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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RAYMOND JAMES WILLIAMS (09/24/82)

filed: September 24, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
RAYMOND JAMES WILLIAMS, APPELLANT



No. 8 Pittsburgh, 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. CC7600712.

COUNSEL

John H. Corbett, Jr., Assistant Public Defender, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Stella L. Smetanka, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Hester and Watkins, JJ. Hester, J., files a dissenting statement.

Author: Watkins

[ 304 Pa. Super. Page 352]

This case comes to us on appeal from the denial of defendant's post conviction petition by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. The defendant had been convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter relative to the

[ 304 Pa. Super. Page 353]

    death of Shahonda Jackson, a minor child for whom he was baby-sitting.

On January 21, 1976 the defendant took the decedent to Mercy Hospital where she died. Officers Holliday and Lucia were present at the hospital at the time the defendant brought the child there. The officers were there on an unrelated matter. While at the hospital the officers learned from hospital personnel that the child had died under unnatural circumstances. They then reported the death to the homicide section of the police department and homicide officers were dispatched to the scene.

After they had reported the situation to the homicide department, the defendant approached the Officers and asked for a light for his cigarette. He was in a visably shaken condition at the time. The defendant then began to tell Officer Holliday about his involvement in the child's death. The officer then asked the defendant, "Do you want to talk about it?" The defendant answered "Yeah". He was then taken by the officers to a small room where he was questioned about the incident. During the questioning, the defendant admitted that the child had fallen down the steps because he had "spanked her too hard". During the questioning the homicide detective arrived at the hospital. The defendant was then taken to the scene of the child's injuries and questioned further about the incident.

At trial the defendant's attorney never moved to suppress the defendant's admissions relative to his involvement in the child's death. His admissions were a crucial part of the Commonwealth's case against him. He now claims that his counsel was ineffective in failing to move to suppress the aforesaid admissions on the grounds that he had not been provided with Miranda Warnings prior to the questioning. We agree and remand the case to the court below for a new trial.

Counsel's assistance is deemed to be constitutionally effective if the particular course of action or non-action chosen by counsel ...


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