Nos. 164 and 238 January Term, 1977, Appeals from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Philadelphia, at Nos. 2747 and 2748 November Term, 1975
Louis Lipschitz, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Neil Kitrosser, Asst. Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion.
Appellant, Lonnie Dawson, was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia of murder of the first degree and conspiracy. He was sentenced to imprisonment for life for murder and five to ten years for conspiracy, the sentences to run concurrently. He appeals the judgment of sentence for murder to this court. He appealed the judgment of sentence for conspiracy to the Superior Court, which certified the appeal to this court.
Appellant was charged in connection with the shooting death of James Hershell Williams, which occurred on November 5, 1975. Eyewitnesses provided information about
the shooting, but none could identify the perpetrators. Appellant, William Hoskins, and Joseph Rhone were tied to the shooting by circumstantial evidence. Appellant, after being arrested, gave a statement to the police in which he admitted being involved.
Appellant argues he was improperly restricted in his cross-examination of Detective Michael Chitwood, who took the inculpatory statement. Chitwood was called as a witness by the Commonwealth and testified about the facts surrounding the taking of the statement and about its content. Appellant contended Chitwood fabricated the statement and that, in any event, it could not be considered knowing and voluntary. He desired to show Chitwood had a motive to fabricate the statement. Specifically, he proposed to show that just before interrogating appellant, Chitwood severely beat William Hoskins with a nightstick and that afterward Chitwood was transferred out of the homicide division of the police department. According to appellant, Chitwood was motivated to fabricate the statement in order to account for the time he beat Hoskins. He claims he could have demonstrated that by showing the time Chitwood beat Hoskins and comparing that with the time he claimed to have taken the statement. Appellant claims the beating of Hoskins was related to Chitwood's being transferred. He also claims the transfer was a disciplinary action against Chitwood and that the fact Chitwood was subject to disciplinary action gave him further motive to testify falsely. The trial court refused to allow questioning on these matters. Appellant claims this was improper. We agree and will reverse.
A defendant's right of confrontation includes the right to cross-examine witnesses about possible motives to testify. In Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 94 S.Ct. 1105, 39 L.Ed.2d 347 (1974), the Supreme Court held the right was denied by refusing to allow a burglary defendant to cross-examine a witness about his having ...