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COMMONWEALTH v. MARTIN (10/12/71)

decided: October 12, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MARTIN, APPELLANT



Appeals from order and judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Dec. T., 1969, Nos. 530 and 531, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Lee Voisey Martin.

COUNSEL

Samuel Dashiell, with him Edmund E. De Paul, for appellant.

Benjamin H. Levintow, 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 Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 445 Pa. Page 50]

Appellant raises two issues on these appeals: (1) whether the delay in appellant's not being brought to trial within the 180 days provided in the Agreement on Detainers, Act of September 8, 1959, P. L. 829, 19 P.S. ยง 1431 et seq., operates automatically to divest the court of jurisdiction over this defendant; and (2) whether plea bargaining is a form of request for continuance for good cause shown. We must also decide whether appellant's subsequent plea of guilty was voluntary.*fn*

The pertinent factual background is as follows. Appellant was serving a sentence in the New Jersey prison system when a Pennsylvania warrant issued charging him with murder in connection with the execution-type slaying of one Richard Johnson by five individuals in a secluded area of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.

Appellant filed a request for the disposition of the warrant pursuant to the Agreement on Detainers on July 14, 1969. On July 17, 1969, the Philadelphia prosecuting authorities accepted temporary custody of appellant presumably with a view to proceeding to trial. Appellant received a preliminary hearing on November

[ 445 Pa. Page 5112]

, 1969, and was indicted for murder and conspiracy on December 9, 1969.

Extensive plea bargaining occurred on appellant's behalf. On May 13, 1970, appellant's counsel filed three petitions: a motion to suppress a confession, an application for the appointment of an investigator, and a petition to have bail set. On June 2, 1970, the application for an investigator was granted and the other petitions continued.

On July 15, 1970, appellant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, asserting 180 days had passed since he had requested disposition of his case. A hearing was held on August 13, 1970, and the court, ruling that a continuance had been granted for good cause shown at appellant's request, dismissed the petition on August 17, 1970.

On September 9, 1970, appellant pleaded guilty to murder generally. The Commonwealth certified the case rose no higher than second degree. An extensive on-the-record colloquy occurred. On November 23, 1970, appellant received a sentence of from two to five years in consideration for ...


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