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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. HUGH SINCLAIR WILLIAMS (01/26/78)

decided: January 26, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
HUGH SINCLAIR WILLIAMS, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Thomas B. Rutter, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., James A. Shellenberger, Eric B. Henson, Asst. Dist. Attys., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Manderino, J., joins.

Author: O'brien

[ 476 Pa. Page 346]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Hugh Sinclair Williams, was tried by a judge and jury on July 26, 1974, and was convicted of murder of the first degree, assault with intent to kill and possession of explosives. Post-verdict motions were denied, and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder conviction, with consecutive five-to-ten-year terms for the other two convictions. This direct appeal followed.*fn1

Appellant's convictions arise from the shooting death of a Philadelphia policeman and the serious wounding of another. Appellant was originally convicted by a jury in 1972, but on appeal, we reversed and granted a new trial. Commonwealth v. Williams, 455 Pa. 569, 319 A.2d 419 (1974). It is from the judgments of sentence in the retrial that appellant now appeals.

Appellant raises two issues on this appeal, both of which relate to the admissibility of his confession. Appellant first

[ 476 Pa. Page 347]

    argues that the trial court erred in allowing the introduction of an oral confession allegedly obtained in violation of Pa.R.Crim.P. 130 and our decision in Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972). Alternatively, appellant argues that the confession should have been suppressed because it was involuntary. We find no merit in either contention and affirm the judgments of sentence.

The facts surrounding the confession are as follows. Appellant was arrested on August 29, 1970, at 8:30 p. m., a few blocks from where the shootings occurred. While resisting arrest, appellant was struck by one officer and bitten by a police dog during a brief struggle of approximately twenty seconds duration. Appellant was taken to Misercordia Hospital, where the injured patrolman was unable to identify appellant as one of the assailants. While at the hospital, appellant refused treatment for his injuries.

Appellant arrived at the Police Administration Building at 9:15 p. m. Because the officer in charge of the interrogation was not present at the time, questioning was not commenced until 10:30 p. m., when appellant was given his Miranda rights, which he waived. The first interrogation lasted until 11:15 p. m. Appellant was then questioned for three periods totaling two hours and ten minutes before finally admitting complicity in the shootings at 3:00 a. m. Subsequently, a written confession was completed at 9:15 p. m. the following day, and appellant was then arraigned at 11:30 p. m.

At the original trial, the formal written confession was introduced into evidence. We held, however, that the confession, given twenty-four hours after arrest, was the product of unnecessary delay. We therefore granted appellant a new trial. Commonwealth v. Williams, supra. At that time, we expressed no opinion ...


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