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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DONALD WILLIAMS (09/27/76)

decided: September 27, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DONALD WILLIAMS, APPELLANT



Appeal from Judgment of Sentence Imposed June 23, 1975 of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, of Philadelphia County, at No. 720 February Term, 1975. No. 1618 October Term, 1975.

COUNSEL

John W. Packel, Asst. Public Defender, Chief, Appeals Div., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Philadelphia, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ.

Author: Cercone

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 389]

This is a direct appeal from a judgment of sentence entered by the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Philadelphia County. Appellant was convicted of conspiracy in a non-jury trial. Post-verdict motions were timely filed and denied.

Appellant first contends that the court erred in admitting into evidence a statement he made while in police

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 390]

    custody, admitting his presence at the scene of the robbery that was the basis of the conspiracy charge.*fn1

Appellant was taken into custody at 12:05 A.M on January 23, 1975. He was taken to the North Central Detective Division in Philadelphia, where an interview began at 1:33 A.M. The investigating officer read him his Miranda*fn2 rights, which appellant stated that he understood. He was asked, "Do you want to remain silent?" He answered, "No, I'll tell you what went down," and then proceeded to narrate his participation in a robbery. He was asked if he would make a signed statement. According to the officer "He indicated that he ain't signing nothing."

It is now urged, as it was in the court below, that appellant's unwillingness to sign anything indicates that his understanding of his rights was defective and that his waiver was thus invalid. We disagree.

In Commonwealth v. Martin, Pa., 348 A.2d 391 (1975), where the defendant agreed to give an oral statement, but refused to sign the "Miranda rights" waiver form, the Court stated:

"We do not doubt that in some situations a refusal of a person being questioned to sign a waiver form, even though followed by an apparent willingness to allow further questioning, can be indicative of confusion or ignorance such as to require the police to seek additional assurances of intelligence and understanding before proceeding further. [Citations omitted.] In other situations the absence of a written waiver has not been thought to vitiate oral statements. [Citations ...


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