Appeal from the PCHA of January 13, 1984 in the court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Criminal Division, No. 3472 of 1979 & 3473 of 1979
Michael A. Klimpl, Doylestown, for appellant.
Colin M. Jenei, Assistant District Attorney, Newtown, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wickersham, Beck and Cercone, JJ.
[ 345 Pa. Super. Page 544]
On March 24, 1980, pursuant to a plea agreement, appellant entered a plea to second degree murder and robbery. Appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 3, 1980, and to a concurrent term of ten to twenty years on the robbery charge. At the time of his guilty plea and sentencing, appellant was represented by the Bucks County Public Defender's Office.
In January, 1983, appellant filed a petition for relief under the Post Conviction Hearing Act (PCHA),*fn1 challenging the propriety of the plea. Private counsel was appointed to represent appellant. Pursuant to the petition, a hearing was held on January 13, 1984, at which time appellant's request for relief was denied. This appeal followed.
On appeal, appellant is claiming that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to seek the suppression of inculpatory statements he had given during a custodial interrogation. He challenges the admissibility of those statements by arguing that he had not been given Miranda*fn2 warnings before making his initial statement, which rendered inadmissible
[ 345 Pa. Super. Page 545]
that statement and tainted subsequent post-warning statements. Appellant also argues that he should have been provided private defense counsel because a secretary in the Public Defender's office was the estranged wife of the prosecuting police officer. Having examined the record, we are satisfied that neither claim has merit and, accordingly, we affirm the order of the court below.
To better understand the holding in this case, we will recite the facts as found by the lower court. This will include evidence of the defense which, read in the context of the overall record, is uncontradicted. See Commonwealth v. Dixon, 475 Pa. 17, 20 n. 1, 379 A.2d 553, 554 n. 1 (1977).
At the hearing it was established and we found as specific facts that the defendant arrived at Warrington Township Police Headquarters on November 7, 1979 at some time shortly after 12 noon. He had been at work that morning and was requested to go to headquarters by a member of the Warrington Township police department. He was not under arrest and could have refused to go to headquarters had he wished. At headquarters he was met by detectives John Rice and John Mullen, both of whom were Bucks County detectives employed by the Bucks County District Attorney's office. He was not then arrested and was free to leave at any time he wished. The officers advised the defendant that they were investigating the murder involved in this case. Defendant was told that the victim's body had been found in Easton and that the officers had some information that the defendant had likewise been in Easton. No questions had been asked nor had the defendant been asked to give a statement of any kind. The defendant then advised the officers that he would tell them what happened. The officers then told the defendant not to say anything and they then proceeded to advise him of his ...