Appeal from Judgment of Sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division at No. CC8410680A.
Paulette J. Balogh, Assistant Public Defender, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Edward M. Clark, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Com., appellee.
Kelly, Montgomery and Hester, JJ.
[ 355 Pa. Super. Page 516]
Appellant was arrested September 27, 1984 and charged on November 9, 1984 with three counts of robbery, two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of criminal conspiracy. Appellant filed an Omnibus Pre-trial motion on April 10, 1985 asserting, inter alia, lack of probable cause to stop the car in which appellant was a passenger on the evening of September 27, 1984 and lack of probable cause to arrest. Hearing on that motion, and the trial, were assigned to the Honorable Judge Lee of the Court of Common Pleas. On April 25, 1985, the day of appellant's trial, two co-defendants pleaded guilty before Judge Lee; that same day Judge Lee denied appellant's suppression motion. Nonetheless, appellant waived his right to trial by jury and proceeded to trial without jury before Judge Lee.
Appellant was adjudicated guilty on all but one of the robbery counts. After denial of motion for new trial and/or arrest of judgment, appellant was sentenced on July 21, 1985 to a period of incarceration. This appeal timely followed.
[ 355 Pa. Super. Page 517]
The facts of this case were aptly summarized by the court below:
On September 27, 1984, at approximately ten o'clock p.m., Valerie McIntosh, Susan Lippert and Janet Bartoletta were seated in a bus shelter in Munhall. They were approached by three black males who attempted to take their purses. One of the actors knocked down Ms. Lippert, who was in her ninth month of pregnancy, and the actors fled with her purse and Ms. Bartoletta's. The actors then entered a large reddish or brownish car driven by a fourth black male which drove off in the direction of Whitaker Borough. The women reported the robbery to a mill guard; Munhall police arrived in a short time and interviewed the women, receiving a partial license plate number, a description of the car and its direction of travel, and a description of the actors. Munhall police radioed these descriptions to the Whitaker police who spotted a car fitting this description in Whitaker and pursued it into Rankin. Whitaker police stopped the car in Rankin and, after the arrival of assistance from police officers from Rankin and several other neighboring municipalities, a search of the car was conducted which revealed Ms. Lippert's and Ms. Bartoletta's purses. Defendant Victor Reddix and co-defendants Robert Spencer, James Phillips and Robert Johnson, the occupants of the car, were placed under arrest.
At the scene, the victims identified both their property and the actors.
(Trial Opinion at 3-4). Appellant raises three contentions on direct appeal of his conviction: (1) The trial court erred in failing to suppress certain inadmissible evidence; (2) The trial court erred in failing to recuse itself after appellant's co-defendants had pleaded guilty before it; (3) The evidence was not sufficient to sustain appellant's conviction. We shall address these issues seriatim.
The appellant first contends that the trial court erred in failing to suppress evidence which ...