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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RALPH SPRIGGS (10/03/75)

decided: October 3, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
RALPH SPRIGGS, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Richard H. Martin, Baskin, Boreman, Wilner, Sachs, Gondelman & Craig, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

John J. Hickton, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Asst. Dist. Atty., John M. Tighe, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion. Jones, C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Nix

[ 463 Pa. Page 377]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Ralph G. Spriggs, was tried before a judge and jury on charges of murder and armed robbery and was convicted of murder in second degree and armed robbery. After post-trial motions were denied by the court en banc, appellant was sentenced to undergo a term of imprisonment of 8 to 20 years on the murder conviction. Sentence on the armed robbery conviction was suspended. This direct appeal followed.*fn1

The Commonwealth's evidence at trial adduced the following facts. On January 23, 1970, Walter Olen was shot and killed in a real estate office which he managed in Pittsburgh. Approximately five months later the police learned from an informant that appellant was involved

[ 463 Pa. Page 378]

    in the crime. In July 1971, another informant told the police that appellant and one, Augustus Gray, were involved in the shooting. The police then found that Gray's fingerprints matched a partial thumb and palm print found at the scene. In order to question appellant, the police obtained an order to take custody of him at Rockview Correctional Institution where he was then incarcerated on another offense. Appellant was not questioned during the drive to Pittsburgh. Approximately 20 minutes after arriving at the Public Safety Building in Pittsburgh, appellant was told that he was a suspect in the January 23rd shooting and was advised of his constitutional rights. Approximately 35 minutes thereafter, appellant admitted his involvement in the crime. He stated that he had gone with Gray to the real estate office with the intent to rob it, and that both he and Gray carried guns. He asserted however that when the victim armed himself with a pistol, he (Spriggs) fled the scene and that he did not witness or participate in the shooting in any way. Approximately 3 hours later, appellant gave a taped statement setting forth substantially the same facts as in his earlier oral statement.

[ 463 Pa. Page 379]

Appellant challenges the introduction into evidence of his confession. First he contends that the confession should have been suppressed as the product of an unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment. However, appellant failed to raise this issue at the suppression hearing which occurred six months after the announcement of our decision in Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972). Additionally, appellant failed to raise this objection when the statement was introduced at trial. Although appellant raised the issue on post-trial motions, the failure to make a timely objection either pre-trial or at trial precludes our review of it here. Commonwealth v. Tucker, 461 Pa. 191, 335 A.2d 704 (1975); Commonwealth v. Bryant, 461 Pa. 3, 334 A.2d 603 (1975); Commonwealth Page 379} v. Segers, 460 Pa. 149, 331 A.2d 462 (1975); Commonwealth v. Johnson, 457 Pa. 554, 327 A.2d 632 (1975); Commonwealth v. Reed, 458 Pa. 8, 326 A.2d 356 (1974).

Second, appellant claims that the confession should have been suppressed because the language used to apprise him of his constitutional rights did not adequately comply with the requirements set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).*fn2 Miranda mandates that an accused be informed that he has "the right to remain silent" and further that " anything said can and will be used against the individual in court". Here appellant was advised that:

"Under the law you cannot be compelled to answer, and you have the right to refuse to answer questions asked of you while you are in custody. If you do answer questions, the answers given by you will be used against you in a trial in ...


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