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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM KEITH RIGGS (10/30/75)

decided: October 30, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
WILLIAM KEITH RIGGS, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Dennis H. Eisman, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Benjamin H. Levintow, Asst. Dist. Atty., Mark Sendrow, Asst. Dist. Atty., Assistant Chief, Appeals Div., Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy Dist. Atty., for Law, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., filed a concurring opinion. Eagen, J., dissents. Pomeroy, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 465 Pa. Page 209]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant was convicted of murder in the first degree, aggravated robbery and burglary stemming from the robbery and death by beating of one Isadore Selez on May 6, 1970. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder charge and a concurrent 5 to 15 year term of imprisonment for aggravated robbery. Sentence was suspended on the burglary conviction.

At the time of the offense and his arrest appellant was 15 years of age. He made an oral confession to the police before being granted the benefit of counsel or parental or informed interest-adult guidance. A motion to suppress the statement was made pre-trial and was denied; the statement was admitted into evidence at trial. We held recently in Commonwealth v. McCutchen, 463 Pa. 90, 343 A.2d 669 (1975) that a waiver of Miranda rights obtained under such circumstances is involuntary. It follows that appellant's convictions must be reversed.

Judgments of sentence reversed and new trial is ordered.

[ 465 Pa. Page 210]

JONES, Chief Justice (concurring).

I concur in the result on the basis that under the "totality of the circumstances" the judgment of sentence must be reversed and a new trial ordered. Commonwealth v. Davis, 455 Pa. 142, 314 A.2d 313 (1974); Commonwealth v. Porter, 449 Pa. 153, 295 A.2d 311 (1972); Commonwealth v. Moses, 446 Pa. 350, 287 A.2d 131 (1971).

Appellant Riggs was fifteen years of age at the time of his arrest. He was taken into custody by police officers at 4:10 p.m. on May 7, 1970. At 6:05 p.m. appellant was removed from the district police station to Homicide Division Headquarters for questioning in connection with a murder which occurred the preceding day one block from where appellant and three friends were arrested (the youths having been originally picked up in a vacant house with goods commonly associated with the deceased victim's business). Appellant was given his Miranda*fn1 warnings upon arrival at Homicide Headquarters. He waived his rights thereunder and answered questions, at first denying participation in the death of the deceased. Approximately four and one-half hours (at 10:45 p.m.) after the questioning began, however, appellant made a full oral confession.

The facts of this case present another situation wherein the validity of a juvenile's custodial confession has come under attack. Presently, the analysis to be applied in such instances has become confused and the majority's per curiam reversal today, simply relying on Commonwealth v. McCutchen, 463 Pa. 90, 343 A.2d 669 (1975) [J-156 ...


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