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COMMONWEALTH v. BEECHAM (01/19/73)

decided: January 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BEECHAM, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1970, No. 613, affirming the order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, June T., 1953, No. 364, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William McKinley Beecham.

COUNSEL

David E. Auerbach, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Vram Nedurian, Jr. and Ralph B. D'Iorio, Assistant District Attorneys, and Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 450 Pa. Page 198]

Appellant, William McKinley Beecham, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and larceny on June 2, 1953. He was sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than twenty years. No appeal was taken.*fn1

On December 15, 1966, appellant filed a pro se petition pursuant to the Post Conviction Hearing Act [PCHA], Act of January 25, 1966, P. L. (1965) 1580, §§ 1 et seq., 19 P.S. §§ 1180-1 et seq. (Supp. 1972), alleging, inter alia, that his 1953 guilty plea was involuntary. Following appointment of counsel, the trial court dismissed the petition without a hearing.*fn2 That court

[ 450 Pa. Page 199]

    held that the record "completely refutes this allegation" and, thus, the petition is "utterly without merit." This decision on the merits was affirmed by the Superior Court. Commonwealth v. Beecham, 211 Pa. Superior Ct. 707, 234 A.2d 224 (1967). Allocatur was denied on February 16, 1968.*fn3

On February 25, 1970, appellant filed a second PCHA petition challenging the voluntariness of his 1953 plea. The petition was denied without a hearing and the denial was affirmed by the Superior Court. Commonwealth v. Beecham, 217 Pa. Superior Ct. 744, 268 A.2d 239 (1970). We granted allocatur and now affirm.

Appellant's principal claim in his second 1970 PCHA petition is that his guilty plea was involuntarily entered.*fn4 The trial court, in dismissing this petition, properly held that the voluntariness of the plea had been "finally litigated," within the meaning of Section 4 of the PCHA, by virtue of the disposition of the first, counseled, 1966 PCHA petition.

Section 4 of the PCHA provides: "(a) For the purpose of this act, an issue is ...


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