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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. KEVIN VAN CLIFF (01/24/79)

decided: January 24, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
KEVIN VAN CLIFF, APPELLANT



No. 343 January Term, 1975, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Philadelphia, as of February Term, 1973, No. 792.

COUNSEL

Nino V. Tinari, 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., William C. Turnoff, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Mr. Justice O'Brien and Former Justice Pomeroy did not participate in the decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 483 Pa. Page 579]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Kevin Van Cliff was tried before a jury and convicted of murder of the first degree, aggravated robbery, and conspiracy in connection with the slaying of Howard Anderson. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on the murder bill and a concurrent term of five to fifteen years imprisonment on the aggravated robbery charge. Sentence was suspended on the conspiracy conviction. Appellant appeals only from the judgment of sentence for murder.*fn1 Appellant contends that certain comments made by the prosecuting attorney in closing argument were so prejudicial as to deny appellant his right to a fair and impartial trial and that appellant's oral and written inculpatory statements were inadmissible products of unnecessary delay between arrest and arraignment. These claims are without merit and we affirm.*fn2

[ 483 Pa. Page 580]

I

Appellant was arrested in his home at 7:10 p. m. on December 10, 1972. Police took appellant to the Police Administration Building and placed him in an interrogation room. Appellant sat in the room with his uncle from 7:35 until 8:30 when police entered to obtain preliminary information. At 8:45, appellant was given Miranda warnings. Appellant then made an oral inculpatory statement which he completed at 9:45. The police gave appellant a polygraph examination from 10:21 until 11:15. At 11:25, after again receiving Miranda warnings, appellant made a formal statement in which he reiterated his prior oral statement. The statement was completed at 12:25 p. m. on December 11, 1972. After he read the statement into a tape recorder,*fn3 appellant was placed in a cellroom for the night. He was arraigned at 10:00 p. m. on December 11.

At trial, Commonwealth witnesses testified that on December 6, 1972, appellant Van Cliff and four other youths (Terry Purdie, Fred Young, Al Gilmore, and Paul Hayes) were in a luncheonette at 28th and Wharton Streets in Philadelphia when Howard Anderson entered. Two of the boys decided to "get" Anderson and told the others of their plan. When Anderson left the luncheonette all five youths followed him, passed him, and waited around the corner of 28th and Titan Streets. As Anderson turned the corner, Young told him to give up his money. Purdie hit Anderson after which appellant and Young kicked him. Gilmore then fatally stabbed Anderson.

The central issue at trial was whether appellant had entered into the conspiracy. Appellant testified that he neither entered into an agreement to rob Anderson nor ...


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