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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WALTER LASCH (10/30/75)

decided: October 30, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
WALTER LASCH, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Richard P. Hunter, Jr., Gary A. Shapiro, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Glenn S. Gitomer, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., and Eagen and Pomeroy, JJ., dissent.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 464 Pa. Page 260]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence (four to fifteen years imprisonment) imposed on Walter Lasch, following his conviction by a jury of murder in the second degree.

The prosecution stemmed from the fatal stabbing of Paul Speaks in Philadelphia on December 17, 1972. Lasch made a statement to the police admitting he committed the stabbing. A pretrial motion to suppress evidence of this statement was overruled and at trial it was admitted against Lasch over timely objection. We rule the statement should have been suppressed and evidence thereof excluded at trial for reasons that follow. We will, therefore, order a new trial.

[ 464 Pa. Page 261]

These facts were established by the Commonwealth's own evidence during the suppression hearing and again at trial, and hence, must be accepted as true for the purposes of this appeal. Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 429 Pa. 141, 239 A.2d 426 (1968).

Lasch was taken into police custody at 1:50 a.m. on January 15, 1973, for an alleged narcotics violation. A warrant for his arrest on the charge of murder of Speaks had been previously issued on December 18, 1972, and on the basis of this warrant Lasch was transferred to Homicide Headquarters in the Police Administration Building at 3:50 a.m. for questioning. There, he was told immediately of the murder charge against him, but he was not informed of his constitutional rights, as defined by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Lasch was then handcuffed to a chair and left alone in a room until 9:30 a.m.

At 9:30 a.m. Lasch was first questioned about the Speaks' killing. Before this questioning began, he was warned of his Miranda rights and again informed of the reason for his arrest. Lasch indicated he understood his rights and was willing to answer questions, but stated he knew nothing about Speaks' killing. This period of questioning continued until 1:30 p.m. with one interruption for about thirty minutes at 11:00 a.m., when Lasch was given something to eat. Throughout this questioning, Lasch insisted he did not know Speaks and was not involved in his killing. At 1:30 p.m. Lasch was again handcuffed to a chair and left alone until 3:00 p.m. He was then escorted to the bathroom, fed, and again handcuffed and left alone until 5:00 p.m.

At 5:00 p.m. the questioning resumed and continued for about one hour. It was during this period that Lasch first incriminated himself. Beginning at 6:40 p.m. and continuing until 7:40 p.m., a detailed incriminating ...


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