Richard H. Anderson, Media, for appellant.
Stephen J. McEwen, Jr., Dist. Atty., Ralph B. D'Iorio, Asst. Dist. Atty., Media, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., and Eagen and Pomeroy, JJ., dissent.
This direct appeal from judgments of sentence for murder in the second degree and conspiracy was previously before this Court. At that time, appellant's counsel, who was also trial counsel, filed a brief with this Court. Appellant, Buford Dilbeck, pro se, also, submitted a brief challenging the effectiveness of his counsel's assistance both at trial and in the then pending appeal. We agreed with appellant that his counsel's appellate brief did not meet the requirements of Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 87 S.Ct. 1396, 18 L.Ed.2d 493 (1967) and Commonwealth v. Baker, 429 Pa. 209, 239 A.2d 201 (1968). Since appellant had also raised the issue of the same counsel's effective assistance at trial, we remanded the matter for the appointment of new counsel, unless waived by appellant on remand, and ordered new counsel, if appointed, to file a new brief and argue this appeal. See Commonwealth v. Dilbeck, 455 Pa. 113, 314 A.2d 505 (1974). Subsequent to our remand, new counsel was appointed and now represents appellant in this appeal.
Several issues are raised including a claim that the trial court failed to comply with Rule 319(a) of the
Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure in accepting appellant's plea of guilty to murder generally. Appellant contends that the trial court's pre-plea examination was deficient since it failed to elicit the information required by the Rule which was in effect at the time of the plea. Specifically, appellant charges that the colloquy failed to establish that the appellant understood the nature of the charges to which he was pleading guilty. We agree and therefore reverse.
Although a colloquy appears of record prior to the acceptance of the guilty plea, there was no inquiry to determine whether the appellant understood the nature of the charges to which he pleaded guilty. An examination of the colloquy discloses the following concerning the charges:
"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: All right. Now, Buford, along with that, do you understand that by pleading guilty to murder generally you are pleading guilty to the fact that you caused the death of Harry Balthasor, Jr.?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: And of course you are also pleading guilty to the crime of conspiracy and by that you are admitting that you conspired with ...