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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES CROSBY (10/30/75)

decided: October 30, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JAMES CROSBY, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Edward A. Savastio, Upper Darby, for appellant.

Ralph B. D'Iorio, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., Dist. Atty., Media, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Roberts and Nix, JJ., joined.

Author: Jones

[ 464 Pa. Page 339]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Following a jury trial, appellant was convicted of assault to commit sodomy, sodomy, and murder in the second degree. The only direct evidence against appellant was his confession which had been the subject of an earlier suppression hearing. Appellant contends here that he was denied due process of law because the confession should have been suppressed as involuntarily and improperly obtained. After reviewing the aggregate of the circumstances surrounding the taking of the confession, we believe that the suppression court correctly found that the appellant's confession was voluntary. We therefore affirm.

The half-naked body of Eugene Moore, aged 14, was discovered on an athletic field in Darby Township, Delaware County, on the morning of December 26, 1970. An autopsy revealed that he had been subjected to anal intercourse and the cause of death was strangulation.

During the ensuing investigation of the crime, appellant, among others, was interviewed by the police on December 30, 1970. Appellant voluntarily came into the police station because he understood the Chief of Police wanted to talk to him. It had come to their attention, and appellant freely admitted, that he had often engaged in acts of anal intercourse with young boys, during the course of which he would grab his victim by the throat.

[ 464 Pa. Page 340]

However, he steadfastly denied any knowledge of or participation in the crime in question and, after about two hours of discussion, appellant exercised his right to terminate the interview and left the police station.

On January 16, 1971, Detective Dickerson along with another detective went to the appellant's home armed with a search warrant for the appellant's residence which warrant ultimately turned out to be patently defective due to a lack of the required affidavit. The detectives did not attempt to execute a search because they did not wish to disturb appellant's mother who was the only person home at the time. Instead, the two detectives traveled to Philadelphia and appeared at the appellant's father's automobile repair shop where the appellant was working. Upon arrival, Dickerson told appellant in the presence of his father that they wanted to speak further with him about the Eugene Moore murder case. At this time, he also advised appellant of his constitutional right to remain silent, to have free counsel, etc., and appellant acknowledged his understanding of these rights. Appellant was not charged with any crime or taken into custody at this time. Dickerson also told him that they had a search warrant for his house. The appellant expressed willingness to speak with the officers, although he indicated a desire that the questioning take place in the repair shop. Dickerson stated his preference that the interview be conducted at the Court House in Media, in view of the cold and uncomfortable conditions in the repair shop, and, after a short exchange, appellant agreed to go to Media.

The appellant, in the company of the detectives, arrived at the Court House at about 1:25 P.M. Nothing transpired until 1:40 P.M. when Dickerson again advised the appellant of his constitutional rights and he expressed his understanding of these and his willingness to answer questions. Appellant then answered questions

[ 464 Pa. Page 341]

    for about twenty minutes, but steadfastly denied any ...


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