Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES P. WICHERT (10/05/79)

filed: October 5, 1979.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JAMES P. WICHERT, APPELLANT



NOS. 222 and 223 Special Transfer Docket, Appeals from Judgments of Sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Philadelphia County, Nos. 1729 and 1731 March Term, 1977.

COUNSEL

William J. Mazzola, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Eric B. Henson, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Montgomery, O'Brien and Honeyman, JJ.*fn*

Author: Honeyman

[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 386]

After bench trial, appellant was adjudicated guilty of murder in the third degree and possession of an instrument of crime. Post trial motions were denied and sentences of seven to twenty years for the murder and a concurrent term of two and one-half to five years on the lesser offense were imposed. From these judgments of sentence appeals were taken and consolidated.

On March 9, 1977, upon arrival at the home of appellant, police found appellant's wife on the couch dead from a stab wound in the abdomen. Appellant was lying on the floor near the couch, with slashes on his wrist and torso and

[ 270 Pa. Super. Page 387]

    covered with blood. A knife was found lying within six inches of his hand. There was no evidence of any forced entry into the dwelling. The police had been summoned to the scene by a member of decedent's family. Police removed appellant to a hospital emergency room where, shortly thereafter, and following his Miranda warnings, he made an inculpatory statement. Uniformed police officers were detailed to guard appellant's hospital room. On March 17, 1977, following his discharge from the hospital, appellant was arrested, taken to the Police Administration Building and again advised of his Miranda rights. He then gave a second inculpatory statement and was promptly arraigned.

At the conclusion of a suppression hearing, the March 9th statement was suppressed because appellant was in extremis and thus was unable to effectively waive his right to remain silent. Suppression was refused as to the March 17th statement.

Appellant contends that it was error to admit the second statement into evidence because there was no lawful arrest of appellant and the second statement was tainted thereby, as well as being further tainted by the exploitation of the unlawfully obtained first statement. We do not agree.

The thrust of the allegation concerning the arrest was that there was no probable cause, absent a statement out of the mouth of the appellant. We conclude that there was ample probable cause for the police to arrest appellant, both from the physical evidence found at the scene which strongly should have indicated to a reasonable mind that a murder and an attempted suicide had occurred. Furthermore, the decedent's mother had visited the home at 8:45 p. m. on March 8, 1977 and talked with both decedent and appellant. The following morning at 6:45 a. m., she returned and observed appellant through a window walking around the bedroom with blood on his chest. The test for probable cause is whether there were facts available at the time of the initial apprehension that ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.