Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Sept. T., 1971, No. 5765, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles McKinney.
John J. Dean and John H. Corbett, Jr., Assistant Public Defenders, and George H. Ross, Public Defender, for appellant.
Robert L. Eberhardt and J. Kent Culley, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen.
On November 16, 1971, the appellant, Charles McKinney, while assisted by self-retained counsel, entered a general plea of guilty to murder in Allegheny County.*fn1
After an extended evidentiary hearing before the Honorable Joseph H. Ridge, McKinney was adjudged guilty of murder in the first degree. Post trial motions were filed and subsequently argued before a court en banc. The motions were denied and McKinney was then sentenced to prison for life. This appeal followed.
During the degree of guilt hearing, the Commonwealth was permitted to introduce into evidence, over objection, a recorded statement given by McKinney to the police. It is contended the court erred in not suppressing this statement*fn2 and that without this evidence the record does not sustain the finding of guilt of murder in the first degree.
Initially, we will summarize the Commonwealth's evidence at the hearing before the trial court.
On July 21, 1971, Shedrick Sutton, sixty-five years of age, was found dead on the floor in a bedroom of his residence in Pittsburgh. The room was in great disarray; the drawers of a dresser were pulled out and articles were scattered over the floor. The side door leading from the outside to the kitchen of the house was ajar and showed evidence "of recent pry marks". A post mortem examination established Sutton's death was caused by multiple fractures of the skull. A toxicology examination proved positive for alcoholic content of .32 percent ethanol.
On the evening of July 16, 1971, the appellant-McKinney borrowed a tire iron from a friend by the name of John Hardaway whose car was parked on the street in the vicinity of the Sutton residence. When asked by Hardaway what he was going to do with the tool, McKinney replied, "I know a man who keep a couple of grand. You don't ...