No. 116 January Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section of Philadelphia County on Nos. 767, 770-773, February Session, 1975.
Michael J. Stack, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.
Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Michael Stiles, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts, Nix and Manderino, JJ., concur in the result.
Following a jury trial, in July of 1975, the appellant, Joseph Lewis, was convicted of five separate counts of
murder of the first degree. Post verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to five concurrent terms of life imprisonment. This direct appeal followed.
The evidence*fn1 produced at trial established that on the night of January 5, 1975, the appellant shot and killed five men. Several hours prior to the occurrence of the murders, appellant had lost money while gambling with Robert Long, one of the murder victims. The appellant believed that Long was guilty of cheating him while they were gambling. Appellant, armed with a gun, located Long and four other individuals in a house across the street from the residence where he had been gambling. A witness who was on the second floor of the house when appellant entered, testified at trial that she could hear the men downstairs arguing. According to her testimony, the argument was followed immediately by the sounds of several shots being fired. The police found four bodies inside the house, and one body laying on the street near to the house. Each victim had suffered a single fatal gunshot wound. Early the next morning, appellant fled to Georgia. A federal fugitive flight warrant*fn2 was issued and appellant was arrested by federal agents in Georgia on January 15, 1975. On January 17, the appellant waived extradition proceedings and was returned to Philadelphia to stand trial.
Appellant's first contention is that his statement admitting the killing of the five victims should have been suppressed because he was arrested without probable cause. It is a firmly established principle of law that probable cause exists where "the facts and circumstances within the arresting officers' knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information, were sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief" that the
suspect had committed or is committing a crime. McCray v. Illinois, 386 U.S. 300, at 304, 87 S.Ct. 1056, at 1059, 18 L.Ed.2d 62 (1967); Commonwealth v. Carter, 444 Pa. 405, at 409-10, 282 A.2d 375, at 377 (1971). In this case, the police detective who applied for appellant's arrest warrant provided extensive testimony at the suppression hearing which clearly established probable cause. The officer reviewed in detail information ...