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COMMONWEALTH v. JENKINS (11/30/72)

decided: November 30, 1972.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JENKINS, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Feb. T., 1970, No. 999, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Marshall W. Jenkins, Jr.

COUNSEL

Sallie Ann Radick and John J. Dean, Assistant Public Defenders, and George H. Ross, Public Defender, for appellant.

Carol Mary Los, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: O'brien

[ 449 Pa. Page 399]

On July 27, 1969, Karen Wolf was strangled in her apartment in Pittsburgh. She was found nude upon her bed, covered with a blanket, with a stocking around her neck. Also noted were a series of cigarette burns upon the victim's breasts.

Appellant, Marshall W. Jenkins, Jr., was arrested at his parents' home on January 2, 1970, and charged with Karen Wolf's murder. At appellant's trial, the Commonwealth produced several witnesses to show how the victim's body was found; two witnesses, one appellant's fiancee, who testified that appellant had admitted the killing; and a Pittsburgh Police fingerprint expert, who testified that dusting of Miss Wolf's apartment

[ 449 Pa. Page 400]

    uncovered only one fingerprint, later identified as appellant's.

Midway through the trial, appellant, who had previously admitted being in the girl's apartment on the day of the crime and wiping out fingerprints, but had denied any memory as to whether he had killed her, informed the court that he wished to change his plea to guilty. After conducting an on-the-record examination to determine if appellant's decision was a knowing and intelligent act, the court accepted the plea. The court later determined that appellant was guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced him to a term of ten to twenty years' imprisonment. No appeal was taken.

On September 21, 1971, appellant filed a Post Conviction Hearing Act petition, alleging that his plea was not knowingly and intelligently entered. The dismissal of that petition, after a hearing, is the subject of this appeal.

Appellant contends that his decision to plead guilty was not knowing because he was not told of the elements involved in the various degrees of homicide or that his plea constituted an admission that he had killed with malice, making the crime one of second-degree murder, unless he could show the presence of mitigating circumstances which would negate the presence of malice. According to appellant's argument, if he had been informed of the elements of manslaughter, he would have chosen to proceed with the jury trial and hope for a verdict of voluntary manslaughter.

The court conducted an extensive inquiry, including the following: "The Court: Are you aware of the fact that if you enter a plea of guilty generally to this indictment, that it will then become the responsibility of the Court and the Court alone to determine whether or not: 1, you are guilty of murder in ...


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