5 S.W. 257 (Mo. 1887), State v. Brooks

Citation:5 S.W. 257, 92 Mo. 542
Opinion Judge:Norton, C. J.
Party Name:The State v. Brooks, alias Maxwell, Appellant
Attorney:Martin & Fauntleroy for appellant. B. G. Boone, Attorney General, A. C. Clover and C. O. Bishop for the state.
Judge Panel:Norton, C. J. Sherwood, J., dissents. Sherwood
Case Date:June 20, 1887
Court:Supreme Court of Missouri

Page 257

5 S.W. 257 (Mo. 1887)

92 Mo. 542

The State


Brooks, alias Maxwell, Appellant

Supreme Court of Missouri

June 20, 1887

Rehearing Denied 92 Mo. 542 at 598.

Appeal from St. Louis Criminal Court. -- Hon. G. S. Van Wagoner, Judge.

The defendant, appellant here, was indicted at the October term, 1885, of the St. Louis criminal court, for the murder, in the first degree, of Charles Arthur Preller. The indictment contained three counts charging the crime to have been committed on April 5, 1885, in the city of St. Louis: (1) By chloroforming the deceased until unconscious, and then choking and strangling him to death. (2) By chloroforming the deceased until unconscious, and then suffocating and smothering him by enclosing him in a fastened trunk; and (3) by some means, unknown to the grand jury, in the perpetration of a robbery. The verdict was a general one of guilty, as charged in the indictment.

The testimony of the state in this case tended to show, in substance, as follows: The defendant, Hugh Mottram Brooks, under the assumed name of Walter H. Lennox-Maxwell, met the deceased at the Southern Hotel, in the city of St. Louis, on the third day of April, 1885, by appointment, there having been some previous correspondence between them regarding a journey in company to San Francisco, and thence to New Zealand, although no definite plan had been agreed upon. The defendant had been a guest at the hotel for several days prior to the arrival of deceased, and was apparently pressed for money, having endeavored to pawn his watch and sundry trinkets and to sell some stereopticon apparatus in order to raise money. The deceased, Charles Arthur Preller, had an unusually large amount of baggage, and seemed anxious to prosecute his journey westward without delay. On several occasions he displayed a considerable sum of money, made many purchases, and gave indications of being well provided with funds. The two men were Englishmen, apparently traveling for pleasure; the prisoner representing himself to be a physician, and the deceased being a commercial traveler. After Preller's arrival at the hotel, he and the defendant were inseparable, spending much time in the prisoner's apartment, and in the billiard room. Preller was rather reserved, but defendant was affable and communicative.

Preller was last seen alive in defendant's room, shortly after dinner on Sunday, April 5, 1885. On that evening and the following day, defendant told several persons at the hotel that his friend had gone to the country to visit acquaintances, and would return in a few days. On Monday, April 6, 1885, defendant made purchases of jewelry, wearing apparel, traveling equipage, etc.; displayed large sums of money; changed his appearance by shaving off his beard; assumed aliases; paid his week's bill at the hotel, and without notice of departure, took the night train for San Francisco, leaving in his room two trunks, one of which he had brought with him to the hotel, and the other he had purchased and sent to his room on that day. On the train westward he assumed the name of D'Auguier, representing himself to be a French officer, and on arriving at San Francisco, after spending the night in a brothel, embarked on a steamship for Auckland, New Zealand, as a steerage passenger, under the name of D'Auguier.

On April 14 following, an offensive odor in the room that had been occupied by defendant at the hotel in St. Louis, led to its examination. The new trunk stood on top of the old one, just as it had been left by the defendant. The lower trunk was tightly corded and strapped, so that it was opened with difficulty, and was found to contain the dead body of Preller, partially decomposed, and so cramped and distorted that the trunk had to be broken in order to take out the corpse. The body was naked with the exception of a pair of drawers having the name, "H. M. Brooks", on the waistband. The moustache and whiskers had been clipped off with scissors. Two gashes, skin deep, were upon the breast in the form of a cross. The eyes were swollen, and the tongue protruded from the mouth. On the inside of the trunk was a paper placard bearing the inscription, "So perish all traitors to the great cause," in the handwriting of defendant.

An inquest was held on the body, and an examination of the viscera by the professor of chemistry in Washington University, St. Louis, disclosed the presence of sufficient chloroform to destroy life. Defendant had purchased a considerable quantity of the drug from an apothecary in the vicinity of the Southern Hotel on Sunday, April 5, and an empty phial bearing the apothecary's label was found in the room, together with several other phials containing subtle poisons and dangerous drugs.

An information was filed in the court of criminal correction by the prosecuting attorney, upon the affidavit of the coroner, charging defendant with murder, and such proceedings were had as secured his apprehension on board the steamer off Auckland, and his subsequent extradition.

When captured, the defendant had in his possession about one hundred and twenty-five dollars in money, some jewelry of the deceased and articles of the latter's wearing apparel. The defendant then stated that his name was D'Auguier, that he had never borne the name of Maxwell, although articles having on them the name of W. H. Lennox-Maxwell were found in his possession. He also stated that he had never been in St. Louis, but a diary found in his pocket contained a memorandum that he arrived in St. Louis March 31, 1885, and left that place April 6, following. Defendant testified in his own behalf, that, on Sunday afternoon, April 5, 1885, in his room at the Southern Hotel, at Preller's request, he attempted to insert in the latter's urethra, a catheter for stricture, and that, with Preller's consent, and at his request, for the purpose of the operation, he administered chloroform with fatal results; that, alarmed at the probable consequences to himself; not knowing that, on a trial for the homicide, he would be permitted to testify in his own behalf; supposing the law to be the same here as in England in that respect, he stripped Preller's body, placed it in the trunk, and after taking steps to evade the authorities and prevent his identification, and after taking all Preller's money, he fled in the hope of escaping arrest and trial; that his subsequent conduct was due to liquor and mental distress.

Defendant moved to quash the indictment and to dismiss all proceedings against him on the ground that the warrant for his arrest was issued without "probable cause supported by oath or affirmation," for the reason that the complaint on which the warrant was issued was insufficiently verified. The jurat was as follows: "Sylvester L. Nidelet, being duly sworn, says the facts stated in the above information are true according to his best information and belief." The court overruled the motion and defendant excepted.

The facts referred to in the opinion of the court, as also in the dissenting opinion, concerning the defendant's confession made while in jail, were substantially as follows: One John F. McCullough, a detective, by the procurement, and at the instigation of the circuit attorney and his assistant, had himself arrested upon a fictitious charge of forgery, under the name of Dingfelder, waived preliminary examination, was indicted by the grand jury, whose advisory officer was the said assistant circuit attorney, upon the testimony of witnesses appearing and testifying before that body to facts supposed by them to be true, but known to said officials to be false; and was arraigned at the bar of the criminal court, pleading "not guilty" to the indictment. This was done for the purpose of placing said detective in jail, that he might obtain from the defendant a confession. He remained in jail forty-seven days and nights under these proceedings, and was put upon the witness stand by the prosecution, and testified, over the objection of defendant, to a confession of guilt alleged by him to have been thus obtained from defendant in jail. The other exceptions taken to the trial court's action sufficiently appear in the opinion.

The instructions given in the case were as follows:

"Gentlemen of the jury: By this indictment the defendant, Hugh Mottram Brooks, alias W. H. Maxwell, alias Walter H. Lennox-Maxwell, M. D., alias Theodore Cecil D'Auguier, is charged with the offence of murder in the first degree.

"This indictment contains three counts, and in each of said counts the defendant is charged with the offence of murder in the first degree.

"By the first count of this indictment it is alleged, that, at the city of St. Louis and state of Missouri, and on the fifth day of April, A. D., 1885, the defendant, with force and arms in and upon one Charles Arthur Preller, feloniously, wilfully, deliberately, premeditatedly, and of his malice aforethought, did make an assault; and that the said defendant then and there a large quantity of a certain deadly poison and liquid, called chloroform, feloniously, wilfully, deliberately, premeditatedly, and of his malice aforethought, did give and administer unto the said Charles Arthur Preller, with the intent that he, the said Charler Arthur Preller, should take and inhale the same into his body and lungs; that the said defendant then and there well knew the said liquid and chloroform to be a deadly poison, and that the said liquid and chloroform and deadly poison so given and administered unto the said Charles Arthur Preller by the defendant, the said Charles Arthur Preller did then and there take and inhale into his body and lungs, and that, by reason and by means of the taking and inhaling the said liquid and chloroform and deadly poison into the body and lungs of...

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