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COMMONWEALTH v. DAVIS (01/24/74)

decided: January 24, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DAVIS, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Feb. T., 1970, Nos. 495, 496 and 497, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Frederick Davis.

COUNSEL

John F. X. Fenerty and Charleston & Fenerty, P. C., for appellant.

James J. Wilson and Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorneys, 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. Mr. Justice Roberts, Mr. Justice Nix, and Mr. Justice Manderino concur in the result.

Author: Eagen

[ 455 Pa. Page 143]

Frederick Davis was convicted by a jury of murder in the second degree and of conspiracy. After post-trial motions were denied, a prison sentence of five to fifteen years was imposed on the murder conviction. Davis filed this appeal.

The Commonwealth's testimony at trial which was uncontradicted*fn1 established the following facts:

About 10 p.m. on December 29, 1969, Davis and six other youths attacked one Edward Paul Sweeney as he walked along Erie Avenue in Philadelphia.*fn2 During

[ 455 Pa. Page 144]

    the attack, Sweeney was knocked to the ground and suffered six knife wounds; two of which penetrated his left lung. Two of the knife wounds were inflicted by Davis personally. Sweeney died from the wounds shortly after the attack.

At trial evidence of two oral statements Davis made to the police, wherein he admitted stabbing Sweeney, was introduced against him.*fn3 It is now contended the admission of this evidence violated due process because: (1) "the circumstances surrounding appellant's arrest were beyond the scope of acceptable constitutional standards, thereby rendering same illegal and all fruits secured thereafter, inadmissible"; and (2) since "the oral statements were made by the appellant, a minor, in the absence of counsel or without the benefit of parental guidance he could not make a knowing and intelligent waiver of his constitutional rights."

The contention that "the circumstances surrounding appellant's arrest were beyond the scope of acceptable constitutional standards," and, hence, illegal is based solely on the fact Davis was not advised of his " Miranda " rights at the time he was taken into police custody.*fn4

The warnings mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602 (1966), were established in order "to secure the privilege against self-incrimination." 384 U.S. at 444, 86 S. Ct. at 1612. There is no requirement that these warnings be given at the moment of the arrest. What is required is that they be given before any police ...


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