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COMMONWEALTH v. MURPHY (09/21/71)

decided: September 21, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MURPHY, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Aug. T., 1969, No. 1265, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. David Murphy.

COUNSEL

Jonathan Miller and John W. Packel, Assistant Defenders, and Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, for appellant.

Louis A. Perez, Jr. and Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorneys, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Cercone, J. Dissenting Opinion by Spaulding, J. Hoffman, J., joins in this dissenting opinion.

Author: Cercone

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 460]

The appellant, David Murphy, an 18 year old, was indicted on charges of assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery. He was found guilty of the latter charge after a non-jury trial. The charges arose out of a fight on a Philadelphia street on the night of August 2, 1969 in which a number of participants were involved and two people were stabbed. The police received information that appellant was seen in the fight with a knife in his hand, and at about 3:00 a.m. on August

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 4613]

, 1969 they went to his home. Murphy was taken from his house to a police station where he arrived at around 4:00 a.m. At a little after 10:00 a.m. that morning the appellant confessed to the stabbings, and this confession formed the basis of his subsequent conviction.

It is appellant's contention that: (1) The admission of his confession was in violation of the holding in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694, 10 A.L.R. 3d 974 (1966) (hereinafter referred to as Miranda); and (2) the extraction of the confession violated due process of law because of the manner in which it was procured by the police.

Appellant argues that the Miranda case barred the introduction of his confession in this case. The Miranda decision repeatedly emphasizes that warnings must be given to the accused before any actual questioning begins.*fn1 Our own State Supreme Court has also stressed the requirement of adequate warnings before

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 462]

    questioning. See Commonwealth v. Singleton, 439 Pa. 185, 266 A.2d 753 (1970); Commonwealth v. Bennett, 439 Pa. 34, 264 A.2d 706 (1970). It is undisputed in this case that David Murphy was given the Miranda warnings at 10:00 a.m. on August 3, 1969, the morning he was taken to the police station. However, the appellant makes a three-pronged argument to support his conclusion that the introduction of his confession was violative of Miranda.

Appellant's first attack on the basis of Miranda is his contention that the police questioning began before the Miranda warnings were given in this case. The appellant testified that he was questioned intermittently for about six hours from the time he arrived at the station, at about 4:00 a.m., until he was given the warnings at 10:00 a.m. and subsequently confessed. Detective Hodgson, the officer who took the appellant's confession, testified that appellant was not questioned at all until 10:00 a.m., and then only after the Miranda warnings were given. The officer stated that after Murphy was picked up, he was left in an interrogation room while other investigations concerning the stabbing took place; he testified that no questions were asked of the appellant during those six hours. The only communication with the accused, the policeman explained, was to inform Murphy that he was being held for investigation. Murphy's parents, although they did not hear any questioning of their son, testified that another officer told them, between 4:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., that questioning of David was taking place. They did talk with David for a few minutes, however, during this time. The defendant claims that the version of the police as to the occurrences on that morning is incredible and inconsistent.

The resolution of this conflict in testimony was for the finder of fact, in this case for ...


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