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COMMONWEALTH v. BITTNER (01/07/71)

decided: January 7, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BITTNER, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Sept. T., 1966, No. 39, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edward Bittner.

COUNSEL

Alan Frank, for appellant.

Carol Mary Los, Assistant District Attorney, with her Robert L. Campbell, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the decision of this case.

Author: O'brien

[ 441 Pa. Page 217]

On June 10, 1966, while being moved within the Pittsburgh Public Safety Building, appellant Edward Bittner shot and killed Officer Gaetano of the Pittsburgh Police Department with the officer's gun. Appellant was indicted for murder and voluntary manslaughter by a grand jury in September, 1966. Eighteen months later, on March 11, 1968, appellant's case was listed for trial. Prior to trial, appellant's counsel filed numerous pretrial applications for relief including an application to quash the indictment for failure to afford

[ 441 Pa. Page 218]

    him a speedy trial and a challenge of the array of jurors.

The speedy trial application was denied by the trial judge after oral argument. The challenge to the array of jurors was denied by the trial judge after an evidentiary hearing and oral argument thereon.

Immediately thereafter the matter proceeded to trial. Appellant was convicted of murder in the first degree and this appeal followed the denial of post-trial motions and formal sentencing to life imprisonment.

Appellant presents three arguments. He first repeats his allegations that he was denied a speedy trial and that he was denied an impartially selected jury. In arguing that he was denied a speedy trial, appellant emphasizes the twenty-one month delay between his arrest and trial and contends that all of this delay was the fault of the Commonwealth. We do not agree with appellant's view of the facts. We believe that much of the delay between his arrest and trial was of his own making.

On June 22, 1966, following an unsuccessful attempt to postpone the Coroner's inquest, appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. On August 12, 1966, a hearing was held and the petition was denied by order dated October 6, 1966. An appeal was taken to this Court and was quashed by per curiam order on November 28, 1967, on the grounds that an appeal was premature. Com. ex rel. Bittner v. Price, 428 Pa. 5, 235 A.2d 357 (1967). The record was remanded to the court below on December 11, 1967.

On August 19, 1966, appellant attempted an unsuccessful prison break and was subsequently hospitalized for several weeks to recuperate from ...


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