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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES MCFADDEN (01/30/89)

submitted: January 30, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
JAMES MCFADDEN, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence Entered on November 2, 1988, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, at No. 86-11-0719, 0721.

COUNSEL

Aaron C. Finestone, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Donna G. Zucker, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellee.

Del Sole, Kelly and Hester, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 446]

Appellant, James McFadden, appeals from the judgment of sentence of seven-and-one-half-to-fifteen-years imprisonment imposed following his conviction by a jury of third degree murder and possessing instruments of crime. The charges arouse out of the strangulation, stabbing and axe murder of Vanessa Bailey in her apartment in Philadelphia on October 2, 1986. On appeal, appellant claims that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his confession; (2) the trial court erred in permitting the admission of the murder weapons into evidence and in allowing

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 447]

    the prosecutor to cross-examine him about his confession; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the third degree murder verdict. We will discuss these contentions seriatim and will review the evidence introduced at trial in conjunction with our disposition of the third issue. We affirm.

First, appellant argues that his confession should have been suppressed since his waiver of his Miranda rights was not knowing or voluntary. Specifically, he alleges that the waiver was involuntary due to the following circumstances: he was intoxicated, his intelligence and education are limited (he is unable to read or write, having received only a first grade education), and he was intimidated by the police when they confronted him with statements that he made to his friends.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently commented on our standard of reviewing a suppression court's determination that a confession is admissible at trial. Commonwealth v. Edwards, 521 Pa. 134, 555 A.2d 818 (1989):

The suppression court, which hears the testimony, must decide whether the Commonwealth has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the statements of the accused were voluntary and the waiver of his constitutional rights was knowing and intelligent. Commonwealth v. Kichline, 468 Pa. 265, 361 A.2d 282 (1976). "[T]he determination as to whether a knowing, voluntary and intelligent waiver was effected is to be made by viewing the totality of the circumstances." Commonwealth v. Chacko, 500 Pa. 571, 583, 459 A.2d 311, 317 (1983).

Our responsibility on review is "to determine whether the record supports the factual findings of the court below and the legitimacy of the inferences and legal conclusions drawn from those findings." Commonwealth v. Goodwin, supra 460 Pa. [516] at 521, 333 A.2d at [892] 895; [(1975)] see Commonwealth v. Bundy, 458 Pa. 240, 328 A.2d 517 (1974). In making this determination, this Court will consider only the

[ 384 Pa. Super. Page 448]

    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. See Culombe v. Connecticut, supra 367 U.S. [568] at 604, 81 S.Ct. [1860] at 1878 [6 L.Ed.2d 1037]; [(1961)] Commonwealth v. Goodwin, supra 460 Pa. at 521, 333 A.2d at 895; Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, supra 429 Pa. [141] at 149-50, 239 A.2d [426] at 430. [(1968)]

Commonwealth v. Kichline, supra., at 280-81, ...


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