Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, Jan. T., 1966, No. 27, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. James Alan Romberger.
Carl B. Stoner, Jr., with him Prowell, Stoner & Kusic, for appellant.
Marion E. MacIntyre, Deputy District Attorney, with him LeRoy S. Zimmerman, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Nix.
This is a direct appeal from a conviction for first degree murder and a sentence of death imposed in accordance with the verdict of the jury. Appellant challenges the admissibility of statements made by him to investigating officers, allegedly taken without a previous warning of his right if indigent to the presence of counsel free of charge during the interrogation, as required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). We agree and reverse the conviction.*fn1
The record shows that on November 4, 1965, the Harrisburg City Police received a missing person report concerning Joy Blanche Keifer, a resident of that city. The appellant had been on a date with Miss Keifer the previous evening and was the last person known to have seen her. On November 5, a Detective Barbush of the city police interviewed the appellant at the school which
employed his mother and appellant maintained that he had left Miss Keifer in front of her apartment early on the morning of November 4. He expressed a desire to aid the investigation to discover her whereabouts.
The next morning, November 6, the body of Joy Keifer was discovered in Wildwood Lake, near Harrisburg. At about 12:30 p.m. that afternoon, Detective Barbush, accompanied by two Pennsylvania State Troopers, went to appellant's residence. They advised him that he had a right to obtain counsel and to have counsel present and that he did not have to make any statements, as such statements could later be used against him. They requested appellant to follow them to City Hall in his car, and appellant did so, accompanied by one of the State Troopers. They arrived at City Hall about 1:10 p.m. and, after brief interviews at which appellant was again given the warnings noted above, it was determined that he should take a polygraph test. At 2:35 p.m., the appellant accompanied by two city detectives and two State Troopers, went to the State Police office in Harrisburg so that a State Police polygraph expert, Lieutenant Murray, could administer that test.
Appellant was interviewed by Lieutenant Murray until 5:30 p.m. During that time, the Lieutenant explained the operation of the polygraph and told the appellant that he should get his facts straight before answering the questions because the machine would detect any falsehood. In response to these admonitions, appellant altered his story four times, each time admitting more and more of the facts leading up to the murder, yet never actually admitting to the commission of the homicide.
At 5:30 p.m., appellant ordered and was provided with sandwiches which he ate until about 6:00 p.m. The interview was resumed and appellant was given substantially the same warnings mentioned earlier. A ...