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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. THOMAS HUGHES (03/23/78)

decided: March 23, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
THOMAS HUGHES, APPELLANT (TWO CASES)



COUNSEL

Anthony F. List, Media, for appellant.

Ralph B. D'Iorio, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Vram Nedurian, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Pomeroy, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Roberts

[ 477 Pa. Page 183]

OPINION OF THE COURT

In 1974, appellant was indicted on charges involving a robbery-murder in a bar in Chester. Appellant's motion to suppress a statement given the police was denied, and he was convicted by a jury of murder of the first degree, aggravated assault, robbery and conspiracy. Following denial of post-verdict motions, the court imposed concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for murder and

[ 477 Pa. Page 184]

    ten to twenty years for robbery, and suspended sentence on the other charges. Appellant contends that the statement was not voluntarily given and that certain comments of the prosecutor and Commonwealth witnesses were prejudicial, depriving him of a fair trial. We affirm.*fn1

I

On January 19, 1974, officers of the Chester Police Department swore out a complaint, based upon the statement of an alleged co-conspirator, charging appellant with murder. The police also obtained a warrant for appellant's arrest. Shortly thereafter, the police arrested appellant at Broadmeadows Prison and advised him of his rights. According to police testimony, appellant, in response to the question whether he desired counsel, replied that "he didn't know right then." The officers did not continue questioning appellant, stating that they would "talk to him" when they "got down to the police station."

The officers and appellant arrived at the police station within half an hour. The police read appellant a form setting out, on a single page, "Your Rights," and "Waiver of Rights." Appellant signed this form, on which was printed: "I do not want a lawyer at this time." Appellant was then confronted with his alleged co-conspirator and that person's statement incriminating appellant. Appellant read the statement, responding, "I didn't shoot anybody." A police officer testified that appellant's next words were that "he

[ 477 Pa. Page 185]

    was not going to make a statement until he could ...


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