Fremont J. McKendrick, Ebensburg, for appellant.
Caram J. Abood, Dist. Atty., Ebensburg, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Eagen, J., concurs in the result.
Appellant, Landrum Monroe Powell, was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. In this direct appeal,*fn1 Powell asserts three claims of error. First, he argues that his statements to the police should have been suppressed. Second, he alleges the court abused its discretion in failing to grant his motion for a change of venue. Finally, appellant maintains that his right to compulsory process for obtaining witnesses was denied by the quashing of a subpoena served on a prospective defense witness.
On December 6, 1971, Augustine Thomas Watt, a well-known, 76-year-old resident of Cambria County, was murdered during a burglary of his home. Appellant and Edward Logan became the prime suspects. In March, 1972, appellant was arrested in North Carolina for the murder. He waived extradition.
Three Pennsylvania state policemen and one Cambria County detective were assigned to return Powell to Pennsylvania. On March 7, 1972, the North Carolina police surrendered Powell to the four Pennsylvania officers. Before beginning the automobile trip back to Cambria County, the officers informed Powell of his constitutional rights.*fn2 They did not question him during the ride. Nevertheless, appellant made several inculpatory statements during the eight-hour trip. In the most incriminating, he told the officers, "I don't know why I got involved, killing an old man like that. I must be crazy, I belong in an institution." Whenever Powell began making a statement, the police urged him to wait until he had consulted counsel.
Appellant and Logan were charged with Watt's murder. Upon Powell's motion, he was granted a separate trial. Logan was tried first, and was convicted on October 2, 1972, of murder in the first degree. Because Watt's murder had attracted great public interest, the local newspapers, radio and television covered the trial extensively.
During Logan's trial, a prosecution witness, Dr. Fagan, testified that she had accompanied Logan to the victim's home prior to the crime to discuss the purchase of antiques. Although Dr. Fagan was a resident of neighboring Blair County, her appearance at Logan's trial interrupted an extended tour of South America. Realizing that Dr. Fagan would resume her trip when she completed her testimony and desiring that she appear as a defense witness at his trial, Powell served a subpoena upon Dr. Fagan immediately following her testimony.
The witness promptly petitioned the court to quash the subpoena. The court ruled that section 4 of the Uniform Act to Secure Attendance of Witnesses*fn3 barred the service of a subpoena upon a witness who, like Dr. Fagan, came into the Commonwealth in obedience to a previously issued subpoena. On October 3, 1972, appellant applied to the ...