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COMMONWEALTH v. MOORE (06/28/71)

decided: June 28, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MOORE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Sept. T., 1967, Nos. 1446 to 1449, inclusive, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Harold Moore.

COUNSEL

Lawrence Goldberg, for appellant.

Joseph D. Grano, Assistant District Attorney, with him Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Pomeroy

[ 443 Pa. Page 366]

Appellant was convicted by a jury of second degree murder and was subsequently sentenced to a prison term of five to fifteen years. The Court of Common Pleas denied appellant's post trial motions, and Harold Moore has now brought this direct appeal from the judgment of sentence.

The record discloses the following factual background. During the early evening of June 30, 1967, one Robert Whitaker, the deceased, left the residence of a friend he was visiting and proceeded to a bar at the corner of 20th Street and Susquehanna Avenue in Philadelphia. At that corner he became involved in a fight with a James Williams, and Williams called for help from his friends (the "Alkey Gang"). Approximately eight men jumped on the deceased and began beating him. There was eyewitness testimony that appellant was among those striking Robert Whitaker. During the fight, Whitaker was stabbed several times by a Charles Leftenant and was hit in the head with a stick by a James Hill. He died at approximately 12:05 a.m. on

[ 443 Pa. Page 367]

July 1, 1967, from multiple stab wounds to the body. A watch was taken from the deceased during the melee.

In this appeal Harold Moore has raised a number of issues. He contends that the custodial confession he made was involuntary, that the suppression court improperly placed the burden of proof on him to show that the confession was not given voluntarily and that the suppression judge erred in allowing the text of the confession to be read into the record. Appellant next argues that the trial court improperly permitted the Commonwealth to introduce evidence of the corpus delicti after the prosecution had stated that its next witnesses would testify as to the confession and appellant had objected to introduction of evidence of the confession because the corpus delicti had not been proven. Error is further asserted in that the trial court allowed the written confession to go out with the jury. Lastly, appellant argues that the felony murder doctrine should have been totally excluded from the case because the person who inflicted the fatal wound to the deceased was adjudged guilty only of second degree murder.

I.

Appellant argues that his confession was involuntarily given because he was kept "confused and offbalance" by interrogation over an 11 1/2 hour period, by lack of sleeping quarters, and by the use of relays of police interrogators. He further states that the confession was given only after a ...


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