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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. LEROY WASHINGTON (10/20/78)

decided: October 20, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
LEROY WASHINGTON, APPELLANT



No. 250 October Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, of Philadelphia County, at Nos. 859-870 April Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

Norman Ackerman, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Assistant District Attorney, and Edward G. Rendell, District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Jacobs, President Judge, and Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, Spaeth and Hester, JJ. Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 409]

Appellant contends that the lower court erred in admitting his confession because it was: 1) obtained during an unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment in violation of Pa.R.Crim.P. 130, 2) involuntary, and 3) the fruit of a warrantless arrest which lacked probable cause. We disagree and, therefore, affirm the judgments of sentence.

On February 18, 1977, Detective Joseph Bross of the Philadelphia Police Department arrested appellant without warrant for the February 16, 1977 robbery of Frederick Peaster and his family. Bross charged appellant with possession of instruments of a crime,*fn1 possession of weapons,*fn2 three counts of robbery,*fn3 burglary,*fn4 conspiracy,*fn5 simple assault,*fn6 and resisting arrest.*fn7 On May 11, 1977, appellant filed a motion to suppress his confession as well as all identifications and physical evidence seized. On June 10, 1977, the lower court conducted a suppression hearing. At this hearing, Officer Charles Geist testified that on February 16, 1977, he saw appellant chasing Mr. Peaster, who was shouting that appellant had robbed him. Officer Geist arrested appellant, but appellant escaped within minutes. Officer Geist provided the following description of appellant: Negro male, 25-30 years old, bulgy eyes, green Army fatigue jacket, and dark pants. Mr. Peaster, the robbery victim and a long time friend of appellant, added the following details: name Big Wash, six feet tall, dark complexion, large lips, mustache, and white sneakers.

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 410]

Detective Bross testified that two days after the robbery and two to four hours prior to his arrest of appellant, a confidential informant told police appellant's whereabouts. Detective Bross staked out the area and watched appellant arrive by cab at the location and time the informant had designated. Detective Bross noticed that appellant's height, mustache, jacket, and pants matched the descriptions given by Officer Geist and Mr. Peaster. As he approached appellant with his gun drawn, Detective Bross observed more of appellant's features and concluded that they matched the descriptions. After a brief verbal exchange, appellant identified himself as Leroy Washington.

Detective Bross arrested appellant at 1:05 a. m. and transported him by police van to the Police Administration Building, where he arrived at 1:45 a. m. Detectives Bross and Formicola started their interview of appellant at 1:55 a. m.*fn8 At 1:58 a. m., they gave appellant Miranda warnings. Bross testified that appellant indicated he understood the warnings and wanted to make a statement without assistance of counsel. Appellant signed a waiver form and almost immediately thereafter made a statement in which he admitted his part in the February 16, 1977 robbery. He concluded his statement at 3:15 a. m., and read and signed it by 3:37 a. m. The police did not question appellant further concerning the robbery. At approximately 7:35 a. m., appellant was arraigned.

At the suppression hearing, appellant testified that one of the interrogating officers hit him repeatedly with a blackjack, thus forcing him to sign the waiver form and the confession. The police testified that no one struck or threatened appellant at any time between arrest and arraignment. After hearing the conflicting testimony of appellant and the police, the lower court refused to suppress appellant's confession.

Following a non-jury trial on June 17, 1977, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, the lower court found appellant guilty ...


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