Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

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

COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM SPENCER JENKINS (06/19/81)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


filed: June 19, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
WILLIAM SPENCER JENKINS, APPELLANT

No. 3024 October Term, 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, Nos. 236, 239, 240, 243 January Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Stephen R. LaCheen, Philadelphia, for appellant.

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

Price, Wickersham and Lipez, JJ.

Author: Price

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 233]

Following a non-jury trial, appellant, William Spencer Jenkins, was found guilty of two counts each of robbery,*fn1 conspiracy*fn2 and possession of an instrument of crime.*fn3 Following denial of post-verdict motions, he was sentenced to two terms of four to ten years imprisonment and one term

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 234]

    of fifteen years probation, all to run concurrently. Appellant now claims that he is entitled to a new trial because certain inculpatory statements, allegedly obtained as a result of his illegal arrest, were impermissibly admitted into evidence at trial.*fn4 See U.S.Const. Amend. IV; Pa.Const. Art. 1, ยง 8; Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963). For the reasons stated herein, we disagree and thus affirm the judgment of sentence.

The circumstances giving rise to appellant's arrest, as disclosed at the suppression hearing, are as follows. Acting pursuant to a warrant, Detective John Romano arrested Clifford Branch for his alleged participation in two robberies of a McDonalds restaurant located at Broad and Vine Streets in Philadelphia. At the time of his arrest, Branch gave a statement in which he admitted his involvement in the crimes and also implicated appellant as a co-felon. Specifically, Branch told the police that "Jinx" was a participant in the robberies and that Jinx "hung out" with Robert Moore, another co-defendant, between the 1400 and 1600 blocks of Susquehanna Avenue.

On the basis of this information, Detective Romano began to patrol the area identified by Branch as Jinx's "hangout." He questioned residents whether they knew an individual known as Jinx who was a friend of Robert Moore and who was often in that neighborhood. The detective subsequently received information concerning Jinx's whereabouts from a phone caller who had earlier informed Romano that he knew Moore and his friend, Jinx.*fn5 When Detective Romano arrived at the specified location, however, no one was there. The next night, the informant called again, stating that Jinx was at the corner of Carlisle Street and Susquehanna Avenue*fn6

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 235]

    wearing a new brown cashmere coat. Detective Romano went to the corner identified by the caller and observed a group of males, all of whom were wearing fatigue-type jackets, with the exception of appellant, who was wearing a new-looking gray wool coat. The detective approached appellant, whose identity was unknown at this time, and asked, "Jinx?" Appellant replied "yes" and was thereupon placed under arrest. After he was given standard Miranda warnings, appellant gave police a statement admitting his complicity in the two McDonalds robberies. (N.T. 37-43).

In Commonwealth v. Stokes, 480 Pa. 38, 389 A.2d 74 (1978), our supreme court stated:

The law is clear that a warrantless arrest is not lawful unless there is probable cause therefor . . . . Whether there is probable cause to arrest without a warrant depends on whether, at the moment a suspect is taken into custody, the facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge, and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information, are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person to be arrested has committed the offense.

Id., 480 Pa. at 43-44, 389 A.2d at 76 (citations omitted). See, e. g., Commonwealth v. Brooks, 468 Pa. 547, 364 A.2d 652 (1976); Commonwealth v. Patterson, 266 Pa. Super. 167, 403 A.2d 596 (1979).

It is equally clear that an officer's reasonable belief in the probability that the person to be arrested has engaged in some criminal activity may be predicated upon uncorroborated hearsay. See Draper v. United States, 358 U.S. 307, 79 S.Ct. 329, 3 L.Ed.2d 327 (1959). As has been frequently reiterated by our appellate courts, probable cause for a warrantless arrest "need not be grounded in the officer's direct, personal knowledge of the relevant facts and circumstances. It may, instead, rest solely on information supplied by another person where there is a 'substantial basis' for crediting that information." Commonwealth v. Stokes, 480

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page ]

Page 236of hearsay information an arresting officer need only satisfy the two-pronged test of Aguilar v. Texas, 378 U.S. 108, 84 S.Ct. 1509, 12 L.Ed.2d 723 (1964), as explicated in Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 89 S.Ct. 584, 21 L.Ed.2d 637 (1969). The officer must both know the underlying circumstances from which the informer concluded that the suspect participated in the crime and have some reasonable basis for concluding that the informant is reliable. Commonwealth v. Stokes, 480 Pa. 38, 389 A.2d 74 (1978); Commonwealth v. Patterson, 266 Pa. Super. 167, 403 A.2d 596 (1979).

In the instant case, the officer who made the arrest had received information directly from appellant's co-felon implicating himself and appellant. We have long expressed the view that hearsay information of this type will satisfy the Aguilar-Spinelli requirements and, thus, supply the probable cause for a warrantless arrest. See Commonwealth v. Matthews, 446 Pa. 65, 285 A.2d 510 (1971); Commonwealth v. Patterson, supra; Commonwealth v. Reisinger, 252 Pa. Super. 1, 380 A.2d 1250 (1977); Commonwealth v. Rose, 211 Pa. Super. 295, 235 A.2d 462 (1967). Accord, Commonwealth v. Wagner, 486 Pa. 548, 406 A.2d 1026 (1979); Commonwealth v. Stickle, 484 Pa. 89, 398 A.2d 957 (1979); Commonwealth v. Perry, 468 Pa. 515, 364 A.2d 312 (1976); Commonwealth v. Johnson, 467 Pa. 146, 354 A.2d 886 (1976). The first requirement, regarding the underlying circumstances from which the informant gathered the information, is satisfied by his admitted participation in the crime. See Commonwealth v. Matthews, supra; Commonwealth v. Reisinger, supra. The second, or reliability, requirement is met since the co-defendant's confession, like an admission against proprietary interest, carries its own indicia of credibility. Id. Therefore, we must reject appellant's contention that his arrest was without probable cause, that the confession obtained was a tainted fruit thereof, and that the trial court erred in ruling the confession admissible.

Appellant also argues that the facts of the instant case are similar to the facts in Commonwealth v. Brooks, 468 Pa. 547, 364 A.2d 652 (1976), and In re Betrand, 451 Pa. 381, 303 A.2d 486 (1973), where uncorroborated tips were found inadequate

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 238]

    to establish probable cause and evidence was suppressed. In particular, appellant contends that the phone caller's tip identifying his whereabouts at the corner of Carlisle Street and Susquehanna Avenue supplied no more information indicating the underlying circumstances upon which it was based, nor the reliability of the informant, than the anonymous tips in either Brooks*fn7 or Betrand.*fn8 The difficulty with appellant's argument is that the cases upon

[ 288 Pa. Super. Page 239]

    which he relies are readily distinguishable from the case sub judice. In neither of those cases was the information upon which the arrest was based supplied by the confession of an accomplice, incriminating both himself and the person to be arrested. As previously discussed, such information was by itself sufficient in law to show probable cause for appellant's arrest. The caller's tip herein merely served to inform Detective Romano of Jinx's whereabouts. In this regard, the trial court aptly stated:

The detective, upon approaching the only individual wearing a new coat among the group of males on the corner named by the informant, did not immediately arrest or otherwise detain him. Instead, he inquired if the man was Jinx. Defendant responded affirmatively and, at that point, armed with the knowledge that a co-defendant had implicated Jinx who hung with Robert Moore between the 1400 and 1600 blocks of Susquehanna, that a citizen in the neighborhood had said that such a person was on the corner where defendant was found, and that defendant acknowledged that he was Jinx, the detective made his arrest.

8, 10 (emphasis added).

The judgment of sentence is affirmed.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

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