Robert P. Grim, Reading, for appellant.
Grant E. Wesner, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Charles M. Guthrie, Reading, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., and Eagen and Pomeroy, JJ., concur in the result.
On May 17, 1974, after a jury trial, appellant Jeffrey L. Farley was convicted of murder of the first degree. The court imposed sentence of life imprisonment. Appellant appealed claiming that certain written and oral statements secured from him while in police custody
should have been suppressed.*fn1 We agree, reverse the judgment of sentence and remand for a new trial.*fn2
Appellant's conviction arose from a robbery and shooting of the proprietor of Timber's Variety Store in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 1972. The proprietor died a week later as a result of gunshot wounds received during the robbery. Appellant, a sixteen year old with an I.Q. of 70, was first contacted by Reading police at approximately 4:00 p. m., on November 7, when Officer Charles Hymon stopped appellant on the street. Hymon, who was investigating a gun incident unrelated to this case, asked appellant whether he was carrying a weapon. Appellant stated that he was unarmed. Hymon requested appellant to accompany him to the officer's home, which was nearby. Apparently, numerous other neighborhood residents joined the two and a discussion ensued in front of Hymon's home concerning a recent neighborhood fight.
Hymon decided that he needed assistance in handling what he described as a "neighborhood squabble" and called city hall. Uniformed police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter, and several people, including appellant, were then transported by police car to the police station for questioning. Hymon stated at the suppression hearing that, in his view, appellant had committed no crime in the officer's presence and that appellant had not been placed under arrest prior to being taken to city hall.
Appellant arrived at city hall at approximately 4:30 p. m., and was questioned by Officer Ronald Mest of the juvenile
division. Mest testified that appellant was detained for questioning concerning the unrelated gun possession incident which had been the subject of appellant's initial stop. The officer did not question appellant concerning the "neighborhood squabble" which occasioned the detention. Appellant again denied possessing any firearm.
At approximately 5:30 p. m., Officer Stratton Marmarou and, shortly thereafter, Officer Joseph Orlando arrived from the detective division and began to interrogate appellant. Marmarou testified that, after being given his Miranda warnings, appellant admitted his involvement in numerous armed robberies in the city. Orlando testified that he told appellant that the police suspected him of being involved in the robbery-murder that is the subject of this appeal. At approximately 6:00 p. m., ...