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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. HUMBERTO IONATA (07/22/88)

decided: July 22, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
HUMBERTO IONATA, A/K/A ALBERT IONATA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, dated March 25, 1986, at No. 1038 Philadelphia, 1985, affirming the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, dated March 15, 1985, at No. 5080 of 1984. 356 Pa. Super 588, 512 A.2d 51 (1986).

COUNSEL

Sandra L. Elias, Chief, Appeals Div., Ann Osborne, Asst. Dist. Atty., Media, for appellant.

Timothy J. Gorbey, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala and Papadakos, JJ. Flaherty, J., files an opinion in support of affirmance in which Nix, C.j., and Zappala, J., join. McDermott and Papadakos, JJ., file opinions in support of reversal in which Larsen, J., joins.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 518 Pa. Page 473]

ORDER

The opinion of the Court being equally divided, the order of the Superior Court is affirmed.

Opinion IN SUPPORT OF AFFIRMANCE

FLAHERTY, Justice.

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth from a per curiam order and memorandum opinion of the Superior

[ 518 Pa. Page 474]

Court, 356 Pa. Super. 588, 512 A.2d 51, which affirmed an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County granting a motion to suppress evidence in connection with narcotics offenses charged against the appellee, Humberto Ionata. The sole issue presented is whether items obtained by police during the search of an automobile driven by appellee were properly suppressed. The relevant facts are the following.

On September 7, 1984, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Detective Ceccola of the Upper Darby Police Narcotics Unit met with Cindy Wood after having received a phone call from Wood professing knowledge as to illegal drug dealing. Wood stated that she had received medical treatment for injuries inflicted by her boyfriend, the appellee herein, and that the injuries were inflicted earlier that day in the course of an argument relating to appellee's involvement with illegal drugs. In addition, Wood reported that appellee had been dealing in drugs for the past year at the apartment where she and appellee resided, and that, following the argument that day, appellee departed from the apartment to purchase drugs. Detective Ceccola was told by Wood that appellee was driving a certain automobile that Wood purportedly owned, and that appellee was expected to be returning with the drugs in several hours. Wood also told Ceccola that, following her argument with appellee, she had discarded some of appellee's drugs and related paraphernalia in the apartment's trash receptacle. This information was of timely importance to Detective Ceccola because, just two days prior, on September 5, 1984, Ceccola had received a phone call from a confidential informant of known reliability indicating that the informant had purchased drugs from appellee at the apartment in question.

After talking with Wood, Detective Ceccola immediately applied for and received a search warrant, at approximately 6:00 p.m., covering the person of appellee and the apartment. No application was made for a warrant to search the automobile that appellee was known to be driving, however,

[ 518 Pa. Page 475]

    despite its known role in transporting the drugs that ...


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