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COMMONWEALTH v. BRICKER (10/16/74)

decided: October 16, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BRICKER, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Feb. T., 1964, No. 103, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Robert L. Bricker.

COUNSEL

Harry F. Swanger, with him Gordon W. Reiselt, and Logan, Sharon & Swanger, for appellant.

Louis R. Paulick, Assistant District Attorney, with him Robert L. Eberhardt and Carol Mary Los, Assistant District Attorneys, and Robert W. Duggan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

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

Author: Nix

[ 458 Pa. Page 369]

Appellant, Robert L. Bricker, was indicted on a bill containing counts of murder and voluntary manslaughter. On June 22, 1964, appellant, represented by court appointed counsel, entered a plea of guilty to murder generally. Immediately thereafter, a degree of guilt hearing was held wherein appellant was found guilty of first degree murder. No post-trial motions were then filed nor appeal taken. A sentence of life imprisonment was imposed.

On April 3, 1969, appellant, pursuant to the Post Conviction Hearing Act*fn1 (PCHA), filed a petition alleging inter alia, that he had not intelligently and voluntarily waived his right to appeal. The hearing court found he had been denied this right and ordered that appellant be permitted to file an appeal as though timely filed. However, that court went on to discuss the remaining issues raised in the petition. Specifically, the PCHA hearing court found appellant's contention that his guilty plea was not knowingly and intelligently entered because it was induced by a coerced confession to be without merit and denied relief upon that ground. An appeal was then taken to this Court, wherein we remanded the case to permit appellant an opportunity to file post-trial motions nunc pro tunc, with leave that appellant, should such motions be denied, be permitted to file an appeal from the judgment of sentence. Commonwealth v. Bricker, 444 Pa. 476, 282 A.2d 31 (1971).*fn2

[ 458 Pa. Page 370]

A motion for new trial challenging the sufficiency of the evidence upon which a finding of first degree murder was based and alleging that his guilty plea was not knowingly and intelligently entered because it was induced by a coerced confession, was filed, argued and denied. This appeal followed.

The evidence produced at the degree of guilt hearing established that on December 26, 1963, appellant telephoned Willie Jenkins, the deceased, in reference to a job that Jenkins had discussed with the appellant. They arranged a meeting that night at 10:00 p.m. at which time Jenkins would pick Bricker up in his automobile at a designated location. To that meeting the appellant carried a loaded .45 calibre automatic revolver. Prior to this rendezvous appellant had discussed on several occasions the possibility of robbing Jenkins with one Michael Ayers. There was also testimony to suggest that appellant had reason to believe that the deceased would have a substantial sum of money with him at the time of the meeting. Upon meeting, the two men drove off in the automobile of the deceased. After a short time appellant inquired of the deceased as to the status of the prospective employment. Jenkins is alleged to have responded, "You are not doing nothing for me, why should I get you a job." Thereupon appellant removed an automatic revolver from his person, fired two shots at the deceased from a distance of approximately two feet. One shot struck the deceased in the chest and the bullet after entering the body entered the top portion of the heart. The second bullet passed through the arm of the deceased, entered the chest and proceeded downward striking the liver. Appellant then pushed the deceased out of the

[ 458 Pa. Page 371]

    vehicle and drove from the scene and in so doing unknowingly dragged the deceased for approximately two hundred feet before the body of the deceased became dislodged from the vehicle. When found the wallet of the deceased and loose paper currency had not been removed from the body.

At the degree of guilt hearing the court en banc concluded that a finding of murder in the first degree was justified both on a theory of wilfull, deliberate, premeditated murder and under the ...


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