No. 156 April Term, 1976 Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. 7500969A.
John J. Dean, John R. Cook, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Louis R. Paulick, Thomas M. Lilly, Asst. Dist. Attys., Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Price and Van der Voort, JJ., dissent.
[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 74]
Appellant contends that he was arrested without probable cause and that a subsequent on-the-scene identification should have been suppressed as the fruit of the illegal arrest.
At about 6:40 p. m., on January 21, 1975, Officers Tomasko and Hajduk of the Pittsburgh Police Department received a radio call that a purse snatching had just taken place on Second Avenue, near Tripton Street, in the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh. The only description given in the radio call was that the suspect was a black youth, about fourteen-years-old, wearing a short, blue-denim jacket. At the subsequent suppression hearing, the officers testified that, immediately prior
[ 241 Pa. Super. Page 75]
to the radio call, they had passed two men who appeared to be "eyeballing a store which . . . they were possibly going to hold up." When they heard the description of the purse-snatch suspect, the officers believed that one of the two men whom they had just seen fit the broadcast description. After circling the block, the officers stopped the two men, one of whom was not detained. Appellant was arrested and taken to the scene of the purse-snatch, two blocks away. The victim of the purse-snatch identified appellant while he was still in the police vehicle.
Appellant was subsequently indicted at No. 0969A March Sessions, 1975, on a charge of robbery.*fn1 On May 7, 1975, appellant made an oral motion to suppress the identification evidence as the product of an illegal arrest. Although the motion was not timely made, see Pa.R.Crim.P. 323(b), the district attorney waived objections and the court heard the motion. The motion was denied. Immediately thereafter, appellant waived his right to a jury and proceeded to trial before the suppression court. The court found appellant guilty of robbery. Post-trial motions were subsequently filed and denied; on July 9, 1975, the court sentenced appellant to a term of imprisonment of five to ten years. This appeal followed.
Appellant raises only one issue: whether "the identification of appellant by the victim of a purse snatching was unconstitutional and should have been suppressed because the identification was made after appellant was arrested without probable cause."
The test to be applied to determine whether probable cause exists has been stated frequently: "The crucial test is whether there were facts available at the time of the initial apprehension which would justify a man ...