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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. HAROLD DANIELS (11/26/75)

decided: November 26, 1975.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
HAROLD DANIELS



COUNSEL

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Mark Sendrow, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Stanley M. Schwarz, Richard B. Schwartz, 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., joined. Jones, C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: O'brien

[ 470 Pa. Page 525]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On May 27, 1971, Harold Daniels was convicted by a judge, sitting with a jury, of murder in the first degree, aggravated robbery, and conspiracy, arising out of the stabbing death on February 8, 1970, of Francis George, a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Post-trial motions were denied by a court en banc and Daniels was sentenced to life imprisonment. This court reversed the conviction with a ruling that Daniels had been arrested without probable cause and that his confession was a product of the illegal arrest and should have been suppressed. The case was remanded for a new trial. Commonwealth v. Daniels, 455 Pa. 552, 317 A.2d 237 (1974).

Prior to retrial of his case, Daniels filed a motion to suppress all evidence, both verbal and physical, obtained as a result of his illegal arrest. The hearing judge granted Daniels' pretrial motion and the Commonwealth filed this appeal from the suppression order, alleging that the order substantially prejudiced its case.*fn1

The issue presented in this appeal is whether the names of certain witnesses, obtained from Diane Jones, were admissible at appellee's trial.

The circumstances leading up to the statement of Diane Jones are as follows. Diane Jones, Daniels' girl friend, was with him the night he was illegally arrested at his home. When Daniels was thereafter taken to police headquarters, Diane Jones asked for, and was granted, permission to accompany him to police headquarters.

[ 470 Pa. Page 526]

There she was interviewed by the police and gave them the names of Commonwealth witnesses David Michael Francis, Alexander Drain, Michael Presley and Anthony Rush. Daniels now seeks to suppress this statement as being the fruit of the poisonous tree under our decision in Commonwealth v. Cephas, 447 Pa. 500, 291 A.2d 106 (1972). We do not agree. In Cephas, we held that a witness who was found as the result of an illegal search was the fruit of the poisonous tree and could not testify against a defendant. We based our decision in Cephas on the fact that the witness who was found would not have been located but for the illegal search and illegal arrest. This conclusion was supported by the fact that if the witness had come forward to testify, she would have had to implicate herself in certain criminal activities, and that after the witness was found, police pressure motivated her statements. In Cephas, based on these facts, we found that the Commonwealth had found a witness as the result of an illegal search and could not meet its burden of establishing that the testimony of the witness was purged of any illegal taint and, therefore, admissible.

In the instant case, the identity and statement of Diane Jones does not fall within the Cephas rationale for two reasons. First, Diane Jones was the person who initially called the police and informed them that "Dead Leg" (Daniels' nickname) may have committed the homicide. This information led the police to Daniels' residence, where Diane Jones was at the time preparing dinner. Second, Diane Jones voluntarily went to police headquarters with Daniels and thereafter voluntarily gave the statement that is now in question. In the instant case, Diane Jones, unlike the witness in Cephas, was present because of her direct actions of calling the police with an anonymous "tip", and voluntarily accompanying appellee to police headquarters and giving the police a statement of her own free will. Based on these facts, the testimony of Diane Jones does not fall within

[ 470 Pa. Page 527]

    the Cephas rationale. Having decided the names of the above-mentioned witnesses were secured properly, we also find that the testimony of the witnesses that led to any further evidence or witnesses is also admissible.

Order reversed. Case remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

[ 470 Pa. Page 534]

SUPPLEMENTAL OPINION OF THE COURT

Per Curiam

Case remanded to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia for an evidentiary hearing and determination of whether the stipulation entered into by defense counsel and the ...


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