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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT MORTON (12/01/77)

decided: December 1, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT MORTON, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Lawrence S. Rosenwald, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

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

Author: O'brien

[ 475 Pa. Page 377]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Robert Morton, was tried by a judge sitting without a jury and convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of Robert Sholer. He was also convicted of possession of an instrument of crime. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to three-to-ten years' imprisonment on the manslaughter conviction, with a concurrent one-and-one-half-to-three-year sentence for the weapons conviction. This direct appeal followed.*fn1

Appellant claims the court below erred in refusing to suppress a confession which he had given to police. Appellant argues that the statement was the product of unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment and thus violative of Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 130 and our decision in Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972). We agree and must, therefore, reverse the judgments of sentence.

The facts are as follows. On December 1, 1974, at 11:25 p. m., the Philadelphia police responded to a radio call reporting a shooting at 5225 Schuyler Street. Upon arrival, the police saw appellant and a woman, Linda Lewis, standing inside the apartment entrance. Police observed the victim's body, which was immediately taken to Germantown Hospital.

[ 475 Pa. Page 378]

When questioned, appellant told police that the victim had been shot when a blue Cadillac El Dorado, with two black males in it, had driven by and fired a single shot. Appellant claimed that he, the victim, Ms. Lewis and Larry DeVore had been walking home from a funeral home when the shooting occurred.

A homicide detective at the scene ordered a uniformed officer to take appellant to the Police Administration Building. Before appellant was placed in the back of the police van, an officer patted appellant down and discovered five spent .32 caliber shells in his pocket. Appellant was handcuffed, placed in the back of the van, and taken to police headquarters, where he arrived at 1:10 a. m.

Appellant was given his Miranda warnings and was then intermittently questioned until 8:07 a. m. During this same period, police were questioning DeVore, Ms. Lewis, and two black males who had been picked up driving a blue Cadillac fitting the description given by appellant. During this entire period, appellant denied any involvement in the homicide.

Between 8:00 a. m. and 10:00 a. m., both Ms. Lewis and DeVore gave statements which accused appellant of shooting the victim. Appellant was confronted with these statements at 10:04 a. m. Following the readministering of the Miranda warnings, appellant gave an inculpatory statement, ...


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