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Commonwealth v. Holden

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
134 A.2d 868 (Pa. 1957)


Facts

Cora Smith was murdered in her home, and Charles Holden (defendant) was charged with the crime. Holden maintained that he was not in Smith’s house on the night of the murder. When Holden was arrested, police took him to Ralph Jones’s house. Jones had been with Holden before the killing. In Holden’s presence, police questioned Jones about Holden’s whereabouts at the time of the murder. At trial, Jones testified that during the questioning, one of the officers saw Holden wink at Jones. Jones testified that he did not know whether Holden had actually winked or if there was something in Holden’s eye. The prosecution also asked Jones about a statement he had made to police. Jones stated that he believed that, by winking, Holden was trying to get Jones to make up an alibi for him. Holden objected to the prosecution’s line of questioning but was overruled. Two witnesses to the crime, Alfred Carter and Alfred Smith, identified Holden as the murderer. Both witnesses had been drinking heavily at the time and were later knocked unconscious by the assailant. The trial court convicted Holden of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison. Holden appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bell, J.)

Dissent (Musmanno, J.)

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