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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GARY BROWN. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/29/85)

filed: March 29, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
GARY BROWN. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT, V. LEWIS A. WISE



No. 3052 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order Entered on October 6, 1982 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, No. 4953-72, March Term, 1982. No. 3053 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from the Order Entered on October 6, 1982 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, No. 4977-4996, March Term, 1982

COUNSEL

Eric B. Henson, Deputy District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.

John Packel, Chief, Appeals, Assistant Public Defender, Philadelphia, for appellee (at 3052).

Timothy A. Crawford, Philadelphia, for appellee (at 3053).

Cirillo, Beck and Cercone, JJ.

Author: Cercone

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 140]

Appellees Lewis A. Wise and Gary Brown were charged as participating in the robberies of a number of bars in the Philadelphia area which occurred from November 1981 through February 1982. Appellee Wise was identified by a witness as one of the felons in the Castle Bar. During interrogation, he inculpated himself as a participant in several other bar robberies in which the perpetrators all wore ski masks. Appellee Brown was identified as having robbed the 801 Bar and in the course of interrogation he admitted his role in various other bar robberies, in which witnesses had reported the robbers as having worn head coverings, making their identification similarly impossible.

The evidence elicited at the preliminary hearing consisted of various bar owners and barmaids who could testify as to the circumstances of the robberies, i.e., dates, number of perpetrators, amount of money taken, but who, with the exception of the 801 and Castle Bar incidents, could provide no identification of the robbers. (Some were able to say they were black men of a certain build). The identifications were provided by each detective's testimony as to the statements given by the appellees during interrogation.

Following a suppression hearing, the court granted appellees' respective motions as to the inculpatory statements since appellees had not been rewarned of their Miranda rights prior to interrogation on the numerous unsolved bar robberies in the police files. This is the Commonwealth's appeal from that suppression order. The Commonwealth is substantially handicapped in its prosecution of

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 141]

    appellees by the suppression of the statements in that they provide the only link of appellees to the robberies. Thus, this case is properly before us as an appealable order.*fn1 Commonwealth v. Dugger, 506 Pa. 537, 486 A.2d 382 (1985) (Commonwealth was found to have absolute right to appeal a suppression order on its good faith certification that its prosecution is substantially handicapped.)

When we review an order suppressing evidence, we are bound by the lower court's findings of fact, if those findings are supported by the record. Commonwealth v. Williams, 287 Pa. Superior Ct. 19, 429 A.2d 698 (1981). No one is questioning the court's findings of fact in the instant cases. The court found that both defendants, in two separate interrogation sessions, were initially administered their Miranda*fn2 warnings as to the robbery in which each was implicated by a positive identification via a photo array by witnesses. Each defendant waived his rights and agreed to talk. While Brown admitted his role in the 801 Bar robbery, Wise initially denied that he robbed the Castle Bar. Wise subsequently admitted his role in the Castle Bar robbery after admitting robbing seven other bars. However, the court further found, and this is supported by the testimony of Detective Santiago, as to Brown, and Detective Carroll, as to Wise, that the interrogating detectives then proceeded to question appellees about their possible participation in numerous unsolved bar robberies. Each defendant did admit such participation in seven or eight additional robberies.

The suppression court concluded, under the authority of Commonwealth v. Travaglia, 502 Pa. 474, 467 A.2d 288 (1983), Commonwealth v. Dixon, 475 Pa. 17, 379 A.2d 553 (1977), and Commonwealth v. Richman, 458 Pa. 167, 320 A.2d 351 (1974) that the procedure ...


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