Richard F. Furia, Philadelphia, for appellant.
F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., MariAnne E. Cox, Asst. Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Manderino, J., joins.
Appellant, Helen Boone, was indicted for murder in the stabbing death of one Donna Stocker and subsequently
convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter. Post-trial motions were denied and a sentence of 3 1/2 to 10 years imprisonment was imposed. This direct appeal followed.
Initially, appellant alleges as error the suppression court's failure to suppress all written and oral statements made by appellant.
Our responsibility upon review is to determine whether the record supports the factual findings of the lower court and the legitimacy of the inferences and legal conclusions drawn therefrom. Commonwealth v. Bundy, 458 Pa. 240, 328 A.2d 517 (1974); Commonwealth v. Stafford, 451 Pa. 95, 101, 301 A.2d 600, 604 (1974). Furthermore, we are to consider only the evidence of the prosecution's witnesses and that portion of the testimony offered by the defendant which is uncontradicted. See generally Commonwealth v. Goodwin, 460 Pa. 516, 333 A.2d 892 (1975); Commonwealth v. Bundy, supra.
The Commonwealth's evidence established that as a result of statements by appellant's estranged husband,*fn1 Ms. Boone was picked up for questioning at approximately 9:30 P.M., April 16, 1973. Police Officer Merrick, who had not up to that point participated in the investigation, was assigned the task of transporting appellant to police headquarters. Merrick testified that at this particular time, he was unaware appellant was a suspect and believed he was merely transporting a witness. Shortly after Ms. Boone entered the car, a radio dispatch directed Merrick to meet a police wagon. At this point the following conversation occurred.
"While I was sitting waiting for the wagon to arrive, Helen Boone asked me, she said, 'Do you know
what happened?' or, did I hear anything about what happened. I said 'No.' She said, 'Where are you taking me?' I said, 'I was told to take you to the P.A.B. Homicide Division.'
At this time she stated to me, 'Then my husband's girlfriend I stabbed must have died.' . . . She continued; she stated that she had gone to her husband's home, that she was attacked by his girlfriend, and she stabbed her, and they left."
Appellant was then handcuffed, transferred to another vehicle and taken to Police Headquarters where she arrived at 10:30 P.M. At 11:00 P.M., Ms. Boone was given her Miranda warnings and repeated the inculpatory statement. The statement was reduced to writing and signed by appellant. Fifteen minutes later, the same officer returned to clarify part of the statement. This interview lasted approximately one hour wherein appellant stated further that she did not believe decedent was going to stab her nor was there a struggle when appellant grabbed the weapon from the decedent's hand. The second written statement was completed and signed at 7:45 A.M. of the morning after her arrest.
Appellant first argues that she was in police custody upon entering the patrol car and therefore Miranda warnings should have been given to her at that time. She thus contends that the oral statements made to the officer in the police vehicle should have been suppressed and were improperly introduced against her at trial. Accepting arguendo the fact that she was in custody when she first entered Merrick's vehicle, this fact would not be helpful to appellant's present position. Under the circumstances it is clear that these statements were not as a result of ...