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COMMONWEALTH v. DAVIS (03/25/74)

SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: March 25, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
DAVIS, APPELLANT

Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, June T., 1964, No. 599, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Davis.

COUNSEL

A. Richard Gerber, with him Thomas E. Waters, Jr., and Gerber, Davenport & Wilenzik, for appellant.

J. David Bean, Assistant District Attorney, with him Stewart J. Greenleaf, Assistant District Attorney, William T. Nicholas, First Assistant District Attorney, and Milton O. Moss, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 455 Pa. Page 597]

William Davis was found guilty of murder in the second degree for the 1964 stabbing death of Robert Cross. At the time of the murder both Cross and Davis were inmates at the Eastern State Correctional Institution at Graterford.

Following return of the jury's verdict on January 6, 1965, appellant was unable to appear for sentencing because he had been transferred to Farview State Hospital. There his condition was described as "chronic brain syndrome of unknown cause with psychotic reaction." In 1972 it was decided that appellant had recovered sufficiently to permit sentencing. He was sentenced on November 6, 1972, to serve a term of five to fifteen years imprisonment. The sentence was to commence upon his parole or the completion of his original sentence. This direct appeal followed.*fn1 On June 8, 1973, appellant was again transferred to Farview for evaluation and on July 13, 1973, was recommitted for an indefinite term.

Davis contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict. He argues that post-trial events indicate his entitlement to a Writ of Error Coram Nobis. We need not, however, presently address these questions.

[ 455 Pa. Page 598]

Considering the timing of appellant's transfer to Farview and his detention there for seven and one-half years prior to sentencing, a serious question, incapable of resolution on the present record, arises whether he was competent to stand trial.*fn2 Sometime between his conviction in January 1965 and his scheduled sentencing in October 1965 appellant was declared incompetent in what the sentencing judge described as "some collateral proceedings." Although it is not clear exactly when appellant was declared incompetent, we cannot on this inadequate record pass on his claim of incompetency at the time of trial.*fn3 We must therefore remand for an evidentiary hearing and compilation of a supplemental record.

We direct that the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether appellant was competent to stand trial

[ 455 Pa. Page 599]

    in June 1965 and file its determination with this Court. We will retain jurisdiction of this appeal pending adjudication of appellant's competence. Following the competency determination, the parties may, if they so desire, have thirty days in which to file supplemental briefs in this Court.

Case remanded for proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

Disposition

Case remanded.


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