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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. MICHAEL CEPHAS (03/04/87)

filed: March 4, 1987.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
MICHAEL CEPHAS



Appeal from the Order of July 18, 1984, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No. 83-11-221-226.

COUNSEL

Sarah Vandenbraak, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Jules Epstein, Assistant Public Defender, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Wickersham, Olszewski and Beck, JJ. Olszewski, J., files a concurring opinion.

Author: Beck

[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 161]

The Commonwealth appeals an order granting a suppression motion. The court suppressed appellee's statements after finding that appellee did not knowingly waive his privilege against self-incrimination. We affirm.

Appellee was arrested on October 7, 1983 and charged with rape, indecent assault, indecent exposure, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats, and simple assault. He moved to suppress two statements made to police during custodial interrogation. After a hearing, the motion was granted. The Commonwealth petitioned the court to reconsider. The court vacated its order pending reconsideration. The court denied the petition and reinstated its order granting the motion to suppress. This timely appeal followed.

Initially, we note that we have jurisdiction of this appeal from a pre-trial suppression order because the Commonwealth certified in good faith that the order terminated or substantially handicapped its prosecution. Commonwealth v. Dugger, 506 Pa. 537, 486 A.2d 382 (1985).

Appellee was arrested on the basis of the victim's description. He was taken to the Sex Crimes Unit of the Philadelphia Police. At the time of his arrest, appellee was a street person living in an alley near his foster family's home. He had a long history of mental illness and hospitalization for this illness. He had consistently been diagnosed as a schizophrenic. His most recent hospitalization was about two weeks before his arrest after he was seen in a tree near an elementary school screaming at the school children and yelling for the principal to meet his demands.

[ 361 Pa. Super. Page 162]

Appellee was known to the police to be suffering from mental illness. When the arresting officers came to observe the alley where appellee lived, his foster sister begged the officer to find help for appellee and to have him put away somewhere for his mental illness.

Upon his arrival at the Sex Crimes Unit, appellee was interviewed for background information. He was placed in handcuffs in a small detention room. He exhibited bizarre and psychotic behavior. The entire time he was in the detention room, he kicked the walls and the door, and he kept yelling inane comments, including that he was Ed Rendell's son and that he had dinner with Mr. Rendell the night before at Mr. Rendell's home. Mr. Rendell is the former District Attorney of Philadelphia and he is white. Appellee is black.

Appellee was initially interrogated in an office by a detective who knew that appellee suffered from mental illness. During this interrogation, appellee acted childishly. He refused to sit unless given a cigarette or soda and cookies. The detective ceased the interrogation and returned ...


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