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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. NORMAN BULLARD (01/29/76)

decided: January 29, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
NORMAN BULLARD, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Neil E. Jokelson, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Daniel P. McElhatton, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Eagen, Justice (Dissenting). Jones, C. J., and Pomeroy, J., join in this dissent.

Author: Roberts

[ 465 Pa. Page 343]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Norman Bullard was convicted after a jury trial of murder in the first degree. After post-trial motions

[ 465 Pa. Page 344]

    were denied, judgment of sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. Appellant contends that statements given to police after he was taken into custody should have been suppressed. We agree, reverse the judgment of sentence and grant a new trial.*fn1

In all cases of first degree murder this Court is required by statute to "determine whether the ingredients necessary to constitute murder in the first degree shall have been proved to exist."*fn2 In so doing we must consider the record in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth's case. Commonwealth v. Robson, 461 Pa. 615, 630, 337 A.2d 573, 579 (1975); Commonwealth v. Boyd, 461 Pa. 17, 21, 334 A.2d 610, 613 (1975); Commonwealth v. Murray, 460 Pa. 605, 610, 334 A.2d 255, 257 (1975). Reviewing the record in this light we are persuaded that the jury's finding of the necessary elements of the offense is supported by the evidence.

The Commonwealth introduced into evidence an eight page signed statement appellant gave to the police admitting his participation in the stabbing. The Commonwealth also introduced the testimony of an eyewitness, Tyrone Raymond, who was present at the altercation and who said that appellant stabbed the victim. At least two other witnesses who saw the stabbing gave testimony implicating appellant. In view of the entire record we are convinced that the jury's verdict was supported by sufficient evidence.

We must next consider appellant's claim that his statement should not have been admitted into evidence. The facts surrounding this claim are unusual and indicate an alarming disregard for appellant's constitutional rights.

Appellant learned that he was being sought in connection with the stabbing of a young man. He feared that

[ 465 Pa. Page 345]

    he might be harmed when apprehended by police. He expressed this anxiety to James "Country" Robinson, a gang-control worker. Robinson telephoned the Honorable Paul A. Dandridge, a judge of the Philadelphia Municipal Court (now a judge of the Court of Common Pleas), and explained the situation to him.

Judge Dandridge checked with police and learned that a warrant had been issued for appellant's arrest. He advised appellant to come to his chambers and surrender himself to the police. The judge arranged for Deputy Chief Gilbert Branche of the Philadelphia District Attorney's detectives to come to his chambers and take appellant into custody. Judge Dandridge apparently believed this arrangement would alleviate any anxiety appellant entertained about being taken into custody.

At about 2:30 p. m., Detective Branche went to Judge Dandridge's chambers. Appellant was there with "Country" Robinson and a few others. In his suppression hearing testimony, Branche described what transpired:

"Judge Dandridge said to me that 'This is Norman Bullard, the fellow that we have talked about. He is wanted by the police department.'

"He said, 'Norman's family is out trying to obtain a lawyer at this time. I don't think they have reached one yet.'

"And I think Norman said, 'No, they haven't.'

"He said, 'Well, I want you to take Norman down to the police department, and I don't want anyone to talk to him until his family obtains a lawyer.'

"I said to the judge, 'I'll take him down there and I will relay your message, although they will talk to him anyhow, as their policy. They are going to ask him things about ...


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