Com. ex rel. Andrews v. Russell

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore BELL; BELL; COHEN; ROBERTS
Citation215 A.2d 857,420 Pa. 4
Decision Date04 January 1966
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania ex rel. Charles E. ANDREWS, Appellant, v. Harry E. RUSSELL, Superintendent, State Correctional Institution, Huntingdon, Pa.

Page 857

215 A.2d 857
420 Pa. 4
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania ex rel. Charles E. ANDREWS, Appellant,
v.
Harry E. RUSSELL, Superintendent, State Correctional
Institution, Huntingdon, Pa.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Jan. 4, 1966.

[420 Pa. 5] Charles E. Andrews, in pro. per.

Joseph M. Smith, Asst. Dist. Atty. Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before BELL, C. J., and MUSMANNO, JONES, COHEN, EAGEN, O'BRIEN and ROBERTS, JJ.

BELL, Chief Justice.

This is an appeal from the dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus filed November 20, 1964. The petition was dismissed without a hearing by Order of the Common Pleas Court.

On April 29, 1954, relator while represented by counsel pleaded guilty and was found guilty by the Court en banc of murder in the first degree.

Relator voluntarily made a statement to the police on December 3, 1953, several hours after he had been arrested, in which he admitted the killing. This statement or confession was used at his trial, without objection by relator's counsel, for the purpose of determining the degree of murder and the penalty. Relator was sentenced to life imprisonment.

[420 Pa. 6] Errors alleged are: (1) Relator's confession was made without benefit of counsel,

Page 858

(2) relator had no counsel at the preliminary hearing at which he was held by a magistrate for the grand jury, and (3) a plea of guilty to murder generally is a plea of guilty to second degree murder and the Court en banc could not therefore find relator guilty of murder in the first degree. There is no merit in any of these contentions.

Relator's first two contentions are controlled by and disposed of, adversely to him, in Commonwealth ex rel. Johnson v. Myers, 419 Pa. 155, 213 A.2d 359; Commonwealth ex rel. Blackshear v. Myers, 419 Pa. 151, 213 A.2d 378; Commonwealth ex rel. Lofton v. Russell, 418 Pa. 517, 211 A.2d 427; Commonwealth ex rel. McCant v. Rundle, 41, Pa. 394, 211 A.2d 460; Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 416 Pa. 321, 206 A.2d 283; Commonwealth ex rel. Maisenhelder v. Rundle, 414 Pa. 11, 198 A.2d 565; Commonwealth ex rel. Hobbs v. Russell, 420 Pa. 1, 215 A.2d 858.

A plea of guilty to an indictment for murder constitutes an admission of confession of guilt of the crime of murder, with the degree of murder to be determined and fixed by the Court. A defendant cannot plead guilty to murder either of the first degree or of the second degree, but must plead guilty to murder generally. However, under the decisions of this...

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28 practice notes
  • Com. v. Ahearn
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 19, 1966
    ...to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the killing amounted to murder in the first degree: Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 215 A.2d 857; Commonwealth v. Kurus, 371 Pa. 633, 637, 92 A.2d 196; Commonwealth v. Jones, 355 Pa. 522, 525, 50 A.2d [421 Pa. 317] In Commonwealt......
  • Com. ex rel. Kerekes v. Maroney
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 15, 1966
    ...the Commonwealth to prove that the offense meets the requirements of murder in the first degree. Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 6, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966); Commonwealth v. Chapman, 359 Pa. 164, 167, 58 A.2d 433, 434 (1948). Similarly if the defendant desires to reduce ......
  • Com. ex rel. Kerekes v. Maroney
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 15, 1966
    ...the Commonwealth to prove that the offense meets the requirements of murder in the first degree. Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 6, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966); Commonwealth v. Chapman, 359 Pa. 164, 167, 58 A.2d 433, 434 (1948). Similarly if the defendant desires to reduce ......
  • Commonwealth v. Fears
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 19, 2014
    ...murder plea because “a defendant may not enter a guilty plea to murder in the first degree”), and Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966) (observing, in challenge to sufficiency of first degree murder conviction, “defendant cannot plead guilty to murder ......
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28 cases
  • Com. v. Ahearn
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • April 19, 1966
    ...to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the killing amounted to murder in the first degree: Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 215 A.2d 857; Commonwealth v. Kurus, 371 Pa. 633, 637, 92 A.2d 196; Commonwealth v. Jones, 355 Pa. 522, 525, 50 A.2d [421 Pa. 317] In Commonwealt......
  • Com. ex rel. Kerekes v. Maroney
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 15, 1966
    ...the Commonwealth to prove that the offense meets the requirements of murder in the first degree. Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 6, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966); Commonwealth v. Chapman, 359 Pa. 164, 167, 58 A.2d 433, 434 (1948). Similarly if the defendant desires to reduce ......
  • Com. ex rel. Kerekes v. Maroney
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 15, 1966
    ...the Commonwealth to prove that the offense meets the requirements of murder in the first degree. Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 6, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966); Commonwealth v. Chapman, 359 Pa. 164, 167, 58 A.2d 433, 434 (1948). Similarly if the defendant desires to reduce ......
  • Commonwealth v. Fears
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 19, 2014
    ...murder plea because “a defendant may not enter a guilty plea to murder in the first degree”), and Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell, 420 Pa. 4, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966) (observing, in challenge to sufficiency of first degree murder conviction, “defendant cannot plead guilty to murder ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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