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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES C. WILLIAMS (04/18/79)

decided: April 18, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JAMES C. WILLIAMS, APPELLANT



Nos. 134 and 136 January Term, 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Philadelphia County, as of October Term, 1975, Nos. 1722-1723.

COUNSEL

Louis Lipschitz, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., William Turnoff, Philadelphia, for appellee.

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

Author: Larsen

[ 484 Pa. Page 592]

OPINION

On April 2, 1976, appellant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime, following a jury trial. Post-verdict motions were denied; appellant was sentenced to three to six years imprisonment for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and a concurrent one to two years imprisonment for the conviction for possession of an instrument of crime. These appeals followed.*fn1

Appellant challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress a signed statement which was given by him to the police approximately twelve hours after his arrest. He

[ 484 Pa. Page 593]

    alleges that the incriminating statement was obtained in violation of Pa.R.Crim.P. Rule 130*fn2 and this Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972) which held that evidence obtained during, and reasonably related to, an "unnecessary delay" between arrest and arraignment must be excluded.

Before evidence will be suppressed on the grounds of pre-arraignment delay, three conditions must be met: (1) the delay must be unnecessary; (2) the evidence must be reasonably related to the delay; and (3) the evidence must be prejudicial to the defendant. Commonwealth v. Williams, 455 Pa. 569, 319 A.2d 419 (1974).*fn3 In considering the applicability of these conditions to an incriminating statement made in the interim between arrest and arraignment, this Court has narrowed the relevant time frame for determining whether the statement is the illegal fruit of an "unnecessary delay" to the period between the arrest and the making of the statement. Commonwealth v. Rowe, 459 Pa. 163, 327 A.2d 358 (1974). This is because, "as we noted in Futch, if unnecessary delay follows the securing of a [incriminating statement], that evidence is not reasonably related to the subsequent delay. See, e. g., United States v. Mitchell, 322 U.S. 65, 64 S.Ct. 896, 88 L.Ed. 1140 (1944) (further citation omitted). For as the Supreme Court stated in Mitchell, 'the illegality of [an accused's] detention does not retroactively change the circumstances under which he made the disclosures.' 322 U.S. at 70, 64 S.Ct. at 898." Id. at 168, 327 A.2d at 361.

Applying these principles on review, our responsibility is 'to determine whether the record supports the factual findings of the ...


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