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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT MURPHY AND JOHN FILLER (10/01/82)

filed: October 1, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT MURPHY AND JOHN FILLER



Nos. 2457-2458 October Term, 1979, Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Philadelphia County, Nos. 810-815 November Term, 1978.

COUNSEL

Marianne E. Cox, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Burton A. Rose, Philadelphia, for appellees.

Price, Wickersham and Lipez, JJ. Wickersham, J., files a concurring opinion. Price, J., dissents.

Author: Lipez

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 247]

This is a Commonwealth appeal from a pre-trial order dismissing all charges against the defendants, Philadelphia police detectives Robert Murphy and John Filler, on the ground that their due process rights were violated by a

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 248]

    pre-arrest delay of 32 months. We vacate the order, reinstate all charges, and remand for disposition of defendants' other pre-trial motions which remain outstanding.

The charges*fn1 against detectives Murphy and Filler arose out of an alleged beating of Amos Singleton on December 23, 1975, after a preliminary hearing held at the 14th police district on robbery charges then pending against Singleton. Murphy and Filler appeared at the hearing as the arresting officers. After the hearing, defendant Murphy and another policeman, Officer Fleming, led Singleton out to take him back to his cell. Meanwhile Singleton's lawyer, Daniel-Paul Alva, remained in the hearing room because he had another case listed.

After hearing sounds of a struggle outside, Alva ran out and saw Singleton doubled over. Alva questioned defendant Filler, who said Singleton had tried to escape. Murphy and Filler then decided to take Singleton to the 35th police district, in order to charge Singleton with escape. They also decided to ride to the 35th district in the back of the police van with Singleton.

Alva returned to the hearing room, where his other case was continued. Alva then drove his car quickly to the 35th district, arriving simultaneously with the police van and with Officer Fleming, who drove in a separate car. Defendants Murphy and Filler removed Singleton from the van. Singleton was unrecognizable, his entire face swollen and blood-covered. Murphy and Filler assisted Singleton into the Northwest Detective Division, which is in the same building as the 35th district. Sergeant Hill, who was on duty, ordered that Singleton be taken to the hospital, where he remained from December 23, 1975 to January 1, 1976, being treated for extremely serious injuries.*fn2

[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 249]

At the time Singleton had been led into the Northwest Detective Division, Mr. Alva immediately told Sergeant Hill, in the presence of defendants Murphy and Filler, that he wished to file a complaint charging the defendants with beating Singleton in the back of the van. Alva gave a detailed statement, the gist of which was that Singleton had no visible injuries of any kind when Alva saw the defendants take Singleton into the van with his hands ...


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