye.

COUNSEL

Anthony C. Troiano, Assistant Trial Defender, with him George H. Ross, Director, for appellant.

Charles B. Watkins, Assistant District Attorney, with him Carol Mary Los, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 433 Pa. Page 476]

On January 25, 1967, a jury found Edward Frye guilty of murder in the second degree. The Court en banc dismissed defendant's motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment. On February 5, 1967, Frye was sentenced to the Western Pennsylvania Diagnostic Clinic for a term of not less than five nor more than fifteen years. This appeal followed.

Defendant and the victim, Robert Alston, were roommates and both worked as bellboys at a golf club. On the night of Alston's death, defendant and Alston had argued at a local bar and also in their room. Tenants at the same apartment or rooming house testified that during the argument defendant chased Alston to the second floor with a knife in his hand. After the two men were separated by tenants, defendant and Alston returned to their room on the third floor. Defendant testified that Alston then attacked him and that during the fight Alston was accidentally cut by defendant's knife. On the other hand, the Commonwealth contends that on their return to the third floor

[ 433 Pa. Page 477]

    room defendant stabbed Alston and after the stabbing Alston ran from the house to a nearby service station, where he collapsed. Defendant went looking for Alston and found him at the service station. Defendant then accompanied Alston in the police ambulance to the hospital "giving the police the impression that he was Alston's brother." Since Alston was unable to speak, homicide detectives sought information from defendant, who told them that Alston had been stabbed. The Commonwealth proved that defendant, in response to a question by Detective DiMaria, "Did you stab this Man?" responded, "Yes, if you want to know the truth. Yes, I did it." At this point defendant was warned of his Constitutional rights and was placed under arrest.

Defendant advances twelve arguments in support of his appeal.

Defendant contends that he was unlawfully arrested without a warrant. The record reveals, however, that at the time defendant was arrested the arresting officer knew that a felony had been committed (Alston had been stabbed) and had probable cause to believe that defendant had committed the stabbing since defendant had chased Alston with a knife in his hand and after the stabbing, and immediately preceding arrest, had voluntarily admitted to the officer that he had stabbed Alston. Under these facts and circumstances an arrest without a warrant is valid. Commonwealth v. Goslee, 427 Pa. 403, 234 A.2d 849. The law is well established that warrantless arrests must be predicated upon probable cause and probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the arresting officer's knowledge and of which he had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to justify a reasonable belief that an offense has been or is being committed and that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing

[ 433 Pa. Page 478]

    the offense. Commonwealth v. Goslee, 427 Pa., supra; Commonwealth v. Ellsworth, 421 Pa. 169, 218 A.2d 249; Commonwealth ...


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