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COMMONWEALTH v. ALSTON (03/25/74)

decided: March 25, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ALSTON, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Jan. T., 1972, Nos. 1073 and 1074, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Nathan Alston.

COUNSEL

Harry Jackson, for appellant.

Benjamin H. Levintow, 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 Nix.

Author: Nix

[ 456 Pa. Page 129]

Appellant, Nathan Alston, was indicted and charged for the murder of one, Byron Harden. After trial before a jury a verdict of murder of the second degree was entered. Motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment were filed, argued and subsequently denied. A sentence of imprisonment of not less than five nor

[ 456 Pa. Page 130]

    more than twenty years was imposed. This is direct appeal from the judgment of sentence.*fn1

The sole issue before this Court revolves around the suppression court's denial of appellant's motion to suppress his oral and signed written statements given to investigating officers. Appellant now raises two challenges to the statements' admissibility. First, that they were involuntary under the totality of the circumstances. Second, that the standard Miranda warnings are inadequate, in that appellant should have been warned if he elected to remain silent the police would not be permitted to question him further.*fn2

[ 456 Pa. Page 131]

Counsel for appellant at the suppression hearing proceeded on the legal theory that the Commonwealth is required to tell a suspect or an accused if he wishes to remain silent that all questioning will immediately cease. The suppression court ruled as a matter of law to the contrary. Although not contended by the appellant below, the hearing court gratuitously found that the appellant's will was overborne by the continuous questioning. Notwithstanding this finding and without explaining the hearing court denied the motion to suppress. We now affirm the suppression court's order denying the motion to suppress but reject the finding that appellant's will had been overborne.

It is fundamental that a court having found the will of the accused to have been overborne must suppress any admission or confession that results from the interrogation. See, Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. 568 (1961); Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 429 Pa. 141, 239 A.2d 426 (1968); Commonwealth v. Eiland, 450 Pa. 566, 301 A.2d 651 (1973); Commonwealth v. Riggins, 451 Pa. 519, 304 A.2d 473 (1973).

A review of the testimony in this case rejects the suppression court's finding that the custodial interrogation ran ...


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