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COMMONWEALTH v. HANNAN (09/23/74)

decided: September 23, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
HANNAN, ET UX., APPELLANTS



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, May T., 1970, No. 4097, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Harold Hannan and Helen Hannan.

COUNSEL

Herbert G. Labbie, with him Morris Cohen, for appellants.

Robert L. Eberhardt, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert L. Campbell and Carol Mary Los, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Hoffman

[ 229 Pa. Super. Page 541]

Appellants contend that the evidence produced by the Commonwealth was insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that they were illegally in possession of dangerous and narcotic drugs.

In order to understand the legal significance of the location of the drugs seized in the raid upon the appellants' home, and in order to provide the factual framework from which the evidence introduced at trial was purportedly linked to the appellants, it is necessary to give a somewhat detailed description of the house, its physical layout, and its occupants on the date in question and for a period immediately preceding the search.

The subject of the search was the seven-bedroom white double brick house belonging to the Hannans. The residence was located at 3703 Penn Avenue in the Lawrenceville Section of Pittsburgh. The house consisted of three floors, including a converted attic. On

[ 229 Pa. Super. Page 542]

    the first floor, there was a kitchen, a laundry room, a den with a powder room, a dining room, and two converted bedrooms off the dining room. On the second floor, there was a master bedroom with a powder room, a common bathroom in the hallway, and three other bedrooms of varying size. The third-floor consisted of a small apartment, including a bedroom, without a bath.

It was admitted at trial that prior to 1967 (the year in which appellants' son suffered traumatic injury to his leg resulting in partial amputation of his foot), the entire Hannan family resided on the second floor of the residence. After 1967, the Hannans made certain alterations, converting the attic to a third-floor small apartment, including a bedroom, and converting two first-floor rooms to bedrooms. The Hannans' son lived in one of the bedrooms and the Hannans, allegedly for reasons of remaining near their injured son, testified that they moved their living quarters to the second first-floor bedroom. The entire second floor was used for rental and visiting purposes. Uncontradicted evidence was produced at trial showing that during a period from 1967 to May, 1969, as many as six nurses and physical therapists engaged in study at the nearby St. Francis Hospital had rented rooms and had lived on the second floor. On the day in question, the following persons were either living in or staying at the Hannan home: the Hannans and their son stayed in the two bedrooms on the first floor; their daughter and a niece, Deborah Love, occupied the third-floor apartment; a nurse, home for Christmas vacation, was renting one of the bedrooms on the second floor; and two friends of the appellants' children, Terrence Sullivan and Sandy Anderson, were staying in two of the other bedrooms of the second floor; two of Mrs. Hannan's sisters, visiting from Florida, were staying for a few days in the room rented by the absent nurse. The master bedroom, it was alleged, was unoccupied.

[ 229 Pa. Super. Page 543]

In addition to those residing or staying at the house on the date of the drug raid, a number of defense witnesses testified that they had attended a Christmas party at which some ...


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