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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ANGELO MANUEL DEBOOTH (08/29/88)

submitted: August 29, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ANGELO MANUEL DEBOOTH, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence October 29, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Criminal No. 1528/86.

COUNSEL

Charles D. Younger, Assistant Public Defender, Boyertown, for appellant.

Charles M. Guthrie, Jr., Assistant District Attorney, Reading, for Com., appellee.

Olszewski, Kelly and Hester, JJ.

Author: Olszewski

[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 525]

This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence after appellant was found guilty of murder in the third degree, aggravated and simple assault, indecent assault, corruption of minors, and rape. Appellant alleges that the trial court committed numerous errors and that there was insufficient evidence to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.*fn1

[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 526]

We find no merit in appellant's contentions and affirm the judgment of sentence.

On August 2, 1986, the body of sixteen-year-old Betty Jean "Cookie" Hollis was discovered in Schlegel Park located in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania. An autopsy revealed that Ms. Hollis had been sexually assaulted prior to being strangled to death. An investigation led to the eventual arrest of appellant, who was subsequently charged with criminal homicide, manslaughter, aggravated and simple assault, corruption of minors, rape and other related offenses.

On April 1, 1987, appellant was tried before a jury and found guilty of murder in the third degree, aggravated and simple assault, corruption of minors and rape. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was sentenced to combined terms of imprisonment totaling twenty-two and one-half to forty-five years.*fn2 Timely motions to reconsider the sentences were filed and denied. Appellant then filed the instant appeal.

Appellant initially contends that inculpatory statements he made to the police should have been suppressed. Two arguments are advanced: first, the statements obtained were the result of unnecessary pre-arraignment delay; and second, the statements were not knowingly or voluntarily given. We disagree.

In an appeal from an order granting or denying a motion to suppress, the role of the appellate court is to determine whether the record supports the suppression court's factual findings and the legitimacy of the inferences and legal

[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 527]

    conclusions drawn from those findings. In making this determination, the Court may consider only the evidence of the prosecution's witnesses and so much of the evidence for the defense as fairly read in the context of the record as a whole remains uncontradicted. When the factual findings of the suppression court are supported by the evidence, the appellate court may reverse only if there is an error in the legal conclusions drawn from those factual findings. Commonwealth v. Vinson, 361 Pa. Super. 526, 529, 522 A.2d 1155, 1157 (1987); Commonwealth v. Reddix, 355 Pa. Super. 514, 518, 513 A.2d 1041, 1043 (1986).

The pertinent facts surrounding appellant's initial claims were adequately stated by the trial court as follows:

At approximately 5:45 a.m. on August 15, 1986, defendant was arrested on a robbery charge unrelated to this investigation. Later that morning, defendant informed the Reading Police that he had some information concerning the death of Betty Jean Hollis. The police read the Miranda rights to the defendant and after he waived the rights he gave an oral statement to police which was later reduced to writing. Defendant initialed each answer on the written statement and signed it as being true and correct. This statement was given to police at approximately 10:45 a.m. that morning.

At 11:44 a.m., the police took defendant to the District Justice's for purposes of pre-arraigning him on the unrelated robbery charge. Defendant was then returned to City Hall.

After lunch, the police obtained another statement from defendant. The police again informed the defendant of his Miranda rights. After he waived his rights, the defendant gave an oral statement to police at 2:45 p.m.

The information gleaned from this interview led police to arrest defendant for the murder and rape of Ms. Hollis. The instant arrest occurred at 5:45 p.m. on August 15, 1986. Defendant was promptly pre-arraigned before District Justice Gloria Stitzel sometime between 5:48 p.m. and 6:40 p.m. that date.

[ 379 Pa. Super. Page 528]

After his arrest, defendant initiated a third conversation with police concerning the incident. This statement was also reduced to written form and was signed and initialed by the defendant. Defendant was given, and also waived, his Miranda rights before making this statement. Each of the aforementioned statements were later used at trial to establish defendant's guilt.

Trial court opinion at pp. 4-5.

Appellant argues that these statements to the police should have been suppressed because they were violative of the rule announced in Commonwealth v. Davenport, 471 Pa. 278, 370 A.2d 301 (1977), and Commonwealth v. Futch, 447 Pa. 389, 290 A.2d 417 (1972). According to this rule, where a defendant is not pre-arraigned within six hours of his arrest, statements obtained after arrest but before arraignment must be ...


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