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decided: July 7, 1975.



John J. Hickton, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Louis R. Paulick, Asst. Dist. Attys., Pittsburgh, John M. Tighe, First Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellant.

John J. Dean, Stephen P. Swem, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Jones, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Pomeroy

[ 462 Pa. Page 416]


The Commonwealth has appealed from an order of the trial court suppressing certain incriminating statements made by John McDade, the appellee, in connection with the homicide of one Joey Wells.*fn1 The trial court, after a hearing on appellee's oral motion to suppress,*fn2 issued a blanket order suppressing all statements made by the defendant because he had not been advised of his constitutional rights as mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), prior to his initial interview by the police concerning the Wells slaying; and suppressing all evidence obtained during the period between defendant's arrest and arraignment for the additional reason that that evidence was the product of an unnecessary delay in violation of Rule 118

[ 462 Pa. Page 417]

    of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, 19 P.S. Appendix, and hence inadmissible under Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972).

The Commonwealth complains only of the suppression of two of the incriminating declarations: (1) a statement made by the defendant to two women friends; and (2) a statement made by the defendant to a fellow-inmate while he was incarcerated on an unrelated charge. For the reasons hereinafter stated, we conclude that the order was correct except insofar as it suppressed the statement made to the fellow-inmate. We will therefore affirm with an appropriate modification.

A review of the facts surrounding the giving of these statements is necessary. On June 8, 1972 the body of 14 year old Joey Wells was discovered lying in a creek in Fawn Township, Allegheny County. The deceased's hands were wired behind his back and there were indications that he had been shot three times. During the subsequent police investigation it was learned that John McDade may have been the last person to have seen Joey Wells alive. McDade was first interviewed concerning the Wells homicide on July 13, 1972. At that time he was not suspected as being involved in the crime; No Miranda warnings were given to him, and no inculpatory statements were made. The next day the defendant was transferred from the police station at the Borough of Tarentum to the Allegheny County Jail to commence serving a two-week sentence on a summary conviction for an unrelated offense. On the same day he was taken by county detectives to the Detective Bureau, where he remained in custody of the detectives for approximately eight and one-half hours.*fn3

[ 462 Pa. Page 418]

Three days later, July 17, 1972, McDade was again interrogated. By this time he had become the focus of the investigation, and the questioning was preceded by the giving, apparently for the first time, of warnings concerning his constitutional rights, which were waived in writing. From noon until midnight of that day, the defendant was questioned intermittently, first at the Millvale police station,*fn4 then at the scene of the discovery of Wells' body, again at the nearby Fawn Township Municipal Building where he was allowed to talk for about an hour with his mother and sister, and finally at the Allegheny County Detective Bureau. During this period, McDade made various incriminating statements to the police, culminating in a seven-page written confession obtained after his return to the Detective Bureau. The taking of this formal statement began at 12:26 A.M., July 18, 1973, prior to which the defendant was again advised of his constitutional rights, which he again waived. He then was told by one of the officers that he was under arrest for the Wells slaying.

At about noon on July 18, 1972, McDade was taken by the police, at his own request, to the New Kensington, Pennsylvania home of two women friends for the purpose of discussing the homicide with them. The defendant was permitted to converse with the women in a room out of earshot of the police. After this conversation one of the women then told the police that McDade wished to change his story, but that he was afraid that the police would "be angry with him because he told you a lie with regard to the gun." Upon being assured that the police would not be ...

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