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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ALFRED HARRIS (09/22/80)

decided: September 22, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
ALFRED HARRIS, APPELLANT



No. 389 January Term, 1978, Appeal from Order of the Superior Court, affirming Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal, of Montgomery County, at No. 824 July Term, 1973.

COUNSEL

Arthur J. King, Asst. Public Defender, Chief, Appeals Division, Douglas M. Johnson, Asst. Public Defender, Montgomery Co., for appellant.

John T. Salvucci, Mary M. Killinger, Asst. Dist. Attys., Montgomery Co., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion which Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ., join.

Author: O'brien

[ 491 Pa. Page 404]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Alfred Harris, was convicted by a jury of robbery, burglary and conspiracy. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to concurrent two-to-ten-year prison terms for the robbery and burglary convictions. Sentence was suspended for the conspiracy conviction. The Superior Court affirmed, Commonwealth v. Harris, 255 Pa. Super. 8, 386 A.2d 108 (1978), and we granted appellant's petition for allowance of appeal.

Appellant first argues that the suppression court erred in refusing to suppress certain physical evidence. The facts are as follows.

On July 11, 1972, while on routine patrol, Officer David Duboraw of the Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey, Police

[ 491 Pa. Page 405]

Department noticed a black and white Mercury Cougar with green and white out-of-state license plates parked in a service station lot with a black male sitting inside the auto. Duboraw's interest was piqued because he remembered a month-old police bulletin describing a black and white Mercury Cougar with green and white out-of-state plates that had been used in a robbery and shooting by two black men in a neighboring community.

While observing the automobile, Duboraw saw a Ford van pull up alongside the Cougar. After the driver of the Cougar talked to two black men in the van, both vehicles were driven out of the service station lot. While Officer Duboraw was following both vehicles, the men pulled into the parking lot of a liquor store. The Cougar had been parked in a normal manner; the van, however, had been parked in such a way as to have blocked the semi-circular driveway. Suspecting that a robbery was in progress, Duboraw radioed for help. Shortly after two other police cars arrived, the three men came out of the liquor store with a six pack of beer and a bottle of liquor. The trio got into the two vehicles and drove off. The police followed both vehicles for approximately a quarter mile before pulling them over and asking both drivers for identification. Earl Golden, the driver of the Cougar, produced an expired Pennsylvania driver's license. Samuel Foster, the driver of the van, had no identification. Appellant was the passenger in the van. Although the record is far from clear, appellant apparently told the officers that his name was Rufus Outlands. As the Cougar, the van and the three police cars were blocking traffic, the police asked the threesome if they would accompany the officers to the police station a block away. Golden, Foster and appellant drove their own vehicles to the police station.

When everyone arrived at the police station, appellant and his cohorts were placed in an interrogation room, where, as one officer testified, "We could run a check on them, all three subjects." The same officer, on cross-examination testified:

[ 491 Pa. Page 406]

"Q: When you took them to the police station, they were in fact confined ...


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