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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. KEVIN WILLIAMS (11/18/78)

decided: November 18, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
KEVIN WILLIAMS, APPELLANT



No. 559 January Term, 1976, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Philadelphia, at No. 1675 September Session, 1975

COUNSEL

Frank J. Eustace, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Edward G. Rendell, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Glenn S. Gitomer, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Manderino, J., filed a concurring opinion in which Roberts, J., joins. Larsen, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Eagen, C. J., concurs in the result.

Author: O'brien

[ 483 Pa. Page 295]

OPINION

Appellant, Kevin Williams, was convicted of murder of the first degree in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He appeals the judgment of sentence.

Appellant was charged in connection with the death of James Spinks. The victim, accompanied by a friend, James Norwood, was walking southward on the east side of 32nd Street in Philadelphia between 9:00 and 10:00 p. m. on September 30, 1972. Just after they crossed Berks Street, Spinks was fatally shot from the rear. A .22 caliber bullet entered the right back, passed through the liver, traveled at an angle through the middle of the body, and lodged in the left chest.

On October 14, 1973, a rifle was thrown from a car being chased by Philadelphia police. The car was occupied by four individuals, including one James Davis, all of whom were arrested. Ballistics experts determined that the rifle was

[ 483 Pa. Page 296]

    the one used to shoot Spinks. Appellant did not became a suspect in the shooting until September 5, 1975, when Shelly Knox, who was being questioned about the unrelated killing of a storekeeper, said that appellant told him on October 1, 1972, that he had shot Spinks. Knox said that James Davis was later arrested with the weapon used to murder Spinks. Appellant was arrested at his home without a warrant at 6:35 a. m. on September 6, 1975. He gave a statement to the police in which he said that he broke into a car on the night of the shooting and took a .22 caliber rifle from which he fired a shot toward Spinks and Norwood. He gave the rifle away the next day. He said that he did not know who Spinks and Norwood were at the time of the shooting, but learned the next day that the decedent was someone known to him as "Chuckie," and that he had known the decedent for approximately two years. Appellant later repudiated the statement and attempted to have it suppressed. He testified at trial and denied involvement in the shooting. Appellant was eighteen at the time of the arrest and fifteen at the time of the shooting.

Appellant argues that the evidence does not support the verdict. He claims that neither intent to kill nor malice can properly be inferred from the firing of a shot from a distance toward people appellant did not know. Therefore, in appellant's view, the degree of guilt could not rise higher than voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. He claims to be entitled to a discharge on the basis that the Statute of Limitations barred a manslaughter prosecution. We do not accept appellant's claim. We review the evidence in light of the standard set forth in Commonwealth v. Rose, 463 Pa. 264, 344 A.2d 824 (1975), where we stated that:

"The test of sufficiency of the evidence is whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth and drawing the proper inferences favorable to the Commonwealth, the trier of fact could reasonably have found that all of the elements of the crime had been established beyond a reasonable doubt. . . . Moreover, it is the province of the trier of fact to pass

[ 483 Pa. Page 297]

    upon the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be accorded the evidence produced. . . . The fact-finder is free to believe all, part, or none of the evidence. . . ." (Citations omitted.)

It may be inferred from the evidence that appellant shot the decedent in a vital part of the body, allowing an inference of malice and premeditation. Commonwealth v. O'Searo, 466 Pa. 224, 352 A.2d 30 (1976). The inference may be drawn even if appellant shot the decedent from a distance and did not know him. See Commonwealth v. Kampo, 480 Pa. 516, 391 A.2d 1005 (1978). Appellant's argument that he should be discharged on the basis of the Statute of Limitations for voluntary manslaughter is meritless.

Appellant next argues that the court erred in refusing to suppress his confession. He claims that since he was arrested in his house without a warrant in the absence of exigent circumstances, the arrest was, therefore, violative of the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. He further argues that the confession was a product of the illegal arrest, thereby rendering it inadmissible.

While we have never been confronted with the issue of whether an arrest warrant is required to effectuate a valid arrest inside the arrestee's home,*fn1 said issue has been carefully considered in the various circuit courts. There, various cases have held that because of the Fourth Amendment and the substantial expectation of privacy in one's home, an arrest warrant is required to validly arrest someone in his home unless exigent circumstances exist to justify the warrantless intrusion. United States v. Reed, 572 F.2d 412 (2d Cir. 1978); United States v. Shye, 492 F.2d ...


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