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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. CLIFTON CAMERON (07/06/89)

filed: July 6, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT
v.
CLIFTON CAMERON



Appeal from the Suppression Order August 23, 1988 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal No. 8701-2113.

COUNSEL

Deborah Fleisher, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Com., appellant.

Peter J. Scuderi, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cirillo, President Judge, and Melinson and Hester, JJ.

Author: Cirillo

[ 385 Pa. Super. Page 493]

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth from an order entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County suppressing evidence obtained in the search of an abandoned house. The Commonwealth has certified that the order substantially handicaps its prosecution of the case. See Commonwealth v. Dugger, 506 Pa. 537, 486 A.2d 382 (1985).

The appellant, Clifton Cameron, was arrested by Philadelphia police for possession of a controlled substance, and

[ 385 Pa. Super. Page 494]

    possession with intent to deliver. Police had made an arrest at the house in question on the day prior to Cameron's arrest. Police Sergeant Michael Perrone went back to the house the following day. He observed people going in and out of the vestibule of the house within a short time period in a manner which was, in his experience, consonant with the sale of narcotics. He called for assistance, and went into the vestibule, the door to which was ajar. He then knocked on the inner door, which he knew led to a room boarded off from the rest of the house, and announced himself as a police officer. Cameron, who was in the room, asked him to wait. Perrone could see packets of white powder lying on a table through a hole in the door. He saw Cameron pick up the packets, and drop them behind the couch. Cameron opened the door; while one officer remained with Cameron, Perrone searched and found packets of cocaine under the floor boards.

Cameron moved to suppress the evidence, claiming that a search warrant should have been obtained. At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the Commonwealth put on testimony of only one witness, Sergeant Michael Perrone, who had conducted the search and made the arrest. Perrone testified that he had arrested another individual in the house the day before the search in question here, and so was familiar with the property. He described the house as an abandoned rowhouse on Ruby Street in West Philadelphia:

There are two doors to the left and there is a door to the right. The door to the left, the outer door leads to a vestibule area. Then there is another door. This door leads to a room. This room is approximately 12 feet by 15 feet, and the room is sealed from what was the kitchen area of this property.

There is still an old sink and old range and some cabinets were in the back area . . . . There is no running water, but debris, ...


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