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COMMONWEALTH v. BLAGMAN (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BLAGMAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1970, Nos. 2282 to 2285, inclusive, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Robert Blagman.

COUNSEL

D. M. Masciantonio, for appellant.

David Richman, Assistant District Attorney, with him Melvin Dildine, Assistant District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Pomeroy concurs in the result. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Chief Justice Jones, Mr. Justice O'Brien, Mr. Justice Nix and Mr. Justice Manderino join in this concurring opinion.

Author: Jones

[ 458 Pa. Page 432]

Appellant, Robert Blagman, was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree, robbery, burglary and conspiracy. Following the denial of post-trial motions, a life sentence was imposed for murder and concurrent lesser sentences were imposed for appellant's other offenses. This direct appeal followed.

On May 6, 1970, decedent, Isadore Selez, an elderly junk dealer, was allegedly robbed and murdered by four youths. The following day, four youths including appellant, then aged 16 years, were arrested for an unrelated copper-tubing burglary. Arresting officers, believing that the youths resembled those described in connection with the Selez homicide, transported the four to homicide headquarters.

The chronology of the events that followed is not in dispute. At approximately 6:15 p.m. on May 7, 1970, shortly after his arrest for burglary, appellant was warned of his constitutional rights. Although appellant's

[ 458 Pa. Page 433]

    original statement to the police denied participation in the homicide, appellant volunteered to "tell what happened" and after approximately forty minutes of questioning agreed to submit to a polygraph test. After approximately a half hour, and upon discovering that all polygraph machines were in use, the police questioned appellant for another forty minutes. Less than an hour after this second round of questioning appellant was taken for his polygraph test. Prior to the test appellant signed a written waiver form indicating that he was taking the examination voluntarily. The test lasted an hour and a half during part of which time appellant was fed. At the conclusion of the test and shortly before 10:30 p.m., appellant admitted his participation in the Selez murder. During the interview which immediately ensued, appellant further explained the circumstances surrounding the homicide and by approximately 1:15 a.m., on the morning of May 8, 1970, the essential details of appellant's criminal activity were reduced to writing.

After relating his involvement in the murder, appellant was left alone. In the meantime, the police escorted appellant's mother to homicide headquarters. When appellant's mother arrived, she was given time to speak with her son and additional warnings were given to both. A formal statement which was practically a verbatim account of earlier admissions, was then recorded.

Prior to trial, a motion to suppress the statements obtained during the evening of May 7 and the early hours of May 8 was denied. Relying upon this Court's application of Rule 118*fn* of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure in Commonwealth ...


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