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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GERALD WATERS (03/23/78)

decided: March 23, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GERALD WATERS, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Ronald J. Brockington, Philadelphia, for appellant.

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts, J., joins this opinion and files a concurring opinion. Manderino, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 477 Pa. Page 431]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Gerald Waters, appellant, was arrested and charged with various offenses stemming from the killing of Eric Johnson which occurred on March 8, 1975, in Philadelphia County. After a trial without a jury, the defendant was adjudged guilty of murder of the third degree,*fn1 criminal conspiracy,*fn2

[ 477 Pa. Page 432]

    and possessing an instrument of crime.*fn3 Post-trial motions were heard and denied and a sentence of ten to twenty years was imposed on the murder indictment. Concurrent sentences were imposed on the lesser charges. In this direct appeal from all of the judgments of sentence, appellant seeks relief upon the single ground that his inculpatory statement was improperly admitted because of an unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment. In response, in addition to addressing the merits of the claim for relief, the Commonwealth asserted that review of the merits of this contention is barred under Commonwealth v. Blair, 460 Pa. 31, 331 A.2d 213 (1975). We agree that appellant has failed to preserve the issue and affirm the judgment of sentence.*fn4

Post-verdict motions were filed on September 17, 1975, approximately nine months after our decision in Blair. The motions were of the boiler-plate variety challenging the weight and sufficiency of the evidence. In addition, the motions contained a request that leave be granted for the filing of supplemental reasons after the transcription of the record. Thereafter, appellant made no effort to offer an amendment or supplement to the original motions filed. The opinion of the trial judge states that the sole issue argued on post-verdict consideration was the alleged violation of Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 130. Thus, the decisive question to be considered is whether the fact that the issue was presented orally before the court below justifies ignoring the admonition given by this Court in Blair.

In Blair, this Court announced that it expected strict compliance with that provision of Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 1123(a) which required that "only those issues raised and the grounds relied upon in the [post-verdict] motions may be argued." To enforce this mandate, we directed that trial courts and appellate courts decline to

[ 477 Pa. Page 433]

    consider claims that were not specifically set forth in the written post-trial motions.

Appellant's written post-trial motions were boiler plate challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence. Although counsel apparently made more specific oral motions that were considered by the court, the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, rule ...


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