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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JERRY HOLMES (10/08/76)

decided: October 8, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JERRY HOLMES, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Stewart A. Bernstein, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

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

Author: Roberts

[ 468 Pa. Page 410]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On April 24, 1974, appellant Jerry Holmes pleaded guilty to murder generally. The Commonwealth certified

[ 468 Pa. Page 411]

    that the charge rose no higher than murder of the second degree and agreed to an entry of a nolle prosequi on other charges pending against appellant. The court accepted the guilty plea and imposed a sentence of nine to twenty years imprisonment. No direct appeal was filed by appellant's trial counsel. On October 18, 1974, appellant filed a pro se PCHA*fn1 petition alleging that his plea was involuntary and that his trial counsel had been ineffective. The PCHA court appointed counsel for appellant and held hearings on March 6 and June 11, 1975. PCHA relief was denied on June 24, 1975, and this appeal ensued.*fn2 We reverse and remand for a new trial.

Appellant contends that his guilty plea was involuntary because the elements of the crime charged against him were not adequately explained as required by Pa.R.Crim.P. 319(a)*fn3 and Commonwealth v. Ingram, 455 Pa. 198, 316 A.2d 77 (1974). The record shows that the following exchanges were the sole explanations of the elements of murder:

"Q. [By the court] Do you know that Murder is a malicious killing and that in this case you are charged with a felony murder, and that is there was a plan, a conspiracy to rob Reverend Morris and that any killing resulting from this, whether intentional or rational amounts to a felony murder in the first degree.

[ 468 Pa. Page 412]

"A. [By appellant] Yes, sir.

"Q. [By the assistant district attorney] . . . . Murder is an unlawful killing defined by malice. You are charged as a principal, that is, one who is guilty of murder. But it will be the Commonwealth's theory that you were not the shooter, that you conspired to rob that store . . . but in the eyes of the law a ...


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