No. 80-3-578, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Criminal Trial Division, September Term, 1978, at Nos. 1820-1822.
Darryl A. Irwin, Philadelphia (Court-appointed), for appellant.
Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Garold E. Tennis, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ.
This is an appeal from judgment of sentence of voluntary manslaughter following denial of post-trial motions after a
jury trial for the shooting death of Donald Respes by appellant. Appellant argues that the suppression court erred in permitting the use of a statement he made to an off-duty police officer to whom he surrendered. Contending that this statement was the product of custodial interrogation, appellant asserts that the failure of the officer to explain proper constitutional warnings mandated by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966) renders the statement inadmissible.
A suppression hearing was held December 6, 1978 and it was determined that the statement was volunteered and not the product of custodial interrogation. In determining whether this conclusion is supported by the record, we "consider only the evidence of the prosecution's witnesses and so much evidence for the defense as, fairly read in the context of the record as a whole, remains uncontradicted." Commonwealth v. Goodwin, 460 Pa. 516, 523, 333 A.2d 892, 895 (1975).
Only the testimony of Officer Coaxum was given at the suppression hearing establishing that on September 6, 1978, off-duty police officer Richard Coaxum was in Michelle's bar when employees and other patrons informed him that the appellant wanted to surrender to him. Coaxum, a friend of the appellant for at least two and one-half years, walked to the appointed location to meet appellant where Coaxum told him that the police and the victim's family were looking for him; whereupon, on Coaxum's advice, they began to walk the few blocks to the local police district station. Coaxum did not give appellant constitutional warnings, but did not ask any questions of him. While en route, appellant stated, "I didn't mean to shoot the fellow, it was all a mistake." The suppression court's determination that the statement was volunteered and made without any compelling influence is amply supported by the record. Officer Coaxum testified:
I saw the defendant on the highway, 21st and Montgomery. You know, I called the defendant. He came over, and we talked. I told ...