John J. Hickton, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellant.
John J. Dean, Pittsburgh, for appellees.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy and Nix, JJ., agree with the result because they do not believe the delay in either case constituted an unnecessary delay. Roberts, J., files a concurring and dissenting opinion in which Manderino, J., joins.
These appeals were consolidated for presentation to this Court, and will be disposed of in this one opinion. The background is this:
About 7:45 p. m. on November 21, 1973, Mrs. Cecelia Buczkowski was the victim of a purse snatching in the automobile parking area of a shopping center in
Pleasant Hills Borough, Allegheny County. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Buczkowski was found lying on the ground unconscious. She was removed to a hospital where she died two days later. In the course of the police investigation, Ronald Milton and Thomas E. Wormsley were questioned about the crime. They were later indicted for the murder of Mrs. Buczkowski and other charges related to the assault and theft. Each filed a pretrial motion to suppress evidence of his statements to the police. After evidentiary hearings, the trial court granted the motions. The Commonwealth filed these appeals.*fn1
The testimony at the suppression hearings remained uncontradicted throughout and established these facts:
About one hour after the occurrence of the purse snatching, police officers of Pleasant Hills Borough had cause to pursue a "Blue Torino" automobile. During the chase the "Blue Torino" crashed into a pole and was substantially damaged. The driver, who was the sole occupant, fled on foot and escaped. A police search of the abandoned vehicle disclosed a sales slip on the front seat from Kaufman's department store located in the shopping center where Mrs. Buczkowski was assaulted. The sales slip was issued in the name of Richard A. Buczkowski, which is the name of the husband of the victim.
Later the same night, about 10:00 p. m., Ronald Milton was taken into custody by the Pleasant Hills Borough police on a warrant issued by the authorities of nearby West Mifflin Borough, Allegheny County, charging him with having committed a robbery in that borough. After his arrest, Milton was warned of his constitutional rights as mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). The chief of police of Pleasant Hills Borough then, noting that the robbery charge from West Mifflin Borough involved a purse snatching, asked Milton if he had been near the Pleasant Hills Shopping Center earlier that evening. Milton said "no", but in a brief period of questioning that followed, he stated that the "Blue Torino" which the ...