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COMMONWEALTH v. BATLEY (01/09/70)

decided: January 9, 1970.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BATLEY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Mercer County, Dec. T., 1968, No. 2, in case of Commonwealth v. Gary Lee Batley.

COUNSEL

Michael J. Wherry, for appellant.

Robert F. Banks, Assistant District Attorney, with him Joseph J. Nelson, Assistant District Attorney, and Edward M. Bell, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Chief Justice Bell concurs in the result.

Author: Jones

[ 436 Pa. Page 379]

On the evening of March 28, 1968, Gary Batley, Kenneth Perrine [Batley's half-brother], Arthur McConnell and Donald Hosack abducted four persons, namely, Kenneth Frick, Richard Dragan, Kathleen Kreminski and Jean Leister*fn1 from an automobile owned by Frick's father, which was parked near a deserted restaurant located on a rural road in Butler County.

At gunpoint Dragan and Frick were ordered from Frick's car, their wallets taken from them, and they were then forced into the trunk of a Ford motor vehicle which had been rented by McConnell from an agency in Mercer, Pennsylvania. The two girls were ordered into the interior of the same motor vehicle. The abductors then entered that vehicle and drove to a restaurant, at which time and place Perrine purchased beer, and the parties then proceeded to a place near a railroad siding.

During the evening of March 28th and the early morning of March 29th, the four men, who had been

[ 436 Pa. Page 380]

    previously unknown to the girls but who became known to them as Ken, Chris, Art and Don, repeatedly had sexual relations with both girls, either at gunpoint or with guns readily available, such assaults taking place in the area of the railroad siding, in several motor vehicles and at a farmhouse owned by McConnell near Mercer, Pennsylvania.

After leaving the railroad siding area, Perrine and McConnell broke into a Pennsylvania Highways Department shed and stole two long-handled shovels. The four men with the two girls then proceeded to a lane near a strip mining area, known as "Pizor's," at which point Perrine and McConnell left the motor vehicle and departed with the shovels, which had been on the floor of the back seat of the motor vehicle. The two men returned approximately one-half hour later. Perrine and Hosack, at gunpoint, then ordered Frick out of the trunk of the motor vehicle, took him with them down the lane and later returned without him.

Some time later, the men obtained another Ford motor vehicle. Two of the men, with the Kreminski girl, then rode in the one motor vehicle, and the other two men, with the Leister girl, rode in the other motor vehicle. At approximately 5:00 a.m. on March 29, 1968, both motor vehicles proceeded to McConnell's farmhouse, and, shortly after arriving there, Perrine and McConnell departed in the one motor vehicle, leaving at the farmhouse Batley, Hosack, the two girls and Dragan. Dragan, up to that point, had been continuously confined in the trunk of the one motor vehicle but was released from the trunk at that time.*fn2 After the departure of Perrine and McConnell, Dragan, who had been tied up and placed in an upstairs bedroom

[ 436 Pa. Page 381]

    at the farmhouse, managed to untie himself. The fact that Dragan was untied was unknown to Hosack but known to Batley. Without Hosack's knowledge, Batley then managed to give a knife to Dragan, and, shortly thereafter, Batley left the farmhouse. Dragan and the two girls finally managed to overpower Hosack, ran away from the farmhouse, and notified the Pennsylvania State Police of the incidents. In all, Dragan and the two girls had been with the abductors from approximately 9:00 p.m. on March 28th until 10:00 a.m. on March 29th.

When the police were notified, the girls and Dragan knew the abductors only by their nicknames and did not know Frick's whereabouts although the girls had been told that Frick had been tied up in the strip mine area and that, if he was unable to extricate himself, he would no doubt be found by persons working in and about the strip mine area.

The police then began an extensive investigation to locate Frick and to apprehend the abductors. The search continued until approximately 9:30 p.m. on March 29th, and, during the course of the search, the girls accompanied the police, endeavoring to point out various points and locations which they recalled during the time they were in the custody of their abductors. On March 29th, at approximately 9:20 p.m., Batley, accompanied by his mother and his girl friend's mother, appeared at the Mercer substation of the Pennsylvania State Police and gave himself up. He was removed from the presence of his mother and his girl friend's mother, taken into an office in the substation, and, in the presence of four State Policemen and before any questioning, he was given the Miranda warnings.*fn3 The police handed Batley a card containing the warnings, then asked each of the questions of Batley, to which

[ 436 Pa. Page 382]

Batley responded. After Batley had been given these warnings and upon his indication that he was aware of his constitutional rights and did not want counsel, questioning then began.*fn4 Shortly after the questioning began, Batley told the police that Perrine and Hosack had taken Frick up "Skunk Lane," located near a house owned by a family named Bestwick and that, when Perrine and Hosack returned, they said that they had shot Frick. At that point the questioning ceased, and the police officers, accompanied by Batley, went to the area indicated, followed footprints up the lane, noticed a spot where there had been recent digging and found Frick's body lying in a grave two feet deep. Batley was then returned to the substation, again orally given the Miranda warnings to which he responded, and then Batley made a statement which was tape recorded.

Subsequently, Batley was charged with murder, burglary, rape and armed robbery and was indicted on all these charges. When arraigned, Batley and the three other men pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, to armed robbery and to murder generally. A three-judge court then sat, accepted Batley's pleas, entered into a hearing, and, after hearing, Batley was

[ 436 Pa. Page 383]

    found guilty of murder in the first degree, of rape and armed robbery. Batley was sentenced on the murder conviction to life imprisonment, to two 10 to 20-year terms on the rape conviction, said terms to run consecutively, and to a 5 to 10-year sentence on the armed robbery conviction, that sentence to run concurrently rather than consecutively. From the ...


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