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COMMONWEALTH v. ROUNDTREE (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ROUNDTREE, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Dec. T., 1966, No. 732, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Roundtree.

COUNSEL

Robert S. Robbins, for appellant.

David Richman, Assistant District Attorney, with him Clifford Haines and James J. Ranney, Assistant District Attorneys, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Eagen and Mr. Justice Nix concur in the result. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 458 Pa. Page 352]

On February 28, 1973, appellant was convicted in a non-jury trial of second degree murder for the stabbing

[ 458 Pa. Page 353]

    death of one Nathaniel Davis on November 10, 1966. Following the denial of his post-trial motions, he filed a direct appeal in this Court,*fn1 alleging that he was denied his right to a speedy trial. For the reasons stated below, we affirm.

On the night of the murder, witnesses had observed the appellant and another man assaulting Davis, following an incident in a bar. Roundtree was arrested at the scene. A preliminary hearing was held later in November, 1966, and appellant was indicted for murder in December, 1966. An arraignment scheduled March 1, 1967 was aborted when appellant failed to appear; a bench warrant which was issued for him was lifted in mid-March. Whether a formal arraignment was ever held is unclear,*fn2 but it does appear that at some point appellant was freed on bail, and remained free throughout the period preceding trial.

There apparently was no action in the case until 1970, when it was listed for trial, but then continued. No further action was taken in the case until the fall of 1972, when the appellant was arrested on an unrelated charge. A routine records check divulged that there was an untried homicide charge pending against him.

At the hearing on the post-trial motions, it was ascertained that while appellant had been represented by counsel at least through the preliminary hearing, he had no counsel from the spring of 1967 until October, 1972, when the court appointed his present counsel. Trial was set for December, 1972, but was continued

[ 458 Pa. Page 354]

    because the Commonwealth could not locate its witnesses. The case was finally brought to trial on February 26, 1973, over ...


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