The opinion of the court was delivered by: LUONGO
Edwin W. Gockley is serving a 10-20 year sentence imposed by the Court of Oyer and Terminer of Berks County (No. 167, March Sessions, 1961) after conviction for the murder in the second degree of one Clement J. Smith. In this petition for writ of habeas corpus, Gockley charges that his constitutional rights were violated in that confessions used at his trial were involuntary and were the fruit of an illegal arrest. Hearings were held in this court on August 14, 1967, December 29, 1969 and March 2, 1970.
The nature of the claims presented requires an extensive review of the facts established by the hearings in this court and from the state court records.
In March 1960, Mabel Klein, a resident of the City of Reading, Pennsylvania, mysteriously disappeared. During the course of the police investigation into her disappearance, the officer in charge, Captain John H. Feltman, received reports that Gockley had been seen on the Klein premises, apparently engaged in work of some sort. Accordingly, on July 13, 1960, Gockley was asked to come to Reading City Hall to talk with Captain Feltman. Gockley readily agreed. At this time the police were not aware that a crime had been committed, and Feltman sought only to inquire if Gockley knew of Mabel Klein's whereabouts. Gockley told Feltman that Mabel Klein had entered into a contract with him to make repairs to her premises and had given him a power of attorney. He stated that thereafter Mabel had run off to Georgia and married an Arthur Smith, and that she telephoned Gockley every Friday. Feltman asked Gockley to notify him when Mabel called again and requested that he bring to City Hall the contract for repairs and the power of attorney. Following that conversation, Feltman investigated the information given by Gockley as to Mabel Klein's whereabouts, but the efforts bore no fruit.
Feltman met with Gockley for the second time in September 1960. This meeting was by Feltman's request after Gockley had again been observed on Mabel Klein's premises. At this meeting, Gockley informed Feltman that Mabel Klein had failed to telephone him for some time, and that as a result he had stopped work on the repairs at her home. He again promised to produce the power of attorney and the contract for repairs.
More than a month later, on October 20, 1960, while Feltman was questioning one Ethel Briggs at her home concerning Mabel Klein's disappearance, Gockley appeared. After some discussion, Gockley called Feltman outside, gave him the keys to Mabel Klein's home, and told him that if he wanted further information about Mabel Klein to contact one Clement Smith. Within a few days the police discovered that Smith, too, had disappeared sometime in March 1960. They also learned that a few days after Smith's disappearance, Gockley had attempted to take Smith's belongings from his apartment but Smith's landlady had refused to permit him to do so without authorization. Shortly thereafter the landlady received a postcard from Baltimore, Maryland, purportedly written and signed by Smith, authorizing Gockley to take charge of Smith's possessions. A few days later Gockley returned, paid Smith's back rent and took Smith's property.
On October 31, 1960, Captain Feltman, accompanied by his assistant, Policewoman Betty Jane Wenger, and by Detective Elwood Krause of the State Police, drove to Gockley's residence to inquire about the power of attorney and the repair contract. Gockley wasn't there, but they did encounter him on their way back to Reading. He agreed to return to his home to get the documents. When he arrived there, Gockley left the police for approximately five minutes and returned with two papers, a power of attorney and a contract for repairs, purportedly signed by Mabel Klein. On November 14, 1960, Feltman sent on to the FBI in Washington for handwriting analysis
the papers obtained from Gockley and the aforementioned postcard received by Smith's landlady.
On November 16, a warrant was issued for Gockley's arrest on a charge of forging Mabel Klein's signature on a check. Gockley was arrested at about 6:00 p.m. on November 17. He was questioned that evening on the forgery charges. On the following day, after a search of his premises,
he was questioned for approximately three and a half hours concerning the forgery and about certain articles found during the search. On the morning of November 19, further forgery warrants were issued and Gockley was transferred from Reading to the State Police Barracks outside of Reading. At approximately 11:00 a.m. on that day, the police and representatives of the district attorney's office questioned Gockley again. At about 3:00 p.m. there had been prepared a typewritten question and answer statement which Gockley signed and in which he related that Mabel Klein had died of natural causes and that, in an altercation with Smith which ensued, he, Gockley, had shot and killed Smith and buried both bodies in a common grave. On that same day Gockley led the police to the gravesite and there he made other damaging admissions. On November 21, Gockley was transferred to the Berks County Prison.
On December 2, 1960, Detective Krause asked Gockley whether he would take a lie detector test. When Gockley replied that he would wait to see his attorney before deciding, Krause discontinued the conversation.
On December 9, 1960, Krause and Feltman interviewed Gockley at Berks County Prison to clear up those portions of his first statement which their investigation had indicated were false. Gockley then told a somewhat different story. He was then removed to Reading to make a formal statement at the District Attorney's office. In that statement, although there were some changes, Gockley again acknowledged that he had shot and killed Clement Smith.
In these proceedings, Gockley contends that his arrest on November 17, 1960, was invalid and that any statements elicited from him thereafter were tainted by the illegality of the arrest. He also charges that his statements were coerced.
After a careful review of the state court records and the testimony presented in this court, I conclude that Gockley's arrest was valid and that his statements were voluntary. The petition for writ of habeas corpus will, therefore, be denied.
The basis of relator's claim that his arrest was invalid is that the police affidavit (referred to as the "information") submitted to the magistrate [alderman] on the basis of ...