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COMMONWEALTH v. TAYLOR (09/19/73)

decided: September 19, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
TAYLOR, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Dec. T., 1968, Nos. 1594 and 1595, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Walter Taylor.

COUNSEL

H. Robert Fiebach, with him Bernard L. Segal, for appellant.

Maxine J. Stotland, Assistant District Attorney, with her Milton M. Stein, Assistant 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.

Author: Eagen

[ 453 Pa. Page 540]

Walter Taylor was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree and the punishment was fixed at life imprisonment. He was also convicted of aggravated robbery. After the denial of post-trial motions, sentence was imposed on the murder conviction as the jury directed. Sentence was suspended on the robbery conviction. This appeal was then filed. After reviewing the record, we conclude a new trial is necessary because of prejudicial error in the trial judge's instructions to the jury.

The prosecution followed the untimely death of Miss Marjorie Callaghan, a supervisor in the cafeteria of the Reliance Insurance Company, 4 Penn Center, Philadelphia. Miss Callaghan's dead body was found on the morning of July 10, 1968, under a pile of boxes in a

[ 453 Pa. Page 541]

    walk-in refrigerator of the cafeteria. An on-the-site examination followed by an autopsy by the medical examiner of the City of Philadelphia established she had been dead for several hours and death was due to multiple stab wounds and manual strangulation.*fn1 On July 14th, after being warned of his constitutional rights, as mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), Taylor, thirty-six years of age, gave an inculpatory statement to the police detailing the circumstances of Miss Callaghan's death, which was simultaneously recorded on a typewriter and a tape recording machine. In this statement, Taylor admitted stabbing and robbing Miss Callaghan on the late afternoon of July 9th and then hiding her body in the cafeteria's refrigerator. A pretrial motion to suppress the evidence of this statement was denied after an extended evidentiary hearing and this evidence was admitted at trial over objection.

At trial, no attempt was made to deny Taylor committed the crimes or that he made the statement to the police; however, through the testimony of two medical witnesses the defense attempted to convince the jury: (1) Taylor's statement to the police was involuntary; and (2) Taylor was not criminally responsible because of mental and personality deficiencies.

The first such witness, Dr. Robert L. Sadoff, a psychiatrist with experience in forensic psychiatry, testified in material part that he examined Taylor personally in March and April of 1969; that he studied the contents of: (a) Taylor's statement to the police, (b) summaries prepared in 1948 at the Pennsylvania Institute for Defective Delinquents in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, where Taylor was then institutionalized, (c) the

[ 453 Pa. Page 542]

    results of a neurological examination and electroencephalogram test given Taylor in 1969, and (d) the report of Dr. Sheila Scott who administered a series of psychological tests to Taylor in 1969; that on the basis of the information thus gained he concluded that in July 1968, Taylor was a "borderline defective" and ...


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