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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM DICKERSON (TWO CASES) (10/08/76)

decided: October 8, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
WILLIAM DICKERSON (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Maxine J. Stotland, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Cecil B. Moore, Philadelphia for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Manderino, J., joins. Eagen, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Jones

[ 468 Pa. Page 601]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal*fn1 by the Commonwealth from

[ 468 Pa. Page 602]

    the Order of Judge Juanita Kidd Stout of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia County suppressing the confession of William Dickerson, appellee, as the result of an unconstitutional arrest.

On October 5, 1974, at 4:45 p. m. William Askew, age seventeen, was stabbed to death in the rear yard of a home on Wyoming Avenue in Philadelphia. That same evening, Detective Porter, twice went to appellee's home in an attempt to question him concerning the stabbing. Appellee was not home and Porter left word with his mother asking that appellee come to Police Headquarters for questioning. On October 6, appellee went to the Headquarters and after questioning was released. Two days later, appellee was taken to Headquarters by police officers for a second round of questioning. After nine hours of intermittent interrogation, appellee was released.

Detective Porter then directed his investigative efforts elsewhere. On October 9, he interviewed William Fowler, age fourteen, and Ronald Allen, age eighteen. Both witnesses gave a signed written statement, wherein they each recounted that fifteen minutes prior to the killing, they saw Dickerson, Askew, and Michael Beatty walking together in the direction where the stabbing occurred.

Michael Beatty, age nineteen, was then questioned on October 14. He was given his Miranda warnings and agreed to answer questions. The first interrogation resulted in a statement which Detective Porter characterized as incomplete and false based upon other information already gathered. Beatty then consented to a polygraph examination, the results of which seemed to confirm Porter's suspicions. Beatty was interviewed a second time and gave a four page statement which he read and signed. This statement stated that Beatty had witnessed Dickerson stab Askew and corroborated portions of other information Porter had in his possession. Beatty was later charged with hindering apprehension or

[ 468 Pa. Page 603]

    prosecution, this based upon his first falsified statement. However, Beatty was not charged as a co-defendant.

In addition to the above information, Porter had gathered signed statements from three other people who knew appellee. Each witness said he or she had heard that the appellee had stabbed Askew.*fn2

[ 468 Pa. Page 604]

Armed with the statements of six identified witnesses: (1) two of whom placed the appellee and the eyewitness with the victim near the scene of the crime just prior to the stabbing; (2) three of whom had heard that the appellee had committed the stabbing, and (3) the statement of an eyewitness who said he saw the appellee stab Askew, Porter applied to Judge Wood for an arrest warrant. Judge Wood issued the warrant and Dickerson was arrested on October 17, 1974, at 1:10 p. m. Dickerson arrived at Homicide Headquarters at 1:35 p. m. and after receiving his Miranda ...


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