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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DONALD L. STARR (10/01/79)

decided: October 1, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DONALD L. STARR, JR., APPELLANT



No. 24 May Term, 1978, Appeal, in Forma Pauperis, from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of York County, at No. 157 C.A. 1976.

COUNSEL

John H. Chronister, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

John C. Uhler, Dist. Atty. of York County, Sheral Ann Dorney, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Nix and Larsen, JJ., file dissenting opinions.

Author: O'brien

[ 486 Pa. Page 531]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Donald L. Starr, Jr., was tried by a judge sitting without a jury and convicted of murder of the second degree for the stabbing death of Wilbur Grim during a robbery. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment. This appeal followed.

Appellant raises only one issue in this appeal. He alleges the trial court erred in refusing his pretrial motion to suppress his confession. The facts are as follows.

Once appellant became suspect in the instant homicide, he was asked to go to the state police barracks for purposes of taking a polygraph examination. Once at the barracks, appellant met with Trooper John B. Kelly, the polygraph examiner. Trooper Kelly explained how the test would be administered, and then fully informed appellant of his applicable constitutional rights. As Trooper Kelly testified:

". . . When I give the rights form, I get into the third paragraph there that deals with the polygraph instrument specifically. I reiterate there. I read him those rights. And, by the way, when I read those rights, I interject the fact that anything he says can and will be used against him. Polygraph charts in all cases are not used in court. But I didn't want to mislead him, and I did relate to him that there are some circumstances where polygraphs have been admitted in court either by stipulation or court order or as an issue. . . ."

[ 486 Pa. Page 532]

Appellant was then asked if he would be willing to take the examination. He originally was somewhat reluctant to take the test. When Trooper Kelly questioned him as to why he was reluctant, appellant agreed to take the examination.

Following the examination, Kelly indicated to appellant that the results indicated deception on appellant's part when he denied participation in the Grim stabbing. Shortly thereafter, appellant was again informed of his constitutional rights, which he ...


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