Appeal from Suppression Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Delaware County, No. 4722 of 1983.
Joseph J. Mittleman, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Com., appellant.
Eugene J. Malady, Upper Darby, for appellee.
Wickersham, Wieand and Popovich, JJ.
[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 553]
The sole issue in this appeal by the Commonwealth is whether the trial court erroneously suppressed inculpatory statements made by Stanley Hackney, a seventeen year old,
[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 554]
borderline mental retardate,*fn1 in the absence of his attorney. After having conducted a careful review of the record, we conclude that the order of the trial court was correct and must be affirmed.
When we review an order suppressing evidence, we are bound by the trial court's findings of fact so long as those findings are supported by competent evidence. Commonwealth v. Brown, 341 Pa. Super. 138, 141, 491 A.2d 189, 190 (1985); Commonwealth v. Williams, 287 Pa. Super. 19, 26, 429 A.2d 698, 702 (1981). The trial court's findings in the instant case, supported by competent evidence, suggest the following fact pattern.
Hackney was a suspect in a double homicide which had occurred in Darby, Delaware County, on March 13, 1983. A warrant for his arrest was issued on August 16, 1983. Hackney was at that time represented by Joseph Casey, Esquire, a member of the Philadelphia Public Defender's Office, a fact which was known to investigating members of the District Attorney's Office in Delaware County. Indeed, Detective Fitzpatrick had on several occasions spoken with Casey and had sought Casey's cooperation in permitting Fitzpatrick to speak with Hackney during the time when Hackney was an inpatient at The Fairmount Institute, a psychiatric hospital. Hackney was arrested at the hospital on August 17, 1983 at or about 1:35 p.m. Prior to Hackney's arrest, Casey had told Fitzpatrick that Fitzpatrick should not speak with Hackney unless he, Casey, were present. Casey also prepared a letter for presentation to arresting law enforcement officials. Although hospital personnel attempted to deliver the same to the arresting officers, the latter, after consulting with their superiors, refused to accept the same.
When Hackney was taken to and arrived at the Criminal Investigation Division of the Office of the District Attorney in Delaware County, he handed to Sgt. Minshall a letter as follows:
[ 353 Pa. Super. Page ...