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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LAWRENCE MURPHY (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
LAWRENCE MURPHY, APPELLEE



COUNSEL

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Bonnie Leadbetter, Philadelphia, for appellant.

John Rogers Carroll, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., filed a concurring opinion. Eagen and O'Brien, JJ., concur in the result. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Jones, C. J., and Roberts, J., join. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Jones, C. J., and Nix, J., join.

Author: Manderino

[ 459 Pa. Page 299]

OPINION

This is an appeal by the prosecution from a pre-trial order which suppressed all statements given to the police by the appellee, Lawrence Murphy, who was awaiting trial for the murder of one William Serepy. The victim's body was found on Woodland Avenue in Philadelphia on September 30, 1972. About four months later, in January of 1973, the appellee walked into a police station. When a police officer asked if he could help the appellee, the appellee replied "I think I killed a man on Woodland Avenue in November. I punched on him." Subsequently, appellee was advised of his constitutional rights and gave additional inculpatory statements to the police. The trial court found that the appellee was suffering from a mental disorder at the time he made the statements and concluded, therefore, that the appellee did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his constitutional rights. All of the appellee's statements were ruled inadmissible at trial.

The prosecution in this appeal challenges only the suppression of the statement made by the appellee when he initially arrived at the police station. Other suppressed statements made subsequent to his initial statement are, thus, not involved in this appeal.

The prosecution argues that the suppression of evidence prior to trial under Rule 323 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, 19 P.S. Appendix, should be limited to evidence obtained in violation of constitutional rights. We agree.

Rule 323(a) provides:

"The defendant or his attorney may make application to the court to suppress any evidence alleged to have

[ 459 Pa. Page 300]

    been obtained in violation of the defendant's ...


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