Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Jan. T., 1970, Nos. 315, 318 and 319, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Curtis Lee Woods.
Gerald P. Ginley, with him Michael J. Stack, Jr., Christian T. Mattie, III, and O'Halloran, Stack & Smith, for appellant.
James Shellenberger, Assistant District Attorney, with him Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Mr. Justice Eagen dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy.
Appellant, Curtis Lee Woods, was indicted for various offenses arising from the murder of Sonia Rosenbaum. On June 26, 1970, appellant appeared before Judge McDevitt and entered pleas of guilty to murder generally, aggravated robbery and conspiracy. After conducting an on-the-record colloquy, as required by Pa. R. Crim. P. 319(a), the trial court accepted appellant's
guilty plea. Pursuant to a request by the prosecutor, the trial court deferred further proceedings until after the trials of appellant's alleged co-conspirators.
On December 27, 1971 -- prior to the degree of guilt hearing and before sentence -- appellant obtained new counsel and filed a petition to withdraw his guilty plea. He asserted in his petition that "[a]t the time these pleas of guilty were entered, [he] was taking the advice of counsel, Herbert G. Hardin, Esq. and was not, in fact, guilty of any of these offenses." A hearing on the petition was held December 30 and 31, 1971 and on March 14, 1972, the court denied appellant's withdrawal petition.
Subsequently, a hearing was held in accordance with Pa. R. Crim. P. 319A to determine whether "the case may constitute murder in the first degree." Having determined that such a case had been established, the court convened a three judge panel which adjudged appellant guilty of first degree murder. On September 26, 1972, appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder bill, ten to twenty years imprisonment on the aggravated robbery charge and one to three years imprisonment on the conspiracy count, all sentences to run concurrently.*fn1
On this direct appeal, appellant contends*fn2 that the trial court erred in denying his plea withdrawal request -- made prior to the degree of guilt hearing and, thus, prior to imposition of sentence. We agree and, therefore, reverse.
In Commonwealth v. Forbes, 450 Pa. 185, 190-91, 299 A.2d 268, 271 (1973), we ...