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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GEORGE WATERS (04/11/80)

filed: April 11, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GEORGE WATERS, JR., APPELLANT



No. 24 October Term, 1979, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, of Philadelphia County, as of March Term, 1978, No. 1474.

COUNSEL

Daniel M. Preminger, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

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

Author: Hoffman

[ 276 Pa. Super. Page 586]

This is an appeal from judgment of sentence following a jury trial in which appellant was convicted of unlawful possession of a controlled substance*fn1 and unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.*fn2 Appellant contends, inter alia, that (1) the suppression court erred in denying his motion to suppress physical evidence; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to grant a continuance requested on the day of trial; (3) his trial counsel was ineffective in not timely requesting a continuance;*fn3 and (4) the trial court

[ 276 Pa. Super. Page 587]

    erred in permitting a police officer to testify as an expert witness.*fn4 We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of sentence.

Appellant first contends that because the police did not have probable cause to arrest and search him, the heroin seized as a result of his arrest should have been suppressed. The Commonwealth's evidence at the suppression hearing consisted solely of the testimony of Richard Smith, a Philadelphia police officer. His testimony revealed the following: On January 13, 1978, at 7:00 p. m., Officer Smith received a phone call from a confidential informant whom he had known for approximately three months. The informant stated that he had just seen appellant inside a West Philadelphia bar buying twenty bundles of heroin from a man known by the informant and Officer Smith to be a narcotics dealer. Officer Smith was aware that many narcotics transactions occurred at that bar. The informant knew appellant by name and described him as being six feet tall, wearing glasses, and having a dark complexion, a beard, and gauze wrapped around his left hand. The informant told the officer that he saw appellant leave the bar in a black and red Charger automobile accompanied by a woman and another man. He stated that appellant had the heroin in his coat pockets and that he believed appellant's destination was his house at 5348 Webster Street in Philadelphia. Officer

[ 276 Pa. Super. Page 588]

Smith, accompanied by two other officers, then drove to that house in Officer Smith's car. They arrived at about 7:45 p. m. and parked in front of the house. Ten minutes later, a black and red Charger stopped about thirty-five feet from Officer Smith's car, and appellant and a woman got out. Appellant matched the description which the informant had given Officer Smith. As appellant started to walk up the steps leading to the porch of the house, Officer Smith got out of his car, identified himself as a police officer, and ordered him to stop. Appellant then reached into his coat pocket and appeared to throw an object to the ground. Officer Smith searched appellant and found in his left coat pocket two packages containing a whitish powder. One of the other officers picked up from the ground two more packages. The four packages contained a total of 432 glazed paper bags which were later found to contain heroin.

Officer Smith further testified that the informant had previously given him information leading to three arrests and confiscation of narcotics. Two of the arrests involved possession of heroin, and the other involved possession of marijuana. In the marijuana case, the defendant pleaded nolo contendere and was sentenced to probation for one year. At the time of appellant's suppression hearing, the defendants in the ...


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