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COMMONWEALTH v. JACKSON (01/19/73)

decided: January 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JACKSON, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Nov. T., 1971, No. 15, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Bernard Jackson.

COUNSEL

John Edward Sheridan, for appellant.

Robyn Greene, Assistant District Attorney, with her Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 450 Pa. Page 418]

Appellant, Bernard Jackson, was indicted for the murder of Charles Davis and, on February 25, 1972, entered a plea of guilty. Following certification by the Commonwealth that the charge rose no higher than voluntary manslaughter, an on-the-record colloquy was conducted, as required by Pa. R. Crim. P. 319. Having concluded "after inquiry of [appellant] that the plea [was] voluntarily and understandingly made",*fn1 the trial court accepted appellant's plea and found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Appellant was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 7 years imprisonment. This direct appeal followed.

[ 450 Pa. Page 419]

Appellant's principal contention*fn2 is that the trial court erred in accepting his guilty plea because certain evidence, presented by stipulation, indicated a possibility of accidental homicide or self-defense, rather than voluntary manslaughter. Specifically, appellant urges that his statement to the police included in the stipulation, suggests that he unintentionally fired the weapon. Review of the colloquy, however, satisfies us that the trial judge properly determined that appellant pleaded guilty with an understanding of the nature of the charge and how his acts constituted the offense with which he was charged.*fn3 We affirm.

The trial court conducted an extensive colloquy*fn4 in order to assure itself that there was a factual basis for

[ 450 Pa. Page 420]

    the plea. The following inquiry, by the court, appears on the record.

"Q. In this case, you would be admitting, by entering a plea of guilty to voluntary manslaughter, that on April 25, 1970, in Philadelphia, you unlawfully and deliberately and wilfully killed Charles Davis. In this case, you would be admitting, as I understand the evidence from having conferred with the District Attorney and your attorney together, you would be admitting that you shot Charles Davis, which caused his death. Now, your plea of guilty to voluntary manslaughter would be an admission that you shot him deliberately and intentionally. Do you understand that? A. Yes, sir. Q. By pleading guilty to this charge, you would be admitting that the shooting and death were not accidental. You would also be admitting that the shooting and death were not done in the course of you defending yourself from serious bodily harm or a threat of death against yourself by Charles Davis. Do you understand? A. Yes, sir. Q. By pleading guilty you are giving up both those defenses, the defense of saying the killing was accidental and the defense of saying you were acting to protect yourself from serious bodily harm or death. Do you understand that? A. Yes. Q. By pleading guilty to the crime of voluntary manslaughter you are admitting that you deliberately and wilfully shot Charles Davis, knowing that the shooting could cause serious bodily harm or death. The element that reduces the crime from murder ...


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