Mead S. Spurio, Philadelphia, for appellant.
F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Adrian L. DiLuzio, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Nix, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case. Pomeroy, J., concurs in the result.
On July 5, 1973, Mrs. Dorothy Hallowell was found murdered in her sister's home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Appellant, William Kern Hallowell, the son of the deceased, was arrested on July 6, 1973, and charged with the murder, burglary and aggravated robbery. Also arrested and similarly charged with these crimes was Charles Way, appellant's roommate at the time. Following a jury trial, appellant was found guilty of murder in the first degree and aggravated robbery for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment and a term of ten to twenty years imprisonment, respectively. Appellant appeals from both sentences.
At trial, the Commonwealth produced co-defendant Charles Way, who testified as the only eyewitness to the killing and robbery. Way's testimony was critical to the Commonwealth's case against appellant. Way testified that on the evening of July 1, 1973, appellant had called him and asked Way to help him kill his mother. Way and appellant accompanied the deceased to her sister's home whereupon appellant attacked his mother, striking her four or five times with a hammer until she was in a state of semiconsciousness. (The deceased died from these injuries.) Appellant then, according to Way's testimony, proceeded to search the house for valuables, emptied the contents of deceased's purse on a table and removed some credit cards therefrom. Appellant then took a television set from the house to make it appear as if vandals had perpetrated the crime.
On cross-examination, defense counsel sought to discredit Way's testimony by questioning him in regards to expectations of leniency in his own criminal prosecution that may have been made to him by the Commonwealth in return for his cooperation in testifying at appellant's trial. Way consistently denied that he had any expectations of leniency in
his own case and explained he was testifying in order to "clear it all up".
Subsequently, the defense called Edward Rendell, Esquire, who had been chief of the homicide division of the district attorney's office until about six weeks prior to trial. Rendell was asked if he knew if any leniency had been extended to Way in connection with this case. Rendell replied that as chief of homicide it would be his decision to extend any leniency in any form whatsoever to any witness or co-defendant, and stated unequivocally there had been no offer of any leniency whatsoever made to Way, either from himself or from his subordinates. The next day upon questioning by the Court, Rendell explained that he had recommended reduced bail for Way and requested that no detainer be lodged against him. Rendell testified that the purpose in so doing was to allow Way to remain out of jail until appellant's trial so that Way would not be subjected to pressure from other inmates which might induce him to refuse to testify. This testimony clearly conveyed the concept that the only leniency offered Way was related to the bail and the detainer.
After appellant's trial and conviction on April 11, 1974, a sentencing hearing was held for Way on December 5, 1975. At the sentencing, Way testified that there had been indications from the day of his arrest, and prior to his making any statement to the police, that the Commonwealth would recommend a lesser sentence for Way's cooperation in appellant's trial. Way further testified that as a result of the representations made to him by Mr. Rendell and by his defense counsel, he did in fact cooperate with the Commonwealth by testifying at the preliminary hearing and trial of appellant.
The attorneys for the district attorney's office at the sentencing hearing corroborated Way's testimony. They told the Court that a plea had been negotiated with Way whereby Way would plead to murder in the second degree "and the Commonwealth would recommend a ...