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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. STEVEN JOHN ANDERL (05/18/84)

filed: May 18, 1984.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
STEVEN JOHN ANDERL



No. 786 Pittsburgh 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, Allegheny County, Nos. 8006947 and 8007468 (OTN B751531-4 B752072-6).

COUNSEL

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

Leonard Sharon, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Spaeth, Brosky and Montemuro, JJ.

Author: Montemuro

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 73]

This is a Commonwealth appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granting in part and denying in part appellee's pre-trial motion to suppress evidence. The appellee, Steven Anderl, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or a

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 74]

    controlled substance,*fn1 carrying an unlicensed firearm,*fn2 possession of a controlled substance*fn3 (cocaine), possession of a controlled substance*fn4 (methaqualone), and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance*fn5 (methaqualone).

Prior to trial, the appellee filed a motion to suppress statements and physical evidence, including: (1) a valise containing a plastic bag in which were found 892 Methaqualone tablets; (2) a .38 caliber Chartiers Arms revolver; (3) a metal tube in which was found a residence of white powder, found to be cocaine; (4) the results of a breathalyzer test; and (5) statements made by the appellee. The hearing court ordered that the "gun, the contents of the valise and all confession statements, together with the breathalyzer test, be suppressed." We agree that the gun and two of the confession statements were properly suppressed; however, we find the court erroneously suppressed the appellee's initial statement, the contents of the valise and the results of the breathalyzer test. Consequently, with respect to the initial statement made by the appellee, the contents of the satchel and the results of the breathalyzer, we reverse the order of the hearing court.*fn6

Initially, we note the standard of review for appeals from suppression orders. An appellate court is bound by the factual findings of the suppression court if they have support in the record. Commonwealth v. Hall, 475 Pa. 482, 380 A.2d 1238 (1977); Commonwealth v. Johnson, 467 Pa. 146, 354 A.2d 886 (1976); Commonwealth v. Iannaccio,

[ 329 Pa. Super. Page 75304]

Pa. Super. 307, 450 A.2d 694 (1982). However, the suppression court's order may be reversed if the legal conclusions drawn from the factual findings are in error, Commonwealth v. Jackson, 497 Pa. 591, 442 A.2d 1098 (1982); Commonwealth v. Hall, supra.

The facts relevant to this appeal are as follows. On October 2, 1980, at approximately 2:20 a.m., Officer Timothy Logue received a radio call to proceed to the scene of an accident at 260 McMonagle Road, Greentree Borough. He proceeded to the scene and there encountered a red Cadillac El Dorado in the driveway of a private residence, where it had come to rest after striking a wall adjacent to the driveway. A resident of McMonagle Road, Ronald Ambrosick, who had come out to investigate the crash, pointed out the appellee as the driver of the vehicle. Mr. Ambrosick was the one who had phoned the police and was also the one who found the appellee slumped over the steering wheel.

Officer Logue asked the appellee if he was injured or if he needed an ambulance; to which the appellee replied in the negative. At this time, more police began to arrive from Mt. Lebanon and Scott Township (The scene of the accident was close to the boundary line). Officer Logue then asked the appellee to produce his driver's license, owner's card and No-Fault insurance card. While the appellee was getting the cards out, Mr. Ambrosick told the officer that he [Ambrosick] had seen the appellee remove a dark colored satchel from the trunk of the vehicle and place it behind a hedge nearby. The officer walked over to the spot indicated and observed the satchel. He then asked the appellee if the satchel was his. The appellee answered no. Officer Logue looked into the unzipped satchel and saw an open brown paper bag ...


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