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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT PETER ZOOK (02/02/89)

decided: February 2, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT PETER ZOOK, JR., APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Criminal Division, No. 1700 of 1985, Entered on February 19, 1987.

COUNSEL

James P. Cullen, Thomas G. Klingensmith, Asst. Public Defenders, Vincent J. Quinn, Lancaster, for appellant.

Henry S. Kenderdine, Jr., Dist. Atty., Joseph C. Madenspacher, Asst. Dist. Atty., Robert A. Graci, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Flaherty and McDermott, JJ., join.

Author: Papadakos

[ 520 Pa. Page 212]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Robert Peter Zook, Jr., was found guilty by a jury of two counts of first degree murder for the killings of Paul Conard and Sandra Wiker. A sentencing hearing was held as required by 42 Pa.C.S. § 9711*fn1 and the jury determined that Appellant receive two sentences of death, one for each of the two murders. This case is now before us on automatic appeal from the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 9711(h)(1).*fn2 Appellant alleges that twenty-five errors occurred below, nineteen at trial and six during the sentencing phase. On one issue, we conclude that Appellant's right to request an attorney under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), and Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981), reh'g. denied, 452 U.S. 973, 101 S.Ct. 3128, 69 L.Ed.2d 984 (1981), was impaired by the authorities and, hence, that his subsequent statements were admitted into evidence improperly. For this reason, Appellant's request for a new trial must be granted. The remaining allegations of error need not be addressed.

[ 520 Pa. Page 213]

Based on our review of the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the facts are these. On July 24, 1985, the bodies of Paul Conard and Sandra Wiker were discovered at 868 North Queen Street in Lancaster. The murders were very brutal, with both bodies having been stabbed, strangled, bound and gagged.

On the morning of Friday, July 26, 1985, several detectives of the Lancaster Police Department, along with the District Attorney, interviewed Marcellus Barnett and Timi Buterbaugh concerning information they possessed about the Conard-Wiker murders. The two individuals had arrived at the police station earlier in the evening and were questioned until about 1:00 or 1:30 a.m. Barnett told the police about his involvement in giving Appellant the layout of Conard's apartment and other information possibly linking Appellant to the murders. Barnett also related to the police that the Appellant came to see him after the murders and told him that he, the Appellant, and his confederates had forced their way into Conard's house by gunpoint, had tied up both Conard and Wiker, stabbed them, took guns and money, and left.

Barnett further stated that he believed that Appellant was staying at the Parkside Motel under an assumed name and that he was probably armed. (N.T., Pre-Trial Hearing, pp. 199-200, 219-224.) The police decided to place a stakeout at the motel in the event Appellant attempted to leave. Two police officers were sent to the motel at 3:00 a.m., were advised of the situation and were instructed not to do anything unless it appeared that Appellant was attempting to leave. The officers were informed that Appellant might be armed and dangerous. Appellant had registered at the Parkside Hotel on July 25, 1985, under the assumed name of James Long. At 6:26 a.m., July 26, 1985, Appellant left his motel room, and pursuant to their instructions, the police officers placed him under arrest. Appellant had in his possession a knife and a revolver at that time and two rings later identified as belonging to Paul Conard. (N.T., Pre-Trial Hearing, pp. 177-205).

[ 520 Pa. Page 214]

After Appellant was arrested, he was brought to police headquarters, and was later arraigned. Shortly after Appellant's arrival at headquarters, he was questioned on the ...


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