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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT BEBOUT (03/26/84)

submitted: March 26, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT BEBOUT, APPELLANT



No. 01256 Pittsburgh, 1982, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. CC8103509A.

COUNSEL

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

Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, President Judge, and Brosky and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Brosky

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 277]

The sole issue before us in this appeal is whether appellant, who was a juvenile at the time of his arrest, was denied the right to have access to an informed interested adult prior to making an incriminating statement. We affirm.

Appellant's conviction stemmed from the sexual assault and subsequent strangulation and beating of a seven year old boy whose nude body was found on May 15, 1981 in the Saw Mill Run Creek in the West End neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The evidence presented at the suppression hearing indicates that during the police investigation, several boys from the neighborhood were taken to the Public Safety Building in Pittsburgh where they were questioned about their activities and asked whether they had observed strangers in the vicinity on the night the crime was committed.

Among the boys questioned in this way were appellant and his two brothers who were taken to the Public Safety Building at approximately 4:00 p.m. on May 18, 1981. The boys were interviewed separately and the detective who interviewed appellant testified that shortly after the interview began he asked Mr. Bebout if he knew anything about Michael Jackson's death and he responded, "I did it." When appellant told the detective that he had killed Michael, the officer left the room and saw to it that Ginette Bebout, appellant's mother, was contacted. Mrs. Bebout was brought to the Public Safety Building and was told her and her son's rights, as was appellant. Mrs. Bebout and her son met privately and they both signed the rights waiver form. Mr. Bebout then made a statement in the presence of his mother.

Appellant argues that his waiver was not voluntary because it was obtained in violation of the "interested adult" rule. That rule provided that no juvenile could waive his right to remain silent and his right to the assistance of counsel without the opportunity to consult with an adult,

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 278]

    who is informed of the juvenile's rights and is interested in the welfare of the juvenile.*fn1 Appellant claims that he did not have the opportunity to consult with an interested adult because his mother was not in fact interested in his welfare and seeks to prove this by use of "after discovered" evidence.

The current standard for evaluating the voluntariness of confessions made by juveniles is the result of a recent evolution in the area of criminal justice. The interested adult rule, which came to be known as the McCutchen Rule, established a per se rule that a juvenile is incompetent to waive his constitutional rights without access to an interested and informed adult. The McCutchen Rule was adopted as a prophylactic measure to ensure that the requirements of due process are satisfied. In Commonwealth v. Smith, 472 Pa. 492, 372 A.2d 797 (1977) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated:

The per se McCutchen Rule was overruled by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Commonwealth v. Christmas, 502 Pa. 218, ...


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