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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CARSON LYNN BRUENING (07/14/86)

filed: July 14, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
CARSON LYNN BRUENING



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Elk County, Criminal at No. 74 of 1985 Elk County and Somerset Co. 13/CR 85.

COUNSEL

David J. Flower, Assistant District Attorney, Somerset, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Sandra W. Upor, Somerset, for appellee.

Del Sole, Montemuro and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 604]

The Commonwealth appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Elk County suppressing evidence secured prior to the arraignment of the defendant-appellee, Carson Lynn Bruening. We reverse.

The Commonwealth's right to appeal the instant interlocutory order was re-affirmed recently in Commonwealth v. Dugger, 506 Pa. 537, 545-46, 486 A.2d 382, 386 (1985) ("We granted the Commonwealth an appeal, and defined it a substantial handicap whenever the Commonwealth is denied the use of all their evidence. We did not say that the Commonwealth was obligated to demonstrate the need." (Emphasis in original)).

Since the Commonwealth is appealing the adverse ruling of a suppression court, we, as a reviewing court, "must consider only the evidence of the defendant's witnesses and so much of the evidence for the prosecution as read in the context of the record as a whole remains uncontradicted." Commonwealth v. Hamlin, 503 Pa. 210, 216, 469 A.2d 137, 139 (1983). So viewed, the evidence reveals that at approximately

[ 354 Pa. Super. Page 60510]

:30 p.m. on November 14, 1984, Trooper Clay Mankamyer of the Pennsylvania State Police was engaged in routine traffic patrol along Route 219 in Somerset County. The defendant's vehicle was observed swerving from the right lane to the left lane and, occasionally, the vehicle would proceed down the middle of the south bound lanes of the four-lane highway. After following the defendant for .3 miles, the trooper stopped the defendant and conducted a field sobriety test which the defendant failed. He was placed under arrest for, inter alia, driving while intoxicated (75 Pa.C.S. ยง 3731), and, thereafter, he was transported to the State Police barracks in Somerset to have his blood-alcohol level measured.

Upon arrival at the barracks, the defendant was advised of his rights, after which he informed the police that he had consumed six (6) beers between 6:00 p.m. and the time of his arrest. His subsequent refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or to contact anyone to provide him with transportation home prompted Trooper Mankamyer to contact the magistrate, "who suggested that the officer lodge the defendant in the county jail. The duty magistrate indicated that he was not available to provide the defendant with a preliminary arraignment." (Commonwealth's Brief at 5)

The defendant was housed in the county jail from 12:00 midnight until his release at 1:30 a.m. on the morning of November 15, whereupon he was driven home by two State Troopers. During his stay in jail, "no tests were performed . . . and no statements were taken from [the defendant.]" Id.

After the filing of charges, the defendant petitioned the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas for a change of venue. It appears that the case received extensive media coverage, prompted "mass meetings", generated letters to the local newspaper "condemning the defendant in particular and drunk driving in general and supporting the actions of the arresting ...


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