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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOHN GUS RUSH (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JOHN GUS RUSH, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

F. Ross Crumlish, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Arlen Specter, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Milton M. Stein, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., D. Richman, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Nix

[ 459 Pa. Page 24]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, John Rush, was indicted and charged with murder, aggravated robbery, and conspiracy. Prior to trial a confession to the crimes made by the appellant was the subject of a motion to suppress. A hearing on the motion was held and it was subsequently denied. Trial was had before a judge and jury and the appellant was found guilty of murder in the first degree, aggravated robbery, and conspiracy. Post-trial motions were filed and denied by the court en banc. Thereafter, appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder conviction to be followed by twenty years probation on the aggravated robbery conviction. Appellant received a

[ 459 Pa. Page 25]

    suspended sentence on the conspiracy conviction. This appeal followed.*fn1

The first issue before us is whether appellant's confession was improperly admitted into evidence in that it was the product of an arrest made without probable cause. Harold Daniels, appellant's co-conspirator, confessed to the murder-robbery of one Francis George, then a student at the University of Pennsylvania. In his statement, Daniels implicated the appellant as the other individual who went along with him to make a "hit". Based upon this information the detective supervising the interrogation directed two police officers to arrest the appellant. The officers had not been privy to Daniels' confession and implication of the appellant.

From the aforesaid facts, appellant contends that the confession of a co-conspirator implicating the appellant in the murder-robbery was not sufficient to support a finding of probable cause to support his arrest. Moreover, it is contended that the arresting officers lacked sufficient grounds to arrest the appellant in that they were not apprised of the information constituting probable cause. We find appellant's contentions to be without merit.

[ 459 Pa. Page 26]

A constitutionally valid warrantless arrest must be based on probable cause indicating that the person arrested has committed or is in the process of committing the crime. Whiteley v. Warden, 401 U.S. 560, 566, 91 S.Ct. 1031, 28 L.Ed.2d 306 (1971); Henry v. United States, 361 U.S. 98, 100-102, 80 S.Ct. 168, 4 L.Ed.2d 134 (1959); Commonwealth v. Norwood, 456 Pa. 330, 319 A.2d 908 (1974) (J-147); Commonwealth v. Kenney, 449 Pa. 562, 567, 297 A.2d 794, 796 (1972); Commonwealth v. Page 26} Garvin, 448 Pa. 258, 262, 293, A.2d 33, 35 (1972); Commonwealth v. Bishop, 425 Pa. 175, 181, 228 A.2d 661, 664-665 (1967). In the instant appeal, probable cause for the warrantless arrest is premised upon the information received from Daniels' confession implicating the appellant in the criminal venture. We have held that "the confession of a co-defendant which implicates the suspect will supply the probable cause for a warrantless arrest." Commonwealth v. Kenney, supra 449 Pa. at 567, 297 A.2d at 796; see also, Commonwealth v. White, 447 Pa. 331, 290 A.2d 246 (1972); Commonwealth v. Matthews, 446 Pa. 65, 285 A.2d 510 (1971).

The facts and circumstances establishing probable cause must be known to the police at the time of the arrest. Henry v. United States, supra 361 U.S. at 103, 80 S.Ct. 168; Commonwealth v. Kenney, supra 449 Pa. at 565-567, 297 A.2d at 795. However, acting on the orders of an officer with probable cause obviates the need for probable cause on the part of the arresting officers. Whiteley v. Warden, supra 401 U.S. at 568-569, 91 S.Ct. 1031 (1971); United States v. McCarthy, 473 F.2d 300, 306 (2d Cir. 1972); United States v. Loundmannz, 153 U.S.App.D.C. 301, 472 F.2d 1376, 1379 ...


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