No. 655 Philadelphia 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No. 1078-1084 December Term 1976.
Thomas F. Reilly, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Jane Cutler Greenspan, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellee.
McEwen, Beck and Hoffman, JJ.
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Appellant alleges (1) that the introduction of co-defendants' redacted confessions violated his sixth amendment right to confrontation and (2) several instances of prosecutorial misconduct. We find no merit in appellant's contentions and, accordingly, affirm the lower court's order.
Appellant was arrested on November 23, 1976 and, along with three co-defendants, was charged with rape, robbery, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and criminal conspiracy. After a joint trial before a jury, appellant was found guilty on all counts and following the denial of his post-trial motions, was sentenced to a ten-to-twenty year term of imprisonment.*fn1 Subsequent to appellant's filing a Post
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Conviction Hearing Act petition on March 6, 1980, the Honorable Edward J. Blake granted appellant the right to appeal, nunc pro tunc, from the trial court's denial of his post-verdict motions. This appeal followed.
Appellant contends first that his sixth amendment right to confrontation was violated by the admission of his co-defendants' confessions. Specifically, he argues that the combination of the redacted confessions and the court's limiting instructions failed to protect this right. We disagree. Redaction can be an appropriate method of protecting a criminal defendant's rights, if "a confession can be edited so that it retains its narrative integrity and yet in no way refers to defendant." Commonwealth v. Johnson, 474 Pa. 410, 412, 378 A.2d 859, 860 (1977). See Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476 (1968). The introduction of a confession "is objectionable, however, . . . when it refers to and implicates the defendant." Commonwealth v. Guess, 266 Pa. Superior Ct. 359, 376, 404 A.2d 1330, 1338 (1979). See Commonwealth v. McQuaid, 273 Pa. Superior Ct. 600, 417 A.2d 1210 (1980); Commonwealth v. Norman, 272 Pa. Superior Ct. 300, 415 A.2d 898 (1979).
Here, the trial court admitted the redacted confessions of two of appellant's co-defendants. The court replaced all mention of proper names with the pronouns "we" and "us" and instructed the jury that the statements were to be considered only against the speakers and not against the remaining defendants. We find the redaction, coupled with the court's limiting instructions, sufficient protection against a denial of appellant's sixth amendment rights. As in Commonwealth v. Johnson, supra 474 Pa. at 414, 378 A.2d at 861, redaction is permissible here because "the confession does not contain a trace or a hint of participation in the crime by appellant . . . ." (emphasis added). Rather, the redacted confessions merely informed the jury that
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others, besides the speaker, were at the scene and possibly involved in the ...