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COMMONWEALTH v. MATHIS (04/03/74)

decided: April 3, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MATHIS, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, July T., 1972, Nos. 888 and 894, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Mathis.

COUNSEL

John W. Packel, Assistant Defender, with him Vincent J. Ziccardi, Defender, for appellant.

James Garrett, Assistant District Attorney, with him David Richman and James T. Ranney, Assistant District Attorneys, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. (Spaulding, J., absent). Opinion by Hoffman, J.

Author: Hoffman

[ 227 Pa. Super. Page 465]

Appellant was indicted for aggravated robbery, burglary, and a violation of the Uniform Firearms Act. In December of 1972, he was tried before the Honorable Theodore B. Smith, Jr., and a jury and found guilty on all indictments. Post-trial motions were denied on April 9, 1973, and, on the same day, sentences were imposed.

On May 24, 1972, at approximately 9:30 a.m., an armed robbery occurred at a check cashing establishment in Philadelphia. Five minutes after the robbers fled with a brown paper bag containing cash and rolls of coins the police arrived and obtained a description of the robbers from the victim. A bystander told the police that he had seen two Negro males in the area, one of whom was carrying a torn brown paper bag from which several rolls of coins were falling. The witness stated that he saw the two men enter a residence on a nearby street.

The police proceeded to the location and obtained permission from the owners to search the premises. The

[ 227 Pa. Super. Page 466]

    officers found appellant and a co-defendant hiding in a coal bin in the basement. Appellant was arrested and taken to a police station where he was placed in an interrogation room shortly after 10:00 a.m., where he remained alone until 3:35 p.m. During this period, police investigators went to the residence and conducted a full search. They discovered a brown paper bag containing approximately $5,000.00 in cash and coins, several revolvers, ammunition, and clothing described as worn by one of the robbers. Detectives interviewed the owners of the premises who stated that appellant had been there in the morning, left for a short period of time and returned with a brown bag shortly before the police arrived. The owners denied that any of the articles found on the premises belonged to them or any member of their family.

At approximately 3:35 p.m., the detectives returned to the station and began interviewing appellant. He was given complete Miranda warnings and acknowledged a full understanding of his rights. A detective testified, and the court below found, that appellant told the officers that he did not wish to remain silent or speak to a lawyer. Immediately after the questioning began, appellant gave a detailed account of his participation in the robbery. Between 4:50 and 5:40 p.m. appellant was given a meal and permitted to use the bathroom, after which questioning resumed for 25 minutes.

Appellant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the statement given to the police, on the grounds that he was illegally arrested and that he did not validly waive his rights to assistance of counsel and to remain silent prior to being questioned by the police. ...


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