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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MARILYN ANN DOBROLENSKI (03/18/75)

decided: March 18, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MARILYN ANN DOBROLENSKI, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. MARILYN ANN DOBROLENSKI



COUNSEL

John S. J. Brooks, Media, for appellant in No. 493 and appellee in No. 495.

Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., Dist. Atty., Ralph B. D'Iorio, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., John A. Reilly, Chief Deputy Dist. Atty., Media, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Eagen, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Roberts

[ 460 Pa. Page 634]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Marilyn Dobrolenski was charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths of Ronald Carey and David Yarrington. As to each count, she pleaded guilty to murder generally and, after a degree of guilt hearing, was convicted of murder in the first degree. Sentence was initially fixed at death, but the trial court vacated this sentence in light of Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 92 S.Ct. 2726, 33 L.Ed.2d 346 (1972), and imposed two consecutive life sentences. These direct appeals followed.*fn1

Dobrolenski contends that (1) her plea of guilty was coerced by the trial court's allegedly erroneous refusal to grant a change of venue, and (2) an erroneous ruling by the court at the hearing on her motion to suppress certain inculpatory statements prevented her from establishing a denial of her right to counsel during police interrogation. The Commonwealth challenges the order vacating the sentence of death. We affirm.

In addition to reviewing the errors assigned by the parties, we are under a statutory duty, Act of February 15, 1870, P.L. 15, § 2, 19 P.S. § 1187 (1964), to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to support the conclusion that the crime rose to murder in the first degree. In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we must, of course, view the record in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, in this case the Commonwealth. Commonwealth v. McFadden, 448 Pa. 277, 281, 292 A.2d 324, 326 (1972). So viewed, the record discloses that on January 5, 1972, Irving Hogg and Dobrolenski

[ 460 Pa. Page 635]

    perpetrated an armed robbery of a motel. As they left the motel they encountered police officers Carey and Yarrington, who sought to apprehend them. The police officers engaged in a struggle with Hogg and, while they were struggling, Dobrolenski pointed a gun at the officers and fired several shots, which fatally wounded the officers. This evidence is sufficient to support a finding of murder in the first degree either as a felony murder or a willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing. See Act of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, repealed by Act of December 6, 1972, P.L. 1482, No. 334, § 5.

Dobrolenski's principal argument relates to the denial of her motion for change of venue. The crimes were committed on January 5, 1972, and Dobrolenski was arrested and arraigned on January 6. On February 10, a motion for change of venue was filed, alleging that "the incident, the alleged perpetrators, the victims and their families have been the subject of intensive and extensive publicity by all the mass media" to a degree unprecedented in the history of Delaware County. It was contended that, because of this publicity, it would be impossible to impanel an impartial jury. On February 25, a hearing was held and the motion was denied.

In March the grand jury returned indictments for murder against Dobrolenski. The case was then continued to the June term of court to permit psychiatric examination. A motion to suppress evidence was filed on June 10 and denied on June 16, after a hearing. On June 19, Dobrolenski entered counseled pleas of guilty to murder, generally, which she now contends were coerced by the allegedly erroneous denial of a change of venue.

At the outset we are met with a contention by the Commonwealth that review of the denial of change of venue is foreclosed by Dobrolenski's failure to attempt the impaneling of an impartial jury. The Commonwealth relies primarily on the case of Butzman v. United States, 205 F.2d 343 (6th Cir. 1953), where a waiver of

[ 460 Pa. Page 636]

    jury trial was held to preclude challenge to the prior failure to grant a change of venue. After noting its belief that a fair jury might have ...


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