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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES LLOYD SMITH (01/28/77)

decided: January 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES LLOYD SMITH, JR., APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Francis J. Moran, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Arlen Specter, Dist. Atty., Richard A. Sprague, 1st Asst. Dist. Atty., David Richman, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Maxine J. Stotland, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 470 Pa. Page 221]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Following a jury trial, James Lloyd Smith, Jr. was convicted of murder of the first degree. Post-verdict motions were denied by the court en banc and judgment of sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. Smith appealed from the judgment of sentence, asserting seven assignments of error. We need only consider two since, for the reasons stated herein, we reverse the judgment of sentence and order a new trial.*fn1

[ 470 Pa. Page 222]

At trial, the Commonwealth introduced into evidence a number of incriminatory statements given to police by Smith. Smith asserts that the court's failure to suppress the statements was error because the statements were not the product of a rational intellect and free will, that is, they were involuntarily given.

It is well-established that on review from a finding of voluntariness, we must consider the Commonwealth's evidence and so much of the evidence presented by an accused as remains uncontradicted. Commonwealth v. Johnson, 467 Pa. 146, 354 A.2d 886 (1976); Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 429 Pa. 141, 239 A.2d 426 (1968). So viewed, the evidence established the following:

In late June of 1971, Smith attempted suicide by cutting his wrist. This attempt did not require hospitalization. Thereafter, on July 1, 1971, Smith's wife, Vernita, found him unconscious. Smith was hospitalized at Women's Medical College Hospital in a comatose state which had resulted from an overdose of sleeping pills. Smith's stomach was pumped and he was also treated for a cut on his wrist which had resulted from the first attempted suicide. Smith remained in this hospital overnight but, on July 2, 1971, at 1:00 p. m., Smith discharged himself against the advice of the hospital personnel.

Thereafter, Vernita took Smith to her grandmother's residence where he remained for three to four hours during which time he evidenced nervousness although he slept for a brief period of fifteen minutes. On the advice

[ 470 Pa. Page 223]

    of his wife, Smith then went to the emergency ward of the Philadelphia General Hospital, where he consulted a psychiatrist. On the advice of the psychiatrist, Smith reported to that hospital's out-patient mental health clinic where he and his wife apparently arranged for future treatments on an out-patient basis. Smith and his wife were then prepared to leave the hospital when the police arrived and ...


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