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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT LEE ROWE (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT LEE ROWE, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Roy H. Davis, Drexel Hill, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Division, Bonnie Leadbetter, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Nix, JJ. Manderino, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Eagen, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Roberts

[ 459 Pa. Page 165]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Prior to trial, appellant filed a timely motion to suppress oral and written statements obtained from him by the police.*fn1 After a hearing, his motion was denied and his statements were introduced over objection at trial. A jury found appellant guilty of murder in the first degree, conspiracy, and two counts of aggravated robbery. Post-trial motions were denied and sentence imposed. On this direct appeal*fn2 from his conviction of murder in the first degree*fn3 and sentence of life imprisonment, appellant contends that his statements were erroneously admitted at trial and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction. We disagree and affirm.

[ 459 Pa. Page 166]

At approximately 1:00 a. m. on December 23, 1972, three armed men entered a Philadelphia tavern, announced a robbery, and began to collect wallets from those present. A scuffle ensued when one patron resisted. One man was killed, others wounded, and a robber shot in the shoulder. The robbers fled, dragging their wounded member with them, and jumped into a nearby automobile. Even before its doors were fully closed, the automobile sped away.

When the robbery-murder was reported, the police began contacting local hospitals to ascertain if any patients with bullet wounds of the shoulder had been admitted. At about 4:00 a. m., the Philadelphia police learned that a wounded man was a patient in a Camden, New Jersey, hospital. They also learned that appellant was with him and that the two men had driven to Camden in an automobile whose description matched the getaway car.

Upon receiving this information, the Philadelphia police went to Camden and asked appellant if he would voluntarily accompany them to Philadelphia for questioning. Appellant was told he did not have to go, but nevertheless agreed. No further questions were there asked, and appellant drove his own car back to Philadelphia. He arrived at police headquarters at 6:50 or 6:55 a. m.

After appellant arrived, detectives who had been investigating the case concluded that appellant was a potential suspect and warned him of the possible charges. The day shift was then coming on duty, and appellant was offered food and left alone until 8:25 a. m. A detective who had just arrived was informed of the robberymurder and interviewed appellant -- the first Philadelphia police officer to do so. After appellant was advised of his Miranda*fn4 rights he immediately admitted his participation as driver of the getaway car, denied participation in the actual robbery, and volunteered the names of the other robbers.

[ 459 Pa. Page 167]

Appellant was unable to recall the exact street addresses of the others, but agreed to point out their houses. He did so in the company of detectives and returned to police headquarters at about 10:30 or 11:00 a. m. He was again fed and left ...


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