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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES EDWARD THOMPSON (01/29/76)

decided: January 29, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
CHARLES EDWARD THOMPSON



COUNSEL

Francis X. Nolan, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Arlen Specter, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Milton M. Stein, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., and Eagen, J., concur in the result. Pomeroy, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Manderino, J., joins.

Author: Nix

[ 466 Pa. Page 17]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On November 29, 1972, appellant Charles Thompson pleaded guilty to the charge of murder generally which the Commonwealth certified to be no higher than murder of the second degree. Approximately one year later a direct appeal was filed in this Court which we allowed nunc pro tunc.

Appellant's sole contention is that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered because the colloquy pursuant to which he entered it was deficient. Specifically, he contends this deficiency resulted from the fact that his plea was accepted in the face of an affirmative defense, that the elements of the offense were never explained to him and that certain rights attendant upon a jury trial were inadequately explained. Since we agree with appellant's first contentions, we need not reach the merits of his final claim.

At the guilty plea hearing, appellant's counsel conducted the guilty plea colloquy with the court's approval. During the course of this dialogue, no attempt was made to elicit specifically from appellant those acts surrounding the shooting which he intended to admit by the entry of the plea other than the single unchallenged fact that he fired the shot which caused the death of Mr. Andrews. The record contains the following questions and answers which represent the entire information ascertained as to those acts to which appellant admitted responsibility prior to the acceptance of the plea.

[ 466 Pa. Page 18]

"Q. Charles, do you understand that you are charged by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with committing murder? Do you understand this?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you understand that in second-degree murder there is a maximum penalty which can be imposed -- a minimum of 10 years and a maximum period of ...


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