Judges Opinions Public Notices, — August 25, 2021 9:59 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, August 25, 2021

Volume 59, No. 4

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

NOTICE OF PRIVATE SALE

ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION NOTICES

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Robert P. Uhler

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF FRANKLIN ARTHUR WETZEL, JR., late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Joshua A. Wetzel, Administrator

2064 Mile Hill Road

Sunbury, PA 17801

 

Joel M. Wiest, Esquire

Wiest, Wiest Benner & Rice, LLC

5 North Second Street

Sunbury, PA 17801

570-286-4022

 

ESTATE OF EVE MANBECK, late of Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Alletta Schadler, Executrix

 

John M. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

ESTATE OF CAROL E. WOLFE, late of Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Gary L. Wolfe, Executor

 

John M. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

ESTATE OF HAROLD A. BENDER, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Kevin S. Bender, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF JOHN H. GIBSON, JR., late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased July 21, 2021. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Lisa E. Scurci, Executor

 

Morgan Cassel, Esquire

624 North Front Street

Wormleysburg, PA 17043

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF DONNA K. WOLFER, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Ursula M. Wolfer, Administratrix

25 Limestone Lane

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Joseph M. Farrell, Esquire

201/203 South Railroad Street

P.O. Box 113

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MARCELINE C. WARNER, late of Mill Creek Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Robert J. Warner, Executor

 

Heidi B. Masano, Esquire

Masano ♦ Bradley

1100 Berkshire Boulevard, Suite 201

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF ELEANOR M. BAIR, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Curtis L. Martin, Executor

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

Attorney

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF JOSEPH J. SMITH, III, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Joanne S. Kreider, Administratrix

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF HARVEY WISE, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Nelson Ebersole, Administrator

 

George E. Christianson

Christianson Meyer

411 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, Pa. 17042

 

ESTATE OF BETTY M. GINDER, late of Heidelberg Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

David M. Ginder, Executor

3247 S. 5th Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF KENNETH L. BLEISTEIN, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Melinda M. Britto, Executrix

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF RUTH A. FIRESTINE, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Sharon Seldomridge, Executrix

108 Oak Street

Richland, PA 17087

 

Timothy T. Engler, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue,

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF JOHN F. LIGHT, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

James Houser, Administrator

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF ELIZABETH P. LIGHT, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

James Houser, Administrator

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

 

NOTICE OF PRIVATE SALE

 

In Re:

Petition of the Board of School Directors

of the Lebanon School District for

Approval of a Private Sale of Real Estate

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF

LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

CIVIL ACTION – LAW

 

  1. 2021-00138

 

NOTICE OF PRIVATE SALE

 

NOTICE is hereby given that on February 9, 2021, the Board of Directors of the Lebanon School District, filed a petition for the sale of the following tracts of real estate:

Northwest Elementary School containing 2.65 acres located on the northwest corner of the intersection of North Ninth Street and Maple Street in Lebanon City; and the second parcel of land containing .95 acres, adjacent to the elementary school building, the identified tax parcel I.D. numbers are 07-2336938-372822 and 07-2336473-372837, respectively.

The Court has fixed the 9th day of September, 2021, at 1:30 o’clock P.M. at Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas, located at 400 South Eighth Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17042, as the time and place for the hearing on said petition when and where all persons interested may appear and show cause, if any they have, why the prayer of the petitioner should not be granted.

 

Michael S. Bechtold, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042-0049

Phone: (717) 274-1421

E-mail: Bechtold@buzgondavis.com

Solicitor for Lebanon School District

 

 

 

ORPHANS’ COURT DIVISION NOTICES

 

Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County

 

Notice is hereby given that the following accounts in decedents estates, Guardianships and trusts have been filed in the Office of the Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court of Lebanon County, and that the same will be presented to the Court of Common Pleas-Orphans’ Court Division of said County for Confirmation NISI on

 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

At 10:00 A.M.

in Courtroom No. 1, Municipal Building, City of Lebanon

 

LIST OF ACCOUNTS WITH PROPOSED SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION FILED BY EXECUTORS OR ADMINISTRATORS

 

  1. LeBaron, Matthew C. aka LeBaron, Lebaron, dec’d., Susan LeBaron-Tonini, Admrx.,

John E. Feather, Jr., Atty.

 

  1. Powell, Eric L., dec’d., Janet E. Roschel, Admrx., Douglas W. Olshin, Atty.
  2. Spangler, Jane G. aka Spangler, Jane Galbreath, dec’d., Frederick Spangler, Exr., Edward
  3. Coyle, Atty.

 

All of the afore said accounts and statements of Proposed Distribution will be confirmed ABSOLUTELY as of course by the said Orphans’ Court except those to which exemptions are filed within twenty (20) days after the same are confirmed NISI.

 

Brian Craig

REGISTER OF WILLS AND CLERK OF ORPHANS’ COURT

LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

 

 

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that an application was made to the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for the purpose of obtaining a charter of a Non-Profit Corporation for Upholding the Line, which was organized under the provisions of the PA Non-Profit Corp Law of the Commonwealth of PA. The Articles of Incorporation for Upholding the Line were filed on July 13, 2021 and the purpose for which it was organized is to be actively supporting, encouraging and praying for law enforcement officers and their families.

 

Angela Fye

401 N. Mechanic Street

Fredericksburg, PA 17026

717-316-5492

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE is hereby given that Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Department of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 5, 2021 with respect to a proposed nonprofit corporation, Iglesia Cristiana de Avivamiento Jesucristo es el Rey, Inc. which will be incorporated under the Nonprofit Corporation Law of 1988. A brief Summary of the purpose or purposes for which said corporation is organized is: To be a church, Religious Ministry, Community Development Organization.

 

Luis Hernandez

1626 Cambridge Dr.

Lebanon, PA 17042

(717) 304-5976

 

 

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Robert P. Uhler

 

Criminal Action-Constitutional Law-Omnibus Pretrial Motion-Suppression of Evidence-Confession-Voluntariness-Manipulative Tactics-Law Enforcement-Totality of the Circumstances

 

Robert P. Uhler (“Defendant”), who was charged with multiple sexual offenses alleged to have been committed against a minor victim over a period of years, filed a Pretrial Motion to Suppress his confession to law enforcement on the basis that manipulative tactics by law enforcement render the confession involuntary.

 

  1. The Commonwealth has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a confession is voluntary.

 

  1. For a court to suppress a confession, the court must determine that the interrogation was so manipulative or coercive that it deprived the defendant of the ability to make a free and unconstrained decision to confess.

 

  1. In making this determination, the court must evaluate the totality of the circumstances surrounding the confession including the duration of the interrogation, the methodology of law enforcement, the defendant’s physical and mental state, age, education and experience with law enforcement, the conditions of the detention and whether the defendant was advised of his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

 

  1. Even when a court declines to suppress a confession as the result of an omnibus pretrial motion to suppress evidence, a defendant is permitted to challenge the voluntariness of the confession at trial.

 

  1. Once a defendant places the viability of a confession at issue, the jury may not assess the evidentiary weight to be given to the confession until or unless it first finds that the confession was voluntary.

 

  1. Pennsylvania law does not favor pretrial suppression of inculpatory statements, which generally is reserved for confessions obtained in the course of extreme police conduct such as withholding basic needs from a suspect, telling the suspect he will receive lenient treatment if the suspect confesses or threatening prosecution of a loved one if the suspect does not confess.

 

  1. Confessions have been deemed admissible even if law enforcement employs psychological tactics aimed at procuring a confession.

 

  1. Although psychologically manipulative, the questioning by law enforcement did not rise to the level of manipulation or coerciveness rendering the confession involuntary and warranting suppression pre-trial where Defendant was advised of his rights pursuant to Miranda, the questioning was relatively brief, Defendant was not handcuffed and was offered a beverage by law enforcement.

 

  1. Defendant will be afforded the opportunity to challenge the voluntariness of the confession at trial.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. CP-38-CR-0002-2020, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, September 2, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

 

COMMONWEALTH OF                             : 

PENNSYLVANIA                                       :                                                                                                                            :        NO. CP-38-CR-0002-2020

  1. :       

                                                                   :

ROBERT P. UHLER                                  :

:

ORDER OF COURT

 

AND NOW, this 2nd day of September, 2020, upon consideration of the Defendant’s Pre-Trial Motion to Suppress, and in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Order of this Court is as follows:

  1. The Defendant’s Pre-Trial Suppression Motion is DENIED.
  2. Leave is granted for the Defendant to challenge the voluntariness of his confession at trial.
  3. Both parties shall submit proposed jury instruction regarding the confession voluntariness issue. These proposed instructions are to be provided to the Court at least 72 hours in advance of trial

 

BY THE COURT:

 

                                               J.

BRADFORD H. CHARLES

 

BHC/pmd

 

Cc:     Megan Ryland-Tanner, Esquire// District Attorney’s Office

Jonathan R. White, Esquire// 2132 Market St., Camp Hill PA 17011

Court Administration (order only)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

 

COMMONWEALTH OF                             : 

PENNSYLVANIA                                       :                                                                                                                            :        NO. CP-38-CR-0002-2020

  1. :       

                                                                   :

ROBERT P. UHLER                                  :

:

APPEARANCES

 

Megan Ryland-Tanner, Esquire      For Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

 

Jonathan R. White, Esquire             For Robert P. Uhler

OPINION BY CHARLES, J., September 2, 2020

 

There are two procedural vehicles by which a criminal defendant can challenge the viability of a confession.  A defendant can file a pre-trial Motion to Suppress.  He also has the ability to challenge the voluntariness of the confession at the time of trial.  In the former instance, the law disfavors the exclusion of relevant inculpatory statements.  On the other hand, the law affords broad discretion for a defendant to challenge at trial  the voluntariness of his confession based upon manipulative police tactics.  In this case, we will afford defense counsel with wide latitude to challenge the viability of the Defendant’s confession at trial.  However, we will not prevent the jury from hearing the confession or the events that surrounded its utterance.  The reasons for our decision will be set forth within.

 

  1. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On or about October 11, 2019, a referral was submitted to the Lebanon County ChildLine Reporting Service claiming that a young lady was sexually abused by her father years previously.  As a result of this referral, police undertook an interview with J.U.  who is now late into her teenage years.  J.U. reported that her father sexually abused her on multiple occasions when she was between the ages of seven (7) and eleven (11).  J.U. asserted that her father inserted his penis into her vagina and committed other sexual acts as well.  J.U. stated that the sexual abuse stopped when she was twelve (12) years of age.

On October 18, 2019, the Defendant was arrested at his place of employment.  He was brought to the Lebanon County Courthouse.  Thereafter, he was interviewed by Detective David Shaffer and Chief Daniel Wright of the Lebanon County Detective Bureau.  The interview was recorded.  During this initial interview, the Defendant denied the allegations.

The Defendant was placed in a holding cell pending his preliminary arraignment.  As Sergeant Michael Depalo was passing by the Defendant’s cell, he initiated contact with the Defendant.  As a result of this contact, the Defendant stated that he would again speak with police.  Thereafter, a second interview was conducted during which Sgt. Depalo and Detective Shaffer questioned the Defendant.  Ultimately, the Defendant provided inculpatory information during second interview.

On May 29, 2020, the Defendant filed a Pre-Trial Motion seeking to suppress his inculpatory statements to Sgt. Dipalo and Detective Shaffer.  A hearing was conducted on July 22, 2020.  At the hearing, thumb drives containing videotape of the Defendant’s interviews were provided to this Court.  We watched those videotapes and will reference relevant portions later in this Opinion.

In addition to receiving the tapes of the interviews, the Defendant chose to testify at the Pre-Trial Hearing.  The Defendant stated that he confessed to engaging in sexual intercourse with his daughter because police appeared frustrated with him, because he was afraid of going to jail, and because he was afraid of hurting his daughter.  Following the hearing, the Court inquired with defense counsel about whether the Defendant’s voluntariness arguments were better reserved for trial.  Defense counsel responded that the persistence of police and their manipulative interview tactics rose to the level of rendering his client’s confession inadmissible at the time of trial.  As the defense attorney stated in his brief:

 

 

“Although the interrogation tactics used by Sgt. Dipalo and Detective Shaffer may not have overcome an experienced criminal’s ability to make a free and unconstrained decision to confess, here, it is evident the officers took advantage of the Defendant.  The officers took advantage of the Defendant’s lack of experience with police as well as the circumstances giving rise to the Defendant’s being in custody to manipulate and coerce the Defendant into providing an admission.” (Defendant’s Brief at page 6)

 

Trial in the above-referenced matter is scheduled for September.  We issue this Opinion to provide the parties with a brief explanation for our decision that the voluntariness of the Defendant’s confession should be decided by a jury.

 

  1. LEGAL STANDARD

In order for a court to suppress a confession, we must determine that an interrogation was “so manipulative or coercive that it deprived the defendant of his ability to make a free and unconstrained decision to confess.” Commonwealth v. Templin, 795 A.2d 959, 966 (Pa. 2002).  This standard must be evaluated based upon the totality of the circumstances surrounding the confession.  Commonwealth v. Nestor, 709 A.2d 879 (Pa. 1998).  When assessing the totality of circumstances, the court should consider a multitude of factors, including the duration of the interrogation, the methodology of the police questions, the defendant’s physical state, the defendant’s psychological condition, the conditions of the detention, the attitude displayed by the police, the age and level of education of the defendant, his extent of previous experience with the police, whether he was deprived of food, sleep, medical attention or water, and whether he was under the influence of any substances.  See, e.g. Commonwealth v. Perez, 845 A.2d 779 (Pa. 2004).  Also relevant is whether the defendant was advised of his Miranda warnings prior to his confession.  Commonwealth v. Yandamuri, 159 A.3d 503 (Pa. 2017).  Of course, the Commonwealth has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant confessed voluntarily.  Id.

Even when a court refuses to suppress a confession, the issue of voluntariness and coercion of a confession can still be challenged at trial.  Under the so-called “humane rule”, criminal defendants are permitted to challenge the voluntariness of a confession at trial.  As highlighted by our State’s highest Court:

“[The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure] provide that prior to trial, upon motion of the defendant to suppress evidence allegedly obtained unconstitutionally, a hearing shall be held to determine the admissibility of the challenged evidence.  If the evidence is found to be admissible, the defendant is foreclosed only from challenging its admissibility at trial; he may still contest the validity of such evidence notwithstanding its admission.” Commonwealth v. Green, 347 A.2d 682, 684 (Pa. 1975).

 

Stated differently, a criminal defendant may attack the voluntariness of a confession both at a Suppression Hearing and at trial.  Commonwealth v. Motley, 372 A.2d 764 (Pa. 1977).  Once the defendant places the viability of his confession at issue, a jury may not assess the evidentiary weight to be given to the confession until or unless it first makes a finding that the confession was voluntary.  See, Pa.R.Crim.P. 581 (J); Commonwealth v. Johnson, 354 A.2d 886 (Pa. 1976).

 

III.     ANALYSIS

There are volumes of decisional precedent regarding voluntariness of a confession.  Although we have not read every Pennsylvania Appellate case addressing the issue, we did review enough Appellate precedent to realize that pre-trial suppression of inculpatory statements are not favored by Pennsylvania law.  In fact, suppression of inculpatory confessions is generally reserved for extreme police conduct, such as withholding sleep, food or drink from a suspect, saying that he will not be prosecuted if he confesses, proclaiming that he will receive lenient treatment if he confesses, or stating that police will prosecute a loved one if he does not confess.  See, e.g. 11 West’s Pennsylvania Practice; §27:4 The Voluntariness of Confession.

On the other hand, confessions have been deemed admissible even if police employ psychological tactics aimed at procuring a confession.  See, Commonwealth v. Nestor, supra.  Moreover, the mere fact that a defendant is emotional and upset because he was charged with a crime will not vitiate an otherwise voluntary confession.  See¸ Commonwealth v. Davis, 454 A.2d 92 (Pa. Super. 1982).

A recent decision from Pennsylvania’s highest Court illustrates how difficult it is for a defendant to exclude a confession via a pre-trial Motion to Suppress.  In Commonwealth v. Yandamuri, supra, the defendant was questioned repeatedly during a sixteen (16) hour detention without being afforded Miranda warnings.  During this questioning, the detective did not allow the defendant to sleep, he declared on a Bible and his dead parents’ graves that the defendant was lying, he implied that the defendant’s wife could be arrested if she gave false information to police, and he placed pictures of the ten (10) month-old victim in front of the defendant.  Relying upon the fact that the defendant possessed a Master’s degree, he was offered food and drink, and he was afforded numerous breaks during the detention, Pennsylvania’s Superior Court upheld the Trial judge’s decision to admit the confession into evidence.  The Court concluded: “We agree with the Trial Court that, under the totality of the circumstances of this case, these [police] tactics did not amount to manipulative or coercive conduct that deprived Appellant of his ability to decide to confess voluntarily.” Id at page 525.  The Court reasoned that “not all psychological persuasion is prohibited.” Id at page 525.[1]

In its brief, the Commonwealth characterized the persuasive tactics employed in Yandamuri as “much more extreme” than the ones employed by police in this case.  We agree.

In this case, the police did employ psychological tactics in their interviews.  Examples include the following:

  • Several statements by police that the Defendant should “man up”;
  • Accusations by police that the Defendant was acting “like a dickhead” because he would not confess;
  • A statement by police that the Defendant had “one way to be saved.”;
  • A statement by police that the Defendant’s daughter should be believed and that “now is your time to be here for her.”;
  • A statement by police that it “feels good” to say what occurred.;
  • When the Defendant started to make half-hearted incriminating statements, police declared that to be “progress” and indicated “we are almost there.”

 

The psychological tactics used by the police such as those outlined above were successful in drawing out the Defendant’s confession.  However, we stop short of characterizing these tactics as “threats”, “coercion” or the type of “manipulation” that would “overbear” the Defendant’s will and cause him to dishonestly confess.  We specifically note that the Defendant was provided with his Miranda warnings and he indicated that he understood them.  In addition, the interviews by police officers were relatively brief when compared to the extended questioning that so often appears in voluntary confession cases.  Moreover, the Defendant was not physically handcuffed at any time and he was offered something to drink by police officers.  Although psychologically manipulative, the police questioning of the Defendant did not rise to the level of being “overbearing physical or mental coercion”.

Without question, we will permit the jury to assess the question of whether the Defendant’s statements were voluntary.  If the jury believes that the manipulative tactics of police did vitiate the voluntariness of the Defendant’s confession, the jury will be at liberty to disregard that confession altogether.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

In accordance with the Opinion outlined above, we will DENY the Defendant’s Pre-Trial Suppression Motion.  However, we declare in advance of trial that we will permit the Defendant to challenge the voluntariness of his confession at trial.  We invite both parties to submit proposed jury instruction regarding the confession voluntariness issue that will be submitted to the jury.

 

[1] The Court did make a specific point to note that the Trial Court rejected the credibility of the defendant’s statement that the detective made promises and threats against the defendant’s wife in order to garner the confession.

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