No. 181 Special Transfer Docket, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Granting Post Conviction Relief in the Nature of a New Trial at No. 1096 September Term, 1972.
Robert B. Lawler, Assistant District Attorney, Chief, Appeals Division, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Daniel H. Greene, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Wieand, Nix and Wekselman, JJ.*fn*
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Edward Brown entered a plea of guilty to murder on June 21, 1973. After a degree of guilt hearing, he was adjudged
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guilty of murder in the first degree and sentenced to life imprisonment. On direct appeal, only the sufficiency of the evidence was challenged. The Supreme Court affirmed per curiam. Commonwealth v. Brown, 465 Pa. 291, 349 A.2d 911 (1976).
On April 12, 1976, Brown filed a P.C.H.A. petition in which he alleged that his plea of guilty was invalid because not entered knowingly and intelligently. After hearing, the lower court concluded that the guilty plea colloquy had been defective because it failed to apprise Brown of the elements of murder. This defect, it held, had not been waived by failing to raise it on direct appeal because such failure was attributable to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Brown, therefore, was awarded a new trial. The Commonwealth appealed. We affirm.
In Commonwealth v. Ingram, 455 Pa. 198, 316 A.2d 77 (1974), the Supreme Court held that "the record colloquy under Rule 319(a) must include a demonstration 'that the defendant understands the nature of the charges . . . .' [Citations omitted] . . . Thus, for an examination to demonstrate a defendant's understanding of the charge, the record must disclose that the elements of the crime or crimes charged were outlined in understandable terms." 455 Pa. at 203, 316 A.2d at 80.
The Commonwealth, nevertheless, argues that the Ingram standard is inapplicable to the instant case because appellee's guilty plea had been entered before Ingram was decided. Ingram, however, did not establish new law. It merely reaffirmed existing law in more articulate terms. Commonwealth v. Minor, 467 Pa. 230, 356 A.2d 346 (1976). The Supreme Court stated recently in Commonwealth v. Zakrzewski, 485 Pa. 532, 403 A.2d 516 (1979), that "Even before Ingram. . . an understanding of the offense charged was necessary to an intelligent and knowing guilty plea." See also: Commonwealth v. Minor, supra. The
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colloquy conducted on June 21, 1973 in the instant case failed to ...