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COMMONWEALTH v. SCOGGINS (05/04/73)

decided: May 4, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SCOGGINS, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Dec. T., 1969, Nos. 55 to 58, inclusive, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. David E. Scoggins.

COUNSEL

David E. Auerbach, Assistant Public Defender, with him Eckell, Sparks, Vadino, Auerbach & Monte, for appellant.

Ralph B. D'Iorio, Assistant District Attorney, with him Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Eagen

[ 451 Pa. Page 474]

The appellant, David E. Scoggins, was convicted by a jury in Delaware County of murder in the first degree, and the punishment was fixed at death. After the denial of post-trial motions sentence was imposed as the jury directed. In the same trial, Scoggins was also convicted of: (a) assault with intent to ravish; and (b) indecent assault. On the first such conviction, Scoggins was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of seven and one-half to fifteen years. These appeals are from the foregoing judgments of sentence.*fn1

That the evidence was sufficient to sustain both convictions is beyond question. From the evidence, the jury was warranted in finding that on August 9, 1969, while in the course of forcibly attempting to have sexual intercourse with Anna Nancy Fields, age twenty-one years, Scoggins repeatedly struck her with his fists on

[ 451 Pa. Page 475]

    the head causing brain damage which resulted in almost instantaneous death, and that he then threw her lifeless nude body into a nearby creek.

Several assignments of error in the prosecution process are asserted, but none have merit.

It is first asserted the trial court erred in refusing to suppress evidence of two incriminating statements given by appellant to the police after his arrest. The pertinent facts, as disclosed by the record, may be briefly summarized thusly.

Appellant was arrested on August 24, 1969, in Charleston, West Virginia, by an F.B.I. agent accompanied by detectives from Delaware County, on a federal warrant charging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. The federal agent immediately read to appellant his constitutional rights as mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966). One of the Delaware County detectives then repeated the same warnings. Thereafter, the group proceeded to the Charleston Federal Building for booking on the federal charge and some other administrative procedures. When this was completed, the appellant spontaneously and without questioning by the officers began to relate the circumstances incident to Miss Field's death. One of the Delaware County officers immediately interrupted him and again warned the appellant of his constitutional rights. Nonetheless, the appellant continued to give his version of the fatal occurrence.

The following day, the appellant waived extradition and was returned to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, arriving about midnight. He was placed in the Delaware County Prison overnight, and at 12 p.m. on August 26, 1969, the appellant was taken to the office of the Chief of Police of Media where he was again immediately warned of his constitutional rights. Without hesitation the appellant gave the officers a statement

[ 451 Pa. Page 476]

    which was stenographically recorded. At 2 p.m., he was ...


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