355 U.S. 28 (1957), 139, Alcorta v. Texas

Docket Nº:No. 139
Citation:355 U.S. 28, 78 S.Ct. 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 9
Party Name:Alcorta v. Texas
Case Date:November 12, 1957
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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355 U.S. 28 (1957)

78 S.Ct. 103, 2 L.Ed.2d 9

Alcorta

v.

Texas

No. 139

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 12, 1957

Argued October 23, 1957

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OF TEXAS

Syllabus

In a Texas state court, petitioner was convicted of murdering his wife, and was sentenced to death. At his trial, he admitted the killing, but claimed it occurred in a fit of passion when he discovered his wife, whom he had already suspected of marital infidelity, kissing another man late at night in a parked car. Had this claim been accepted by the jury, it could have found him guilty of "murder without malice," which, under a Texas statute, was punishable by a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment. The other man testified at the trial that his relationship with petitioner's wife was nothing more than a casual friendship, and that he had simply driven her home from work a few times. In a subsequent habeas corpus proceeding, the other man confessed to having had sexual intercourse with petitioner's wife on several occasions, and testified that he had informed the prosecutor of this before the trial, and that the prosecutor had told him he should not volunteer any information about it. The prosecutor admitted that these statements were true. Petitions for writs of habeas corpus were denied both by the trial court and by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Held: petitioner was denied due process of law; the judgment denying a writ of habeas corpus is reversed; and the cause is remanded. Pp. 28-32.

Reversed and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner, Alvaro Alcorta, was indicted for murder in a Texas state court for stabbing his wife to death. Vernon's Tex.Pen.Code, 1948, Art. 1256. He admitted the killing, but claimed it occurred in a fit of passion when

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he discovered his wife, whom he had already suspected of marital infidelity, kissing one Castilleja late at night in a parked car. Petitioner relied on Texas statutes which treat killing under the influence of a

sudden passion arising from an adequate cause . . . as would commonly produce a degree of anger, rage, resentment, or terror in a person of ordinary temper sufficient to render the mind incapable of cool reflection

as murder without malice, punishable by a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment. Vernon's Tex.Pen.Code, 1948, Arts...

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