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COMMONWEALTH v. DANIELS (03/16/73)

decided: March 16, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DANIELS, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, March T., 1971, Nos. 820 and 821, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joseph Daniels.

COUNSEL

Albert Bartolomeo, for appellant.

Romer Holleran and Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorneys, 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 Eagen. Mr. Justice Roberts and Mr. Justice Nix concur in the result. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Chief Justice Jones joins in this concurring and dissenting opinion. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Manderino.

Author: Eagen

[ 451 Pa. Page 166]

Joseph Daniels, the appellant, was convicted in a non-jury trial of two charges of voluntary manslaughter. Post-trial motions were denied and prison sentences of one and one-half to seven years, to run consecutively, were imposed on each conviction. These appeals followed.

The prosecution stemmed from the stabbing of Perry Kellam and Dempsey Williams shortly before midnight on January 23, 1971, in the hallway of an apartment house in which Daniels resided in Philadelphia. After the occurrence Daniels went outside, flagged down a passing police vehicle, led the police to where Kellam and Wilson both lay prostrate, admitted he stabbed them and produced the knife he used in the attack. Upon being taken to a hospital, Kellam was immediately pronounced dead. Wilson died from his wounds on February 4th.

Daniels asserts two assignments of error. He urges the trial evidence fails to support the convictions, and hence, the trial court erred in not sustaining a motion to arrest the judgments, or, even if the contrary is true, a new trial should have been awarded because of the evidentiary use at trial of a recorded incriminating statement he made to the police in the absence of a knowing and intelligent waiver of his constitutional rights. We shall discuss the last mentioned assignment of error first.

A pretrial motion to suppress the challenged statement was denied after an evidentiary hearing. The uncontradicted testimony of the Commonwealth at this hearing*fn1 may be sumarized as follows:

On February 8, 1971, about 8:15 a.m., Daniels was informed by a police detective that both Kellam and

[ 451 Pa. Page 167]

Wilson were dead; he was then warned of his rights in accordance with the mandate of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), and asked if he wished to make a statement; Daniels responsively indicated he understood what he was told and said he was willing to make a statement without the assistance of counsel; he then proceeded to give his version of the stabbing occurrence which was recorded on both a typewriter and a tape recorder; during the interview Daniels was alert and responsive, but said he dropped out of school in the fourth grade and could not read or write; after the typewritten statement was completed, it was read verbatim to Daniels who then signed his name on each of its seven pages.

Daniels did not testify at the suppression hearing,*fn2 but his counsel introduced a Psychiatric Evaluation Summary prepared by the Psychiatric Division of the court's Probation Department. This report stated, in part, that Daniels appeared to have "some schizoid qualities" and "has an I.Q. [73] functioning in the defective mild range of intelligence." This Evaluation Summary also stated the following:

"With regard to his [Daniels'] ability to stand trial . . ., he can understand his present surroundings, he knows what the interview procedure is about and he knows the roles of the people talking with him. He knows the police version of the charges against him, he has an understanding of the possible verdicts for the offense and the possible penalties for the offense. He understands his legal rights and would understand any plea he might make.

[ 451 Pa. Page 168]

"This man was spontaneous, coherent and relevant throughout the interview. He was oriented to time, place and person and his remote and recent memory were intact. There was no evidence of hallucinations or delusions. His affect [sic] is appropriate to the situation and he abstracts well clinically, although for the formal test do not show this. His judgment in social ...


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