Appeals from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, March T., 1972, Nos. 64, 65, and 67, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Robert Merritt.
Cecil B. Moore, for appellant.
Vram Nedurian, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, with him Ralph B. D'Iorio, Assistant District Attorney, and Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. (Spaulding, J., absent). Opinion by Cercone, J.
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This case comes on appeal from judgment of sentence on defendant's argument that he was denied his constitutional right to be represented by counsel of his choice. Defendant was found guilty by a jury on two
[ 227 Pa. Super. Page 259]
counts of involuntary manslaughter and fifteen counts of leaving the scene of an accident. Following denial of a motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial, defendant was sentenced to consecutive terms of 1 to 2 years on the involuntary manslaughter indictments and to consecutive terms of 5 1/2 to 11 months on four counts of failure to stop a motor vehicle, for a total sentence of 2 years 5 1/2 months minimum to 4 years 11 months maximum. A brief summary of the history of the case will illuminate the problem.
On December 3, 1971, an automobile struck a group of persons as they were leaving a basketball game at a local high school. Two were fatally injured. When the auto finally stopped, the occupants fled the scene. Defendant was subsequently arrested, charged with involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, and operating a motor vehicle after his license was suspended. A preliminary hearing was held on December 15, 1971, at which defendant was represented by an attorney of his choice, Cecil B. Moore, Esq. of Philadelphia. Defendant was bound over to the Grand Jury which approved Bills of Indictment on March 6, 1972.
On that date, defendant was arraigned, but his counsel, Mr. Moore, was not present at the arraignment. At this time defendant was informed by the court that his trial was being set for April 17, 1972, and that if Mr. Moore failed to appear on that date, the court would appoint a Public Defender to represent him so that the trial could proceed.
When the case was first called for trial on April 17, 1972, the defendant again appeared in court without his counsel, Mr. Moore. No application for a continuance had been made prior to that time.
The case was continued by the court stating that the case would be tried at the next term, but defendant was also informed that ...