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COMMONWEALTH v. JEFFRIES (11/26/73)

decided: November 26, 1973.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JEFFRIES, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, April T., 1972, No. 296, affirming judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, March T., 1971, No. 2178, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Howard Jeffries.

COUNSEL

Norman Paul Wolken, with him Wolken & Landy, for appellant.

Louis R. Paulick, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorney, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Mr. Chief Justice Jones took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy.

Author: Eagen

[ 454 Pa. Page 321]

This is an appeal from an order of the Superior Court,*fn1 affirming the judgment of sentence imposed

[ 454 Pa. Page 322]

    upon appellant, Howard Jeffries, following his conviction of possession of narcotic drugs after trial before a judge sitting without a jury. We reverse because of the admission at trial of certain evidence obtained by the police in violation of the Fourth Amendment.*fn2

The record discloses the following pertinent facts.

On the afternoon of November 6, 1970, four police officers in an unmarked police automobile observed Jeffries walking along a public street in Pittsburgh. One officer testified when Jeffries saw the officers, he "quickened his pace". Upon seeing him do so, the officer left the police vehicle and started to pursue Jeffries, who then began to run. While giving chase, the officer observed Jeffries throw a cigarette package under an automobile parked along the street. Shortly thereafter, the officer overtook Jeffries and directed him to stand against a wall. At that moment the other officers arrived on the scene and they were told by the officer, who apprehended Jeffries, to "hold him one minute". The officer then recovered the cigarette package from underneath the parked vehicle, and it was found to contain several foil-wrapped packages of a substance later determined to be heroin.

Jeffries argues the police had no lawful right to chase him and arrest him, and the fruits of the unlawful police activity should have been suppressed. The Commonwealth counterargues the police had probable cause to pursue and arrest Jeffries, or alternatively, his conduct gave them cause to conduct an investigatory stop, thus the evidence was properly admitted since it was not the fruit of illegal activity. Moreover, the Commonwealth argues the evidence was obtained independent of an arrest or search; hence, the legality of the arrest merits no consideration. Given this premise, the

[ 454 Pa. Page 323]

Commonwealth contends the narcotics should be admitted under the doctrine of abandoned property, or ...


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