The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE
Presently before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Petitioner is currently serving a six- to twenty-year sentence imposed by Judge James T. McDermott of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County following a jury trial in which petitioner was found guilty of aggravated robbery and conspiracy. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on a charge of murder.
In his petition, relator claims entitlement to relief on two grounds. Initially, it is argued that the State Court improperly refused to suppress an oral and written confession that was not the product of relator's rational intellect and free will. Relator further contends that the Commonwealth failed to introduce sufficient independent evidence corroborative of the confession before such confession was admitted into evidence.
Relator, through direct appeal, has sufficiently exhausted his available state remedies so as to merit this Court's consideration of his constitutional claims. Pursuant to Rule 46 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure, this habeas corpus matter was originally referred to United States Magistrate Edwin E. Naythons. In a report filed on January 28, 1974, Magistrate Naythons concluded that the prosecution introduced sufficient corroborative evidence independent of the confession and held, accordingly, that relator's claims as to the sufficiency of evidence is completely without merit. With respect to the question of the admission in evidence of relator's oral and written statements, Magistrate Naythons recommended that we hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether relator's confession was in fact a product of his rational intellect and free will, as mandated by Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 83 S. Ct. 745, 9 L. Ed. 2d 770 (1968).
The Court has examined in detail Magistrate Naythons' extensive report and the entire transcripts of both the suppression
hearing and the trial. We are in complete agreement with the Magistrate's conclusions concerning the sufficiency of evidence introduced to support the admissibility of relator's confession and for this reason we believe that further consideration of this issue is unnecessary. However, the Court is unable to concur with the recommendation that an evidentiary hearing be held to determine the propriety of the State Court's refusal to suppress the relator's oral and written admissions of complicity. For reasons enumerated hereinafter, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus will be denied.
The following testimony was adduced at the suppression hearing held before Judge Joseph L. McGlynn of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia County:
Acting upon information that neighborhood gang members were involved in the beating of William Smith, on September 21, 1970, at 2:30 p.m., Detective Kelly of the Philadelphia Police Department, Homicide Division, went to the home of William Hayward, the petitioner herein. After obtaining the consent of his mother, relator was taken by Detective Kelly to the Police Administration Building for questioning. Relator was placed in a 5 ' by 7 ' interrogation room and given his constitutional warnings from a standard police interrogator's card. At this time, relator admitted knowing the victim but otherwise denied any complicity in the robbery or death of the decedent.
Relator was given a lie detector test between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and interviewed again at 8:30 p.m. At the conclusion of the interview, relator began to suffer from the symptoms of narcotics withdrawal and was taken home by the police.
The relator was taken to the Police Administration Building for questioning a second time on September 24, 1970. Relator was placed in the same 5 ' by 7 ' room and again received the Miranda warnings. This time relator claimed that he wanted to tell the truth. He said that he had observed Len and Nelson Johnson (brothers) beat and take money from the decedent. Complicity in the actual robbery, however, was again denied. Hayward was placed in another room at the conclusion of the second interview while the investigating officers discussed his statements concerning the robbery and beating of Mr. Smith. Relator again began going through withdrawal symptoms and, as before, was immediately taken home by the police. On October 3, 1970, at 12:30 a.m., Hayward was taken into custody for the third time for further questioning. As was the case the previous two times, relator was not placed under arrest. The police officers and the relator arrived at the Police Administration Building at 1:10 a.m. At this point, the relator was alert and responsive. He had no complaints and appeared to understand all that transpired around him. The Miranda warnings were administered to him for the third time and at 1:25 a.m. the relator gave an oral statement to the police implicating himself in the crime. Essentially, Hayward stated that around the beginning of September he was walking with Len and Nelson Johnson in the area of 52nd and Market Streets. Relator suggested that the three rob Mr. Smith, who had just been observed walking on 51st Street. He and the Johnson brothers followed the victim. Len Johnson grabbed him from behind while Nelson Johnson went through his pockets and took some money. Nelson pushed Smith against a brick wall and the victim fell down. Relator stated that Len and Nelson then proceeded to kick him about the head. The victim managed to get up and stumble toward his house on 51st Street. The three then purchased three bags of heroin with the money stolen from William Smith. This oral interview ended at 2:40 a.m.
Detective Kelly then took a written statement from the relator from 3:00 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. Before the written statement was taken, the relator was again advised of his constitutional rights. At the conclusion of the statement, the relator first read and then placed his signature on all six pages of the written statement. The relator remained alert and responsive and made no complaints to the police officers.
Relator alleges that the State Court erred in denying his motion to suppress the contents of the above-described oral and written statements in that such statements, constituting an admission of complicity, were not voluntarily and freely made, but were the product of both physical and mental coercion. In support of this argument, relator argues that the occurrence of narcotics withdrawal symptoms after the confession was given conclusively ...