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COMMONWEALTH v. HUGHES (06/22/71)

decided: June 22, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HUGHES, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1968, No. 286, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Mary Hughes.

COUNSEL

Byrd R. Brown, for appellant.

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

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J. Hoffman and Spaulding, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Jacobs

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 182]

On the morning of June 28, 1968, a police officer of the Pittsburgh narcotics squad obtained a warrant to search the first-floor apartment of Merle Bedford and Mary Hughes, at 226 Dinwiddie Street in Pittsburgh, for narcotics. The affidavit for the warrant recited information received that Bedford and Hughes were packaging and selling narcotics from the apartment; that the informant had provided information in the past which resulted in arrest, and seizure of narcotics;*fn1 and that addicts were seen entering and leaving the apartment after short stays.

Having this warrant in his possession, affiant and three other police officers, all of whom were on the narcotics squad and had vast experience in narcotics investigations, began a surveillance of the apartment house at 226 Dinwiddie Street. The apartment house was two and one-half to three stories high with apartments on each floor. Appellant occupied two rooms in the rear, on the first floor, from which a door opens

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 183]

    into a common hallway. This common hallway is entered from the outside by a door on the front porch which gives access to the whole building.

At approximately 11:30 p.m. on June 28, the officers, still undertaking their surveillance, observed a woman known by them to be a drug addict, enter the front entrance to the apartment building. The officers followed the woman and observed the appellant meet the woman at the entrance and open the door for her. The woman then appeared to hand something to appellant. When the first officer was several feet away from the woman, appellant saw him and ran through the hallway to the rear of the hall. The officer went through the open door and followed her. Appellant ran up a flight of stairs and entered a lighted bathroom on the second floor. The officer was in close pursuit behind her.

The bathroom was a communal one used by the tenants of all the apartments located in the building. When appellant entered the bathroom she threw a change purse, which was in her left hand, under a bathtub. The officer who was just entering the room observed this action. He then grabbed appellant by both arms to restrain her and directed a second officer, who had just entered the room, to retrieve the change purse. The purse was easily located under the tub and was found to contain six glassine bags of white powder and six capsules. An additional capsule was found at appellant's feet and a $10 bill was seen in her right hand. Upon analysis, the six glassine bags were found to contain heroin and the seven capsules were found to contain cocaine.

Appellant was indicted for possession of narcotic drugs, a felony. Prior to trial, she filed a motion to suppress the evidence which was seized. This motion was denied and she was later found guilty in a jury ...


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