Com. v. Koch

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtBefore JONES; ROBERTS
Citation446 Pa. 469,288 A.2d 791
Decision Date20 March 1972
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Morris Weatherhill KOCH, Appellant.

Page 791

288 A.2d 791
446 Pa. 469
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania
v.
Morris Weatherhill KOCH, Appellant.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
March 20, 1972.

[446 Pa. 471]

Page 792

James C. Hogan, Hogan & Scott, Easton, for appellant.

Charles H. Spaziani, Dist. Atty., Easton, for appellee.

Before JONES, C.J., and EAGEN, O'BRIEN, ROBERTS, POMEROY, NIX and MANDERINO, JJ.

OPINION OF THE COURT

ROBERTS, Justice.

Appellant Morris Koch was charged in 1969 with the murder of his wife Josephine, assault with intent to murder one John Erkinger, and wantonly pointing a firearm. After a jury trial, appellant was convicted of second degree murder and the other two charges. Post-trial motions were filed and denied 1 and appellant[446 Pa. 472] was then sentenced to eleven to twenty-four years imprisonment. This appeal followed. Appellant raises numerous contentions, none of which merit relief. Consequently, we affirm the judgment of sentence.

Appellant contends the trial court improperly denied his motion to quash the murder indictment. The indictment charged that appellant 'did feloniously, wilfully, and of malice aforethought, kill another person. . . .' It is maintained that the indictment was constitutionally defective, failing to give appellant notice that he was charged with first degree murder. Appellant's cotention rests on the omission from the indictment of any words indicating a specific intent to kill, an element of first degree murder.

The indictment was properly drawn in conformity with the Act of March 31, 1860, P.L. 427, § 20, 19 P.S. § 351, which provides:

'. . . it shall be sufficient, in every indictment for murder, to charge that the defendant Did feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, kill and murder the deceased. . . .' (Emphasis added.)

See Commonwealth ex re. Stevens v. Myers, 398 Pa. 23, 156 A.2d 527 (1959), cert. denied, 363 U.S. 816, 80 S.Ct. 1254, 4 L.Ed.2d 1156 (1960). Appellant maintains that the Act of 1860 is 'inconsistent' with Rule 213(b)(5) of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, 19 P.S.Appendix and has been 'impliedly' suspended from

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operation. 2 Rule 213(b)(5) requires an indictment to [446 Pa. 473] contain a 'plain and concise statement of the essential elements of the offense substantially the same as or cognate to the offense alleged in the complaint. . . .'

We find no 'inconsistency' between the Act of 1860 and Rule 213(b)(5) and reject appellant's contention. An indictment charging murder generally is adequate notice that the defendant may be tried and convicted of first degree murder and fully satisfies the purposes of Rule 213 to insure adequate notice of the charges. See Commonwealth ex rel. Kerekes v. Maroney, 423 Pa. 337, 340, 223 A.2d 699, 701 (1966); Commonwealth ex rel. Andrews v. Russell,420 Pa. 4, 6, 215 A.2d 857, 858 (1966).

Appellant further contends that the trial court's failure to suppress the written confession was error. A suppression hearing was held before trial and the parties stipulated that the trial court could rely on the evidence introduced at the preliminary hearing in making its determination. Appellant maintains that he had not slept for 30 hours before being taken into custody and his extreme fatigue and illness combined with other circumstances precluded a voluntary confession. Furthermore, it is contended that the police purposely delayed his preliminary arraignment in order to secure a confession. Appellant's challenge to the confession was resolved against him and its admissibility was not otherwise successfully challenged. 3

[446 Pa. 474] The evidence establishes that the police arrived at the Koch residence and placed appellant under arrest at 8:00 P.M. shortly after the shooting. He was then given his Miranda warnings. 4 Appellant was taken from the scene by the police at 10:20 P.M. and driven to the Bethlehem police barracks. Before leaving the scene of the crime, he was again warned of his constitutional rights. At the barracks, he was offered food and given coffee on request. There he was again advised of his rights and a written waiver was then executed at 12:00 P.M. Following this a written statement was taken and notarized. Appellant was taken to the house of Alderman Warg for a preliminary arraignment at about 1:00 A.M. There for the fourth time he was informed of his Miranda rights and formally charged.

While the record supports appellant's claim of fatigue, there is no evidence that appellant was ill. The element of fatigue on this record is insufficient to disturb the trial court's finding. Appellant was repeatedly and carefully warned of his constitutional rights and properly treated by the police. The trial court's ruling that appellant made a knowing and understanding waiver of his rights is fully supported by the evidence. See Commonwealth v. Jefferson, 445 Pa. 1, 6, 281 A.2d 852, 855 (1971); Commonwealth v. Abrams, 443 Pa. 295, 299, 278 A.2d 902, 905 (1971).

This record presents no evidence of purposeful delay of the preliminary arraignment in order to induce a written

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confession. Rule 118 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that a defendant 'shall be taken without unnecessary delay before the proper issuing authority' where 'the defendant shall be given an immediate preliminary arraignment.' The [446 Pa. 475] presence of 'unnecessary delay' in securing a preliminary arraignment is a factor to be considered in assessing the voluntariness of a confession. Commonwealth v. Moore, 444 Pa. 24, 30, 279 A.2d 146, 149 (1971); Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 429 Pa. 141, 153, 239 A.2d 426, 432--433 (1968); see Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449, 77 S.Ct. 1356, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479 (1957); McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332, 63 S.Ct. 608, 87 L.Ed. 819 (1943).

Appellant was arrested shortly after 8:00 P.M. He was not taken from the murder scene until 10:00 P.M. when he was then removed to the police barracks. By this time, he had been twice given his Miranda warnings. After being advised of his constitutional rights two additional times, he executed a written waiver and gave a statement. He was then promptly taken to an alderman for a preliminary arraignment at 1:00 A.M. The trial court's ruling that the confession was voluntary is thus fully supported by the record.

Appellant also contends that the trial court improperly admitted into evidence admissions made by appellant to police officers while he was being taken from the preliminary arraignment to the county jail. Appellant's counsel maintains that he was unaware that appellant had made these statements...

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57 practice notes
  • Com. v. Whitfield
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 1, 1977
    ...attorney) Yes, Your Honor." 16 See Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 448 Pa. 206, 218-19, 292 A.2d 302, 308-09 (1972); Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 477, 288 A.2d 791, 795 (1970); Commonwealth v. Beach, 445 Pa. 257, 259-60, 284 A.2d 792, 793 (1971); Commonwealth v. Brown, 444 Pa. 318, 321-22, 2......
  • Com. v. Sparrow
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 28, 1977
    ...as an aspect of the voluntariness inquiry. Commonwealth v. Eiland, 450 Pa. 566, 572, 301 A.2d 651, 653 (1973); Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 474--75, 288 A.2d 791, 794 In Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 429 Pa. 141, 155--56, 239 A.2d 426, 433 (1968), this Court, in an opinion by......
  • Commonwealth v. Barnett
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • July 31, 2012
    ...which could have been offered by the Commonwealth during its case in chief is not necessarily grounds for reversal. Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 288 A.2d 791 (1972). Evidence is admissible in rebuttal to contradict that offered by defendant or his witnesses, even though by doing so th......
  • Com. v. Petrakovich
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • December 5, 1974
    ...v. Sullivan, 450 Pa. 273, 299 A.2d 608, cert. denied, 412 U.S. 923, 93 S.Ct. 2745, 37 L.Ed.2d 150 (1973); Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 288 A.2d 791 (1972); Commonwealth v. Collins, 440 Pa. 368, 269 A.2d 882 (1970); Commonwealth v. Wilson, 431 Pa. 21, 244 A.2d 734 (1968), cert. denied,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • Com. v. Whitfield
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • August 1, 1977
    ...attorney) Yes, Your Honor." 16 See Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 448 Pa. 206, 218-19, 292 A.2d 302, 308-09 (1972); Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 477, 288 A.2d 791, 795 (1970); Commonwealth v. Beach, 445 Pa. 257, 259-60, 284 A.2d 792, 793 (1971); Commonwealth v. Brown, 444 Pa. 318, 321-22, 2......
  • Com. v. Sparrow
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • February 28, 1977
    ...as an aspect of the voluntariness inquiry. Commonwealth v. Eiland, 450 Pa. 566, 572, 301 A.2d 651, 653 (1973); Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 474--75, 288 A.2d 791, 794 In Commonwealth ex rel. Butler v. Rundle, 429 Pa. 141, 155--56, 239 A.2d 426, 433 (1968), this Court, in an opinion by......
  • Commonwealth v. Barnett
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • July 31, 2012
    ...which could have been offered by the Commonwealth during its case in chief is not necessarily grounds for reversal. Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 288 A.2d 791 (1972). Evidence is admissible in rebuttal to contradict that offered by defendant or his witnesses, even though by doing so th......
  • Com. v. Petrakovich
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • December 5, 1974
    ...v. Sullivan, 450 Pa. 273, 299 A.2d 608, cert. denied, 412 U.S. 923, 93 S.Ct. 2745, 37 L.Ed.2d 150 (1973); Commonwealth v. Koch, 446 Pa. 469, 288 A.2d 791 (1972); Commonwealth v. Collins, 440 Pa. 368, 269 A.2d 882 (1970); Commonwealth v. Wilson, 431 Pa. 21, 244 A.2d 734 (1968), cert. denied,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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