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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. NATHANIEL ODOM (05/12/76)

decided: May 12, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
NATHANIEL ODOM, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Jack M. Myers, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Pomeroy and Nix, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Manderino

[ 467 Pa. Page 397]

OPINION

Appellant, Nathaniel Odom, was tried and convicted on charges arising out of the robbery and murder of one Martin Dobkin. Pretrial motions to suppress certain statements appellant had given to the police were denied, and appellant was tried before a jury and convicted of murder in the first degree and aggravated robbery. Post-verdict motions were denied, and appellant was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment on the murder charge and a concurrent ten to twenty year term on the robbery conviction. An appeal from the denial of post-verdict motions following the judgment of sentence for murder was taken directly to this Court, and an appeal from the judgment of sentence for robbery was filed in the Superior Court and transferred here.

At trial it was established that Martin Dobkin was killed during the course of a robbery at his small grocery store on January 7, 1972. Prosecution witnesses testified that the crime was committed by appellant and two others. These witnesses also testified that appellant entered the store, pretended to purchase some items, and then shot Martin Dobkin. Police witnesses testified that they recovered the murder weapon from appellant's house based on information given to them by him, and that ballistic tests showed that the fatal shots were fired from this weapon. Additionally, the prosecution introduced a formal statement given to the police by appellant in which appellant admitted his participation in the robbery and murder.

Appellant raises several issues which he claims warrant reversal of the trial court's judgment of sentence and require that a new trial be granted. In light of the disposition that follows only one of these questions need be discussed here.

[ 467 Pa. Page 398]

Prior to trial appellant attempted to suppress the statements given to police alleging that they were the product of an unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment in violation of Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 118 (now Pa.R.Crim.P. 130) and Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972) and its progeny.

A brief chronology of the events leading up to appellant's statement to the police will illustrate the merit of his position here. Acting on information received from one Leroy Barnes, who stated that he was with appellant and one other man when appellant robbed and shot Martin Dobkin, police proceeded to appellant's house on March 2, 1972. Finding that appellant was not at home, police left word that they desired to question him regarding this crime.

At 9:00 p. m., March 2, 1972, having heard that the police were looking for him in connection with the robbery and murder at Dobkin's grocery store, appellant appeared at the police station and was taken into custody and placed in an interrogation room. At that time appellant denied involvement in the robbery-homicide. From sometime shortly after 9:00 p. m. until 11:30 p. m., appellant was given a lie detector test. From 11:30 p. m. until 12:00 midnight he was allowed to use the men's room, to eat, and to drink water. From 12:01 a. m., March 3, 1972, until 12:45 a. m., appellant was again interrogated, however, no new information was gained. From 12:45 a. m. until 1:50 a. m., a second lie detector test was conducted. From 1:50 until 3:30 a. m., a "follow-up interrogation" was held during which a short break from 2:20 to 3:00 a. m. was taken to allow appellant to eat. At 3:30 a. m. appellant was left ...


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