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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CHARLES MILLER (01/29/82)

decided: January 29, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
CHARLES MILLER, APPELLANT



No. 80-1-117, Appeal from the Judgments of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division at Nos. CC7804638 and CC7804691

COUNSEL

Paul R. Gettleman, Zelienople, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Stella L. Smetanka, Asst. Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, for appellee.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix,*fn* Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. Flaherty, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Nix

[ 497 Pa. Page 260]

OPINION

This is a direct appeal from the judgments of sentence imposed following convictions for voluntary manslaughter and robbery. On June 14, 1978, two men entered the Babyland Store in the city of Pittsburgh and proceeded to rob the employees. During the robbery, Edward Yagatich, a clerk, was shot and killed by one of the two intruders. For the reasons that follow, we find no basis for disturbing the judgments of sentence entered below.

Appellant has raised five arguments which we will treat seriatim. It is urged that there was insufficient probable cause to arrest the appellant for the homicide and robbery and as a consequence statements obtained during the arrest should have been suppressed. The warrant for appellant's arrest for the instant charges resulted from a statement made to the police by Henry "Fats" Turner. It is the contention of appellant that Turner's reliability was not established. We do not agree.

One test that has been recognized to determine the . . . reliability of an informant has been where the statement is against the penal interest of the declarant. Commonwealth v. Glover, 488 Pa. 459, 412 A.2d 855 (1980); Commonwealth v. Stickle, 484 Pa. 89, 398 A.2d 957 (1979); Commonwealth v. Stokes, 480 Pa. 38, 389 A.2d 74 (1978); Commonwealth v. Chumley, 482 Pa. 626, 394 A.2d 497 (1978). The personal involvement of the declarant assures direct knowledge of the source of the information and the self implication tends to suggest the reliability of the statement.

We have noted the requirement of probable cause is not structured to assure certainty but rather it is a test of probabilities dealing with the considerations of everyday life. Commonwealth v. Dickerson, 468 Pa. 599, 364 A.2d 677 (1976).

Where a person is an admitted participant in a crime and police secure a . . . warrant upon information received

[ 497 Pa. Page 261]

    from him, affiant-officers need not support their claim that the informant was credible or his information reliable since the individual's admission of participation in the crime insures his reliability. ...


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