Appeal from judgment of Court of Oyer and Terminer of Westmoreland County, July T., 1958, No. 336, in case of Commonwealth v. Pennsylvania v. Elmer Carl Linde.
Bernard S. Shire, with him Shire, Bergstein and Bialon, for appellant.
Henry A. Martin, Assistant District Attorney, with him John N. Scales, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
This is a direct appeal from the judgment of sentence of life imprisonment imposed on Elmer Carl Linde following his conviction by a jury of murder in the first degree.*fn1 We conclude the judgment must be set aside because of the use at trial of evidence which had been obtained by an unlawful search and seizure.
The essential facts are these:
Linde and Ruth Nolan became romantically involved but the relationship ran into stormy days. About 1:30 A.M., on June 13, 1958, after having consumed
a quantity of alcohol and stealing a gun from a neighboring roomer in his rooming house, Linde went to Ruth Nolan's residence and shot her five times. He then shot himself. She died instantly.
When the police arrived on the scene, Linde's transferal to a hospital by ambulance was arranged. The police subsequently sought and located Linde's automobile parked at a service station about 550 yards from the Nolan home. A police officer was dispatched to the hospital, and he obtained the keys to the vehicle from the hospital custodian. When the car was unlocked and searched, the police found a notebook containing five pages of handwritten thoughts. On June 23rd the police presented these writings to Linde in the hospital and, after acknowledging he had written them, he initialed each page. The writings were of a most incriminating nature. One note as being written at 8:30 p.m. on June 12th told of Linde stealing the gun and also of his intention to kill Ruth Nolan. The writings were introduced against Linde at trial.
In Commonwealth v. Shaffer, 447 Pa. 91, 288 A.2d 727 (1972), we surveyed the principles of law controlling warrantless searches of vehicles*fn2 and stated: "It is now fundamental that if the property involved is the fruit of an unlawful search, the ...