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COMMONWEALTH v. JEFFERSON (10/12/71)

decided: October 12, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JEFFERSON, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Nov. T., 1968, Nos. 1500, 1501 and 1502, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Irving Jefferson.

COUNSEL

Austin J. McGreal, with him John J. McCreesh, III, for appellant.

Edward G. Rendell, 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, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Justice Cohen took no part in the decision of this case.

Author: Eagen

[ 445 Pa. Page 3]

Irving Jefferson was convicted by the same jury of murder in the first degree, aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed deadly weapon. Motions in arrest of the judgments or for a new trial were denied. On the murder conviction, Jefferson was sentenced to life imprisonment as the jury directed, and on the robbery conviction he was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 5 to 20 years. Sentence was not imposed on the conviction for carrying a concealed deadly weapon. From the judgment of sentence on the murder conviction, an appeal [No. 530] was filed in this Court. An appeal from the judgment of sentence on the robbery conviction, and an appeal from the denial of a new trial on the conviction for carrying a concealed deadly weapon were filed in the Superior Court. The last two mentioned appeals were subsequently certified here, designated Nos. 570 and 571. All three appeals will be disposed of in this one opinion.

The prosecution arose from the stabbing and death of William James Calhoun in Philadelphia. Jefferson admitted to the police that he committed the stabbing. The first question presented on appeal is whether constitutional due process was violated at trial by permitting evidentiary use of Jefferson's incriminating statements.*fn1 The pertinent facts may be summarized as follows:

[ 445 Pa. Page 4]

The victim, Calhoun, was stabbed about one p.m., on September 27, 1968, as he entered his automobile which was parked on a public street. The police arrived on the scene shortly after the occurrence and were supplied by an eyewitness with a general description of the felon, and a minute description of the clothing he was wearing. About one-half hour later, Jefferson, fitting the description given, was taken into police custody about three blocks away and a search of his person disclosed a "honing" knife with a six-inch blade concealed in a waist band. He was taken to a district police station and later to a division detective headquarters where he was "booked" on a charge of aggravated robbery. He gave the police a false name and upon being warned of his constitutional rights, in accordance with the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona,*fn2 immediately replied, "Yeah. How many years am I going to get? I ain't got nothing else to say until I see my lawyer." The questioning then ceased, and Jefferson was transferred to a detention center. Subsequently, he was arraigned before a committing magistrate on the robbery charge. At this hearing, he was represented by a member of the Public Defenders' Office who happened to be present in the courtroom at the time.

After the stabbing, the victim, Calhoun, was taken to a hospital and underwent major surgery. The operation was successful and recovery was anticipated. However, unexpected complications developed and he died on October 4th.

A warrant charging Jefferson with murder was served on October 7th and he was immediately taken to the police administration building. He was again fully advised of his "Miranda rights" and when asked if he understood what he had been told, replied, "Yes,

[ 445 Pa. Page 5]

I know what you're talking about" . . . . "Yes, I know all that stuff" . . . . "I understand you are looking for a guy with bushy hair and wearing a long black coat." Whereupon, a photograph was produced and shown to Jefferson of himself which was taken on September 27th and a police officer asked, "Isn't this you?" Jefferson immediately said, "Oh s/--. I f--- up. I might as well tell you what happened." He then proceeded to explain that the stabbing occurred during a struggle which ensued when he attempted to collect a gambling debt from Calhoun. After this oral statement, Jefferson was permitted to talk with his mother over the phone. Shortly thereafter, he was again given all the warnings required by Miranda and was then asked specific questions about the stabbing. These questions and answers were recorded on a typewriter. When this was ...


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