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COMMONWEALTH v. FRAZIER (06/28/71)

decided: June 28, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
FRAZIER, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, March T., 1968, Nos. 1081 and 1091, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Daniel Frazier.

COUNSEL

Morris Paul Baran, with him Harry D. Sporkin, for appellant.

David R. Scott, 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, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Justice Eagen concurs in the result.

Author: O'brien

[ 443 Pa. Page 179]

This is an appeal from appellant's first-degree murder conviction and sentence to life imprisonment for his participation in the robbery-murder of Charles Mosicant. His appeal to the Superior Court from the judgment of sentence of ten to twenty years imprisonment on the aggravated robbery bill was also certified to this court in order that both appeals could be heard together. No question has been raised as to the sufficiency of the evidence or as to the substantive truth of appellant's self-incriminating statements which were used to convict him and which led to finding the murder weapon and some of the spoils of the robbery on persons named by appellant as collaborators in the crime. Instead, this appeal centers on the admissibility of the statement. Appellant contends that his statements were improperly admitted because he was not

[ 443 Pa. Page 180]

    given Miranda warnings at the proper time and because the statements were not voluntarily made.

The events which we must carefully examine began when Charles Mosicant's taproom was held up and he was murdered by three young men on December 15, 1967. The police had no suspects, but the Commonwealth contends that Homicide Detective Hoffman, who was in charge of the investigation, had a hunch that some rival gang might have been trying to frame the Sixteenth and Dauphin Street Gang (16-D) by coming into the 16-D's territory and committing the holdupmurder. Pursuant to this theory, on the orders of Hoffman, on December 19 at 8:30 a.m., Detectives Sincavaga and Williams went to appellant's home, saw him coming out of his home, and asked appellant to go with them to the Police Administration Building. Appellant and his older brother accompanied the two detectives to police headquarters.

When he got to the station house, appellant was interviewed so that an intelligence summary, consisting of his physical characteristics, residence, family connections, and gang affiliations, could be made. In addition, a Polaroid picture of appellant was taken. However, there was no interrogation as to the taproom robbery and slaying. After the intelligence summary was taken, appellant and his brother were left in a room off the interrogation room. Sometime thereafter, before the arrival of Detective Hoffman, appellant's brother left.

The suppression hearing judge found that when Detective Hoffman arrived, sometime after 3:00 p.m., he had no reason to suspect appellant, and, in fact, did not do so. In Detective Hoffman's own words, when he began talking to the appellant: "It was a general discussion at the beginning of what's going on out there, had they been warring, as stated before, with

[ 443 Pa. Page 181]

    anybody else; can he think of anybody that would come down into that territory to hang this thing on them to make it appear ...


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