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decided: November 17, 1972.


Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, No. 100 of 1968, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Mary Mamon.


Edward C. Connolly, for appellant.

Stephen B. Harris, First Assistant District Attorney, with him Kenneth Biehn, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien. Mr. Justice Pomeroy and Mr. Justice Manderino concur in the result.

Author: O'brien

[ 449 Pa. Page 250]

On March 23, 1967, Lorraine Mullery was murdered at approximately 8:30 a.m. at her home on Peony Lane in Levittown, Bucks County. On that morning the victim's husband, oldest son and daughter, Patty, left

[ 449 Pa. Page 251]

    the home at approximately 7:30 a.m. Some ten minutes later, the appellant, Mary Mamon, was seen walking into the garage of the Mullery home in a man's disguise. Within approximately five minutes, Ethel Markham, whose niece had recently broken off an engagement to marry Robert Mamon, appellant's son, received a telephone call inviting her to the Mullery home, four doors away from where she lived. Approximately twenty-five minutes later Ethel Markham went to the Mullery home, but no one answered her knock. When she returned home, Ethel reported this to her daughter, Nancy, and almost immediately Nancy went to the Mullery home.

Nancy Markham testified at trial that as she approached the door, it opened, she entered and behind the door was a person she first thought to be a man. After she walked in, a voice behind her said, "Ethel, I have you now." Then Nancy turned around and a person who appeared to be a man said, "Carol". Nancy answered, "My name's not Carol, my name's Nancy". Nancy had known Mary Mamon, as they had played games together in the Markham's home on many occasions, and she quickly recognized this "man" to be Mary Mamon. Nancy testified that she then saw a hammer in Mary's hand and that Mary began to chase her around the house. She chased Nancy into the upstairs, where Nancy tried to get out a window. As Mary came up the stairs, she said, "Now, Nancy, I have you." However, Nancy managed to escape and ran downstairs. During the chase, she saw Patty's brother, Donald, in an upstairs bedroom, and his mother in a downstairs bedroom lying on the floor in pools of blood. Appellant trapped Nancy in the hallway on the first floor. Nancy remembered being hit with the first blow of the hammer in the back of the head, and then she became dizzy and passed out.

[ 449 Pa. Page 252]

Between 8:55 and 9:00 a.m., Patty Mullery returned and found Nancy Markham lying on the floor between the downstairs bedrooms with severe head injuries. The police were summoned and they, in turn, found Lorraine Mullery lying dead on her bedroom floor and Donald Mullery in a second floor bedroom suffering from severe head wounds.

The Commonwealth's theory on the events of March 23, 1967, was that the Mullery house had been used as a deathtrap in which to lure Ethel Markham, whom appellant blamed for the breakup of her son's engagement, as Ethel testified she would not have allowed appellant in her home if, in fact, appellant had gone directly there. According to this theory, Lorraine Mullery, Donald Mullery and Nancy Markham were merely victims of circumstance.

After a jury trial, appellant was found guilty of murder in the first degree and the jury fixed sentence at life imprisonment. After denial of her post-trial motions and imposition of the judgment of sentence, she filed this appeal.

Appellant's principal allegations of error concern evidence seized as the result of what she contends were two unconstitutional searches.

The first search, which occurred on March 24, 1967, occurred after appellant had signed a consent form, which reads as follows:

"I, Mary S. Mamon, having been informed of my constitutional rights to have a search made of the premises hereinafter mentioned without a search warrant and of my right to refuse to consent to a search, hereby authorize Richard Batezel, Charles Shaw, James Dunn, other police officers of the Township of Bristol and County of Bucks in the State of Pennsylvania to conduct a complete search of my residence and '62 Olds F85 and '64 red Chevelle -- located at 71 Queensbridge Road, Levittown, Middletown Township, Bucks County,

[ 449 Pa. Page 253]

Pennsylvania. These officers are authorized by me to take from my residence and vehicles any letters, typewriters, papers, materials, clothing, all kinds of footwear, or other property which they may desire from the said residence and attached garage and said vehicles.

"This written permission is being given by me to the above-mentioned officers voluntarily and without threats or promises of any kind." (Emphasis supplied.)

Appellant contends that this consent should be held to be invalid because it was unlawfully coerced. In arguing that appellant's consent was voluntarily given, the Commonwealth emphasizes the events which ...

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