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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. BENJAMIN SMITH (04/28/77)

decided: April 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
BENJAMIN SMITH, APPELLANT



COUNSEL

Vincent J. Ziccardi, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case. Pomeroy, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Eagen, C. J., joined.

Author: Manderino

[ 472 Pa. Page 416]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Benjamin Smith, a seventeen year old juvenile, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. Prior to trial, appellant moved to suppress three statements made by him to police. The first statement was made during interrogation which began about an hour after appellant's

[ 472 Pa. Page 417]

    arrest, and which concluded about two hours after the arrest. The second statement was made during interrogation which began about eight and one-quarter hours after appellant's arrest and which concluded about ten hours after the arrest. The third statement was made during interrogation which began about twelve hours after arrest and which concluded about fourteen hours after arrest. The trial court suppressed the third statement because it was the result of an unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment in violation of Pa.R.Crim.P. 118 (now Rule 130). The trial court, however, refused to suppress the first two statements. These statements were later introduced into evidence during appellant's trial. In post-verdict motions and in this appeal, appellant contends that the second statement should have been suppressed because it, too, was the result of an unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment. No issue is raised in this appeal concerning the admissibility of the first statement. We agree that the second statement should also have been suppressed. The judgment of sentence is therefore reversed and a new trial granted.

The police arrested appellant at his home at 8:20 a. m., on November 11, 1971. He was taken to police head-quarters, arriving there at 8:40 a. m. Questioning began at 9:25 a. m., at which time appellant was given Miranda warnings. This initial questioning period concluded at 10:15 a. m. During this questioning appellant admitted that he was a member of a certain neighborhood gang but denied any involvement in the killing for which he had been arrested. Appellant also told police interrogators that he had been home in bed at the time of the killing. From 10:15 a. m., until 4:25 p. m., appellant remained in the building, ate lunch, used the restrooms, and spoke with friends who were also there to be questioned concerning the killing. Appellant was questioned again from 4:35 p. m., until 6:30 p. m. Sometime during

[ 472 Pa. Page 418]

    the questioning period commencing at 4:35 p. m., appellant was told by police that another suspect had named him as a participant in the killing. At some point thereafter, appellant admitted his involvement in the crime. Appellant was questioned for a third time, from 8:20 p. m., until 10:30 p. m., and signed a written confession. This written statement was suppressed prior to trial and was not introduced into evidence. Only the oral statement made between 4:35 p. m., and 6:30 p. m., is at issue in this appeal.

We have repeatedly held "pre-arraignment delay unnecessary unless required to administratively process an accused." Commonwealth v. Williams, 455 Pa. 569, 573, 319 A.2d 419, 421 (1974); Commonwealth v. Dixon, 454 Pa. 444, 311 A.2d 613 (1973). Furthermore,

"Rule 118 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure [now Rule 130] and our decision in Futch, supra, are specifically designed to put a stop to the practice of arresting an individual and holding him during a lengthy period ...


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