Rudolph S. Pallastrone, Geo A. Bachetti, Philadelphia, for appellant.
F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Deborah E. Glass, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., dissents. Pomeroy, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Jones, C. J., and Eagen, J., joined.
Author: O'brien; Roberts; Nix; Manderino
Appellant, Clenzell Gaskins, was convicted by a jury of murder of the first degree for the shooting death of Robert Speakes. After post-trial motions were denied, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. This direct appeal followed.*fn1
While appellant presents several alleged errors for our review, we need only discuss one of them. Gaskins, a juvenile when he was arrested on this charge, argues that certain inculpatory statements given to the
police should be suppressed because he did not have an opportunity to consult with an interested adult or counsel before he waived his Miranda rights.*fn2 Commonwealth v. Stanton, 466 Pa. 143, 351 A.2d 663 (1975); Commonwealth v. Chaney, 465 Pa. 407, 350 A.2d 829 (1975); Commonwealth v. McCutchen, 463 Pa. 90, 343 A.2d 669 (1975); Commonwealth v. Roane, 459 Pa. 389, 329 A.2d 286 (1974). Because we agree with appellant's argument, we reverse and remand for a new trial.
Appellant was sixteen years and eleven months old at the time of his arrest. He was awakened by his mother at 8:20 a. m. and two police officers requested that he go with them because he was wanted for questioning concerning the death of Speakes. Appellant was taken to the Police Administration Building where he was questioned beginning at 9:40 a. m. Prior to this interrogation, Miranda warnings were read to him and he waived his rights. Gaskins gave his first inculpatory statement about 1:18 p. m. and this was followed by a formal confession later that afternoon. No consultation prior to his waiver was permitted at the Police Administration Building.
However, there is a conflict in the record as to whether appellant's mother was told, prior to his departure,
that she could accompany him. According to the police witnesses, she declined such an offer because of the need to care for the younger children at home. There is also a conflict as to whether she was given a phone number by the officers where she could reach her son. Nonetheless, it is clear that Mrs. Gaskins was not called prior to the ...