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COMMONWEALTH v. BARTLETT (03/20/72)

decided: March 20, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BARTLETT, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Feb. T., 1970, No. 267, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Clifford Bartlett.

COUNSEL

Parke H. Ulrich, with him Fox, Differ, Mazer & Callahan, for appellant.

Paul W. Tressler, Assistant District Attorney, with him Stewart J. Greenleaf, Assistant District Attorney, William T. Nicholas, First Assistant District Attorney, and Milton O. Moss, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts and Pomeroy, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Former Mr. Chief Justice Bell and former Mr. Justice Barbieri took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Jones

[ 446 Pa. Page 394]

Appellant was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Montgomery County, by a jury of first degree murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Post trial motions were denied and the appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder conviction.*fn1 This appeal followed.

Appellant's initial argument is that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the appellant's written statement and subsequent oral admissions, which were allegedly obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436.*fn2 The record reveals the following pertinent facts which give rise to this contention.

On January 14, 1970, the body of Milton Hawkins was found lying in a roadway in Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County. The decedent had been stabbed some forty-five times in the chest and stomach and police investigation revealed the murder weapon to be

[ 446 Pa. Page 395]

    a hunting knife which was found in the same vicinity as the body. After establishing the victim's identity, the police questioned his family and neighbors, who informed them that the victim was last seen alive in the company of the appellant and another male. The three men had left the Hawkins residence on the night of the murder in a red Mustang.

Acting on this information, Montgomery County and Philadelphia detectives went to appellant's home in Philadelphia to question him. They were admitted to the house by the appellant who identified himself as his brother Charles Bartlett. Thus misled, the detectives questioned the appellant as to his "brother's" location. The questioning also involved the appellant's girl friend, Sharon Kitt, who was also present at that time. As the police left the house, they noticed a red Mustang parked out front and they decided to observe it from their vehicle. A short time later, appellant entered a blue Mustang and drove away. He was followed by Sharon Kitt, who drove the red Mustang. The police followed both cars, stopped Miss Kitt at the first traffic signal and asked her to produce the registration for the car. When she could not, the police informed her that she would have to accompany them to the police administration building until the registration could be verified. Meanwhile appellant, who had not been stopped, parked his car and walked over to the officers in an attempt to "straighten things out". When he could not produce identification for either the red Mustang or the car which he was driving, he, too, was taken to the police administration building. When they arrived, appellant and Miss Kitt were separately questioned about the ownership of the cars and the whereabouts of William Bartlett.

The police testified at trial that at this point they began to have some doubts as to ...


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