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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. REUBEN GRAVES (02/15/80)

filed: February 15, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
REUBEN GRAVES, APPELLANT



No. 2049 October Term, 1977, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia District, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, at No. 5851 November Term, 1976

COUNSEL

Eugene H. Clarke, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Cercone, President Judge, and Watkins and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Cercone

[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 559]

Appellant takes this appeal from his conviction for arson endangering persons*fn1 and for arson endangering property.*fn2 Appellant raises two issues in this appeal: 1) Whether the trial court erred in denying appellant's motion to suppress an incriminating statement made by appellant subsequent to his arrest, and, 2) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a verdict of guilty to the charge of arson. The lower court ruled against appellant on these issues and appellant now challenges that ruling. We affirm.

On October 23, 1976, at approximately 10:00 p. m., the first of two fires occurring in appellant's apartment at 4027 Powelton Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was reported. Firemen were called to the scene and upon entering appellant's third floor apartment they found the sofa to be on fire. While the firemen were at the scene, they were approached by appellant, who volunteered the inculpatory statements, "I did it, take me in," and "I'm going to clean out the whole third floor some day." Appellant also made similar remarks to Police Officer W. H. Campbell, essentially:

[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 560]

"I started the fire, take me in." Officer Campbell observed that appellant appeared excited and was sweating when he made these statements. Though appellant was not formally arrested at that time, Officer Campbell thought that appellant "needed some type of psychiatric evaluation" based on appellant's excitedly stated admissions. Therefore, at approximately 10:45 p. m. Officer Campbell took appellant to the psychiatric unit of Philadelphia General Hospital (PGH). The psychiatrist permitted appellant to return to his home where he arrived at approximately 12:15 a. m. When he arrived, he was unable to enter his apartment because a second fire was taking place in it.*fn3 This later fire was much more serious than the first and resulted in the death of one of the tenants in the building, Edward "Geach" Kirkland. Thus, while appellant was waiting outside his apartment, Fire Lieutenant Duff recognized appellant, and he was placed under arrest at approximately 12:20 a. m. by Officer Campbell who was also present at the scene of the fire.

Appellant was taken to detective headquarters where he remained for an unspecified time, without being questioned. When authorities learned of the discovery of "Geach" Kirkland's body, appellant was transported to the Philadelphia Police Homicide Division, at the Police Administration Building located at 8th and Race Streets. Appellant arrived at Homicide Division at 2:40 a. m., and was promptly taken to an interview room where he was given a drink of water and then left alone until 3:30 a. m. when an officer returned briefly to check on appellant, but did not interrogate him. Appellant then remained alone until about 5:20 a. m., when Detective Craig Peterson arrived to question appellant. The interview concluded at 6:23 a. m. when appellant read over a typed inculpatory statement and signed it. Appellant was not arraigned until 4:20 p. m. According to Detective Peterson, although appellant appeared somewhat nervous

[ 275 Pa. Super. Page 561]

    during the interview, he was nonetheless cooperative and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. It appeared to Detective Peterson that appellant understood both the questions and the reason for his arrest. In his statement appellant admitted that he had started the first fire by dropping a match onto a paper bag. Subsequently, appellant was charged with and convicted of setting the first fire, but was not found to be responsible for the fire which resulted in "Geach" Kirkland's death.

Appellant first argues that his statement should have been suppressed under the ruling of Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972), wherein the Supreme Court ruled that a confession obtained as a result of unreasonable delay between arrest and arraignment is to be suppressed.*fn4 In Commonwealth v. Williams, 455 Pa. 569, 319 A.2d 419 (1974) the Supreme Court ...


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