43 Me. 11 (Me. 1857), State v. Knight

Citation:43 Me. 11
Opinion Judge:TENNEY, C. J.
Party Name:THE STATE v. GEORGE KNIGHT.
Attorney:NOTE.--For the convenience of counsel for the defendant, and by consent of the attorneys for the government, this case was heard in the middle district, and determined by the judges who there presided.
Judge Panel:RICE, APPLETON, CUTTING, MAY, and DAVIS, JJ., concurred.
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

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43 Me. 11 (Me. 1857)

THE STATE

v.

GEORGE KNIGHT.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

1857

In all challenges to the jury for cause, the ground of challenge must be distinctly stated and entered upon the record.

By the provision of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it was indispensable that a doctrine of the common law of England should have been adopted and approved, and actually practiced upon in courts in the colony, province or state, in order to render them obligatory; and this provision declaring what laws shall remain in force excludes all others.

The common law practice in England in relation to triors in a challenge to the jury for favor, has been superseded by satisfactory provisions of statutes under the different forms of government in Massachusetts.

Challenges of jurors are allowed in criminal as in civil causes, and for similar reasons, and the court is the only tribunal which the statute has provided for their trial, whether they be principal challenges or challenges to the favor.

A question which may be answered in a manner to disclose evidence given before the grand jury cannot be proper.

A witness cannot be called upon to state his testimony given on a former occasion in a trial where the same evidence is relevant.

It is proper for a surgical expert who examined a wound to give his opinio?? of the character of the instrument that produced it.

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A witness possessing scientific skill may properly be inquired of whether there be a distinction--chemical, physical or microscopic--between the qualities of human blood and that of any animal.

A diagram approximating to perfect representation, when exhibited by a witness qualified to give explanation, may be used to illustrate his meaning.

The result of scientific knowledge and experience is proper for the consideration of the jury.

The court will not determine the truth or absurdity of such facts. If untrue their fallacy is to be shown by evidence of other experts who have made application of their scientific knowledge and experience.

The jury are not bound to disregard the testimony of a witness which they fully believe, because it is inconsistent with the evidence of another called by the same party; and the evidence tending to show the mistake of the witness, being properly before the jury, is the subject of legitimate argument.

Where the unlawful killing is proved, and there is nothing to explain, qualify or palliate the act, the law presumes it to have been done maliciously, and the burden is upon the accused to rebut the presumption.

Instructions in law applicable to the evidence in the case, should always be given, on request, but a judge is not bound to give them in the language used by the counsel making the request, nor to repeat them when requested, if once given.

The judge may properly refuse to give a requested instruction involving no question of law.

The defendant was tried and convicted of murder in the first degree, before Rice, Justice, upon the following indictment:

The jurors for said State upon their oath present that George Knight, of Poland, in the county of Androscoggin, laborer, on the sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, with force and arms, at said Poland, in said county of Androscoggin, in and upon one Mary Knight, of said Poland, she, the said Mary Knight, then and there being a human being, and she then and there being in the peace of said State, feloniously, wilfully, and of his express malice aforethought, did make an assault; and that he, the said George Knight, with a certain knife, which he then and there in his right hand had and

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held, her, the said Mary Knight, in and upon the throat of her, the said Mary Knight, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of his express malice aforethought, did strike, cut, stab and thrust, giving to the said Mary Knight, then and there, with the knife aforesaid, in and upon the throat of her, the said Mary Knight, one mortal wound, of the length of five inches, and of the depth of three inches; --of which said mortal wound, the said Mary Knight, then and there instantly died.

And so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do say, that the said George Knight, her, the said Mary Knight, in manner and form aforesaid, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of his express malice aforethought, did kill and murder:--against the peace and dignity of the State aforesaid, and contrary to the form of the statute in such cases made and provided.

And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do further present:--that the said George Knight, at Poland aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, in a certain bed-room within a certain dwelling-house then and there occupied by the said George Knight and Mary Knight, there situate, on the sixth day of October last past, in and upon the said Mary Knight, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did make an assult; and her, the said Mary Knight, in and upon the throat of her, the said Mary Knight, with some cutting instrument and weapon, to the jurors unknown, then and there, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did strike, cut, stab and thrust, and deprive of life; giving to the said Mary Knight, then and there, with the instrument and weapon aforesaid, in and upon the throat of her, the said Mary Knight, one mortal wound, of the length of five inches, and of the depth of three inches; --of which said mortal wound, said Mary Knight, then and there, instantly died.

And so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do say, that the said George Knight, her, the said Mary Knight, in manner and form aforesaid, then and there, feloniously,

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wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder; against the peace of the State aforesaid, and contrary to the form of the statue in such case made and provided.

When the name of the first juror was called, the counsel for the defendant challenged him for favor, and demanded triors to be appointed, according to the course of the common law, to hear and determine the question as to his indifference and impartiality. But the presiding justice denied the demand for triors, and ruled that in all cases of challenge for cause, whether for favor or otherwise, the question of indifference or impartiality must be heard and determined by the court, and the juror was sworn to make true answers, and was examined by the counsel on both sides, whether he had given or formed any opinion, or was sensible of any bias, prejudice or particular interest in the cause, and also whether he stood indifferent between the State and the defendant; and after the hearing, the court ordered the juror to be set aside, and another to be called in his stead, for the trial of the defendant.

Subsequently, when another juror was called, the counsel for the defendant challenged him for cause, and again demanded triors as aforesaid, which were refused by the presiding justice, and the juror was sworn and examined as before; and the court determined that the juror was indifferent, and refused to set him aside, whereupon the defendant challenged the juror peremptorily.

The forty-seven jurors first named in the list were called before the panel was made complete, and the right of peremptory challenge of the prisoner was exhausted when the forty-sixth juror was called. The judge stated to the counsel for the defendant, after the second demand for triors was made, that it would not be necessary to repeat the demand, as the point would be saved for the full court, whether the defendant, in such cases, had a right to demand triors, or whether it was the province of the court to hear and determine the matter. Other challenges for cause were made by

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the defendant, before the panel was completed; some of which were allowed and others were disallowed, on hearing before the presiding judge, under the ruling aforesaid. The government relied entirely upon circumstantial evidence to prove the guilt of the defendant.

The defendant's counsel requested the presiding judge to give the following instructions to the jury:

1. That the burden of proof is upon the government, to prove the whole charge as laid in the indictment.

2. That it is incumbent upon the government to prove the death of Mary Knight on or about the sixth of October, 1856, and in the manner and by the means alleged in the indictment, and also to identify the body found of the said Mary Knight.

3. That after the death of the said Mary Knight is proved, and the identity of her body is established by the evidence in the case, that then it is necessary for the government to prove that the said Mary Knight came to her death by the unlawful act of another person.

4. That " the possibility of reasonably accounting for the fact (her death) by suicide, by accident, or by any natural cause must be excluded by the circumstances proved."

5. That " it is only when no other hypothesis will explain all the conditions of the case and account for all the facts, that it can be safely and justly concluded that it (the death) has been caused by intentional injury."

6. That if the jury do not find from the evidence in the case that the said Mary Knight came to her death " by the unlawful act of another," that then the defendant must be acquitted.

7. That if the jury find from the evidence that the said Mary Knight came to her death by the unlawful act of another, that the question whether or not the act was perpetrated by the defendant, is a question entirely for the consideration of the jury, under all the circumstances proved in the...

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