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COMMONWEALTH v. LAWSON ET AL. (09/21/73)

decided: September 21, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
LAWSON ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeal from order of Superior Court, April T., 1971, No. 324, affirming judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Dec. T., 1969, No. 95, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Aldon Lawson and Demetrius Lawson.

COUNSEL

Sallie Ann Radick and John J. Dean, Assistant Public Defenders, and George H. Ross, Public Defender, for appellants.

Carol Mary Los and Robert L. Eberhardt, 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 Manderino. Mr. Chief Justice Jones, Mr. Justice Eagen and Mr. Justice Pomeroy concur in the result.

Author: Manderino

[ 454 Pa. Page 24]

Appellants, Aldon Lawson and Demetrius Lawson, are husband and wife, who were convicted after separate non-jury trials of the same three offenses -- possession

[ 454 Pa. Page 25]

    of narcotic drugs, dealing in narcotic drugs, and conspiracy to commit an unlawful act. Aldon Lawson received a sentence of five to twenty years for dealing in narcotic drugs, a concurrent sentence of two to five years for possession of narcotic drugs, and a suspended sentence for the conspiracy. Demetrius Lawson received a sentence of two to five years for possession of narcotic drugs, and suspended sentences for dealing in narcotic drugs and the conspiracy. Post-trial motions were denied and the Superior Court affirmed the judgments of sentence. These appeals were allowed in which we also affirm the judgments of sentence.

Police officers, who were located in an abandoned building approximately thirty feet away, observed the appellants standing on the street in front of a bar. The observation began about 11:50 p.m. The area was lit from a streetlight about ten feet away from the appellants. Binoculars were used for the observation. At least one officer used high powered day and night binoculars. The officers observed three separate transactions taking place. During each transaction, the officers observed a third person approach and hand over paper money to the husband, Aldon Lawson. The husband would then walk over to his wife, who was standing several feet away. She would remove from her bosom something that looked like a dark sack. From the sack a small item was then taken and given to the husband. The wife would return the dark sack to her bosom and the husband would return to the person who had given him the money and hand over the item removed from the sack. The person receiving the item would leave the scene immediately. The husband put the money he had received in his pocket.

After the third transaction, the observing officers, using a two-way radio, informed other officers who were in an unmarked car near the scene, of their observations. The officers in the car immediately drove to

[ 454 Pa. Page 26]

    the scene. When the appellants saw the car pull up, they quickly headed into the bar. The wife entered first. The husband entered the bar and stood in the doorway, blocking the entrance. One officer went by the husband and arrested the wife, who was heading towards the ladies' room. Another officer arrested the husband.

At the police station, when the appellant wife was about to be searched, she handed over a large blue balloon which she had taken from her bosom. Inside the balloon was a plastic bag and inside the plastic bag were ten capsules of white powder later identified as heroin. No narcotics were ...


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