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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CURTIS SANDERS (11/22/78)

decided: November 22, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
CURTIS SANDERS, APPELLANT



No. 2405 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Trial Division, Criminal Sections, Imposed on Bill Nos. 1055-1056, May Sessions, 1976.

COUNSEL

Richard P. Hunter, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Eric B. Henson, 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. Jacobs, President Judge, concurs in the result. Spaeth, J., files a concurring opinion. Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Hester

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 361]

This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Appellant was convicted of burglary and criminal conspiracy and thereafter filed Post-Verdict Motions which were denied. A sentence of 2-10 years was imposed. This appeal followed.

Appellant initially argues that the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss informations for failure of the Philadelphia police to proceed diligently with his arrest. Appellant presented this motion (commonly called a "Ross Motion") prior to trial and a hearing was held thereon.

The criminal incident in this case took place on October 24, 1975, when Mary Jackson was brutally raped in her apartment in North Philadelphia. The victim identified the appellant as being in her apartment during the rape, at a photographic display immediately after the crime. Donald Snelling, who was apprehended shortly after the crime and charged with rape, also identified appellant as being in the apartment during the rape. However, appellant was not arrested until May 4, 1976.

Appellant asserts that the long delay between the date of the alleged crime and his arrest was a result of a lack luster effort by the Philadelphia police and that delay, caused appellant severe prejudice, in that he was unable to recall any of his actions on the day the crime was committed and therefore was unable to adequately defend himself.

In order to determine whether the Commonwealth has unreasonably delayed the arrest of a suspect after occurrence of the criminal event, we must balance the reasonableness of the delay against the prejudice to the

[ 260 Pa. Super. Page 362]

    defendant. Ross v. United States, 121 U.S.App.D.C. 233, 349 F.2d 210 (1965). Commonwealth v. De Rose, 225 Pa. Super. 8, 307 A.2d 425 (1973).

At the hearing held prior to trial, to determine the cause of the delay, four Philadelphia police officers testified as to their actions relative to the apprehension of the appellant. Officer Ligato testified that on October 24, 1975, the victim made a complaint that someone named "Donnie" had raped her and that someone named "Lee" was also present. The victim then led Officer Ligato and Detective Hall to a house on Brown Street where "Donnie" Snelling lived. Officer Ligato and Detective Hall than arrested Snelling on a charge of rape following a positive I.D. by the victim. Officer Ligato then took the victim back to Central Detectives where she viewed a book of photographs of black males. She picked out Curtis Lee Sanders' picture and positively identified him as one who was involved in the rape. Officer Ligato then let Snelling look at the pictures and he identified Sanders as being in the room at the time of the rape. Officer ...


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