William T. Nicholas, Dist. Atty., Stewart J. Greenleaf, Marc Robert Steinberg, Asst. Dist. Attys., Eric J. Cox, Norristown, for appellant.
William B. Eagan, Willow Grove, for appellee.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
Thomas Carl Jones was charged with murder and numerous related offenses in Montgomery County. He filed motions to suppress evidence of certain statements given by him to police and certain physical evidence seized by the police. Following a hearing on these motions, the Court of Common Pleas by order dated November 6, 1975 suppressed evidence of a .38 caliber gun taken by the police from Jones' possession and evidence of statements made by Jones to the police on April 6, 1975. The Commonwealth filed this appeal from that order. We now affirm.
The relevant facts as established at the suppression hearing are as follows:
On April 3, 1975, at approximately 1:11 p. m., the Norristown police, in response to a phone call, went to 1002 Sterigere Street, Norristown, where the dead body of Eleanor Friday reportedly had been discovered by Jones, her nephew. She had apparently been beaten with a blunt instrument. The police interviewed Jones on April 3rd.
On April 4, 1975, when the police sought Jones at his residence for further questioning, they discovered he had fled the area. The police also learned various facts which resulted in the issuance of a warrant for Jones' arrest for theft of movable property, 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3125, namely, a .38 caliber revolver. Notice that an arrest warrant was outstanding against Jones was transmitted to the National Crime Information Center [NCIC].
On April 6, 1975, shortly after 7:00 a. m., Corporal Herbert Hoffman of the Missouri State Highway Patrol saw Jones apparently*fn1 hitchhiking west on Interstate Highway 44 in Rolla, Missouri. Hoffman proceeded to the police station without encountering Jones. At about 8:30 a. m. on the
same day, Hoffman again observed Jones; but, in this instance, Jones was walking south about three miles from where he was first observed, on United States Route Number 63 which intersects Interstate 44. During both observations, Jones was without luggage. Hoffman, in uniform, stopped his vehicle, a marked police car, and asked Jones for identification. Jones handed Hoffman an identification card and Hoffman then "asked [Jones] to have a seat in the patrol car." Hoffman radioed to have a check on Jones run through the NCIC. While the check was being made, Hoffman and Jones engaged in "general conversation." Hoffman testified that Jones was free to leave before the results of the NCIC check were obtained. From the check, Hoffman learned of the outstanding arrest warrant.
Hoffman then asked Jones to step out of the car and Jones complied. As Jones did so, he held his hand up and informed Hoffman he had a weapon. Hoffman then searched Jones and obtained a .38 caliber gun. Hoffman advised Jones he was under arrest for carrying a concealed weapon and also advised him of ...