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DWAINE FRANCIS BROWN (01/04/80)

filed: January 4, 1980.

IN THE INTEREST OF DWAINE FRANCIS BROWN, A MINOR. APPEAL OF DWAINE FRANCIS BROWN, A MINOR


No. 128 March Term, 1978, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County, Pennsylvania, entered at Nos. J.C. 113-1978 and J.C. 115-1978.

COUNSEL

Clayton R. Wilcox, Gettysburg, for appellant.

Gary Hartman, District Attorney, Gettysburg, for appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, and Wieand and Hoffman, JJ. Cercone, President Judge, and Hoffman, J., concur in the result.

Author: Wieand

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 558]

This is an appeal from an adjudication of delinquency. Appellant contends that a confession was improperly considered by the trial court. We vacate the adjudication and remand for an evidentiary hearing.

On the night of April 30, 1978, a stolen car struck a utility pole in the Borough of Gettysburg, Adams County. Tony Tyson and Jim Kurtz, passengers in the vehicle, and who were runaways from Hoffman Homes, received injuries which resulted in their deaths. A female passenger was also seriously injured but recovered. Dwaine Francis Brown, also a runaway from Hoffman Homes, gave statements on two separate occasions that he had been the driver at the time of the crash. The first statement was given at the hospital where, on his own initiative, he had gone following the accident for the purpose of receiving an examination. The second statement was made several days later at the Franklin Detention Center where appellant was being held.

On May 22, 1978, a delinquency hearing was held before the Honorable Oscar F. Spicer. At that hearing, the Commonwealth showed that on April 30, 1978, a township policeman had observed a vehicle emerge from a portion of the Gettysburg Military Park which had been closed to traffic. As he followed the vehicle he radioed for information concerning the registration number. The vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign, and the policeman thereupon sounded his siren and attempted to overtake the vehicle. The vehicle then increased its speed, violated another stop sign, and passed two cars on a curve in such manner as to force one of them off the road. Before the vehicle entered the Borough of Gettysburg, the pursuing township policeman was informed that the license plate on the car had been stolen from another vehicle.

In Gettysburg, the pursuit was taken up by borough police officers. Before the pursued vehicle could be stopped, however,

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 559]

    it crashed into a utility pole. Appellant was not found at the scene of the accident. A short time later, he was seen about two blocks from the accident scene by a social worker who recognized him as a runaway from Hoffman Homes. At or about 1:45 o'clock A.M. on May 1, 1978, appellant appeared at the hospital where, at his request, he was examined and found to be without injury.

When Officer James D. Ridinger arrived at the hospital he requested and received permission to ask appellant some questions. With him were Larry Murray, an Adams County Probation Officer, and Kenneth Michael Lantz, a social worker employed by Hoffman Homes. Ridinger informed appellant about the nature of his investigation, told him that Tyson was dead,*fn1 and advised him of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona.*fn2 During questioning, appellant admitted that he had been the driver of the death vehicle and narrated fully and in detail the movement thereof following its theft.

At the delinquency hearing, the Commonwealth produced oral testimony of the statements made by appellant at the hospital. There had been no pre-hearing motion to suppress these statements, and no objection was voiced at the time the testimony was given at the hearing. After the Commonwealth had rested, appellant elected not to testify and offered no evidence. The hearing was thus concluded, it will be observed, without any issue being raised and ...


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