No. 2329 Philadelphia, 1981, APPEAL FROM THE SUPPRESSION ORDER OF AUGUST 3, 1981, IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, TRIAL DIVISION, CRIMINAL SECTION, NO. 81-05-1148-1149.
Ann Carol Lebowitz, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Douglas Bry, Assistant Public Defender, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Cirillo, Montemuro and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 295]
This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, granting the appellee's Motion to Supress physical evidence and a statement.
On April 22, 1981, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Officer Lawrence Nodiff of the Philadelphia Police Department observed a white Buick Century travelling down 48th Street in Philadelphia at a high rate of speed. The vehicle crossed over into the oncoming lane and then proceeded through a red light before being stopped by the officer. Thereafter, Officer Nodiff approached the car and asked the operator,
[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 296]
appellee Keith Woodard, for his driver's license and registration. The appellee could not produce either, so the officer asked him who owned the car. The appellee gave his name and an oral statement in which he claimed that the car belonged to a relative.
Officer Nodiff subsequently observed a "Hertz Rental Car" sticker in the back window and, upon opening the door to determine the serial number of the car, saw a similar sticker. The officer then returned to his patrol car and, using the police radio, initiated a search through the National Crime Information Center (N.C.I.C.) as to whether the car was stolen or whether the appellee was wanted for any crime. The N.C.I.C. informed him that the car was owned by Hertz Rental Cars, located at Philadelphia International Airport, that there was no report of it being stolen, and that the appellee was not wanted in connection with any crime. Despite this information, the officer arrested the appellee and impounded the car. Officer Nodiff contacted Hertz after arriving at the police station, but at that time, Hertz was not aware that the car was missing. However, a check of their lot revealed that the car had been stolen.
The appellee was charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition,*fn1 theft by receiving stolen property*fn2 and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.*fn3 On June 8, 1981, the appellee filed a motion to suppress physical evidence, i.e., the vehicle, as well as his oral statement to Officer Nodiff in which he indicated that the vehicle belonged to an unnamed relative. A hearing was held before the Honorable Nelson A. Diaz on August 3, 1981, after which, the Motion to Suppress was granted. The Commonwealth's appeal from that order followed.*fn4
[ 307 Pa. Super. Page 297]
The question presented on appeal is whether the challenged evidence is suppressible as the ...