8 So. 812 (Ala. 1891), Griffith v. State

Citation:8 So. 812, 90 Ala. 583
Opinion Judge:CLOPTON, J.
Attorney:D. D. Shelby and W. L. Clay, for appellant. W. L. Martin, Atty. Gen., for the State.
Case Date:January 29, 1891
Court:Supreme Court of Alabama

Page 812

8 So. 812 (Ala. 1891)

90 Ala. 583




Supreme Court of Alabama

January 29, 1891

Appeal from circuit court, Madison county; H. C. SPEAKE, Judge.

Indictment for murder containing two counts, each charging the defendants, George Griffith, John Robertson, and Martha Miller, with the murder of two infant children, whose names were to the grand jury unknown; the first count charging that they were murdered "by taking them from the house, and leaving them exposed in the woods, whereby they died;" and the second charge, "by leaving them in the woods, whereby they died from starvation." Each count alleged that the names of the infants were unknown to the grand jury, and contained no descriptive or identifying words; and the second count alleged that they were killed unlawfully, and with malice "aforethou," instead of "aforethought." Defendant demurred to each count of the indictment, because it charged two distinct offenses, and because the infants were not sufficiently described or identified; and specially to the second count, because it did not allege that the offense was committed with malice afore thought. The court overruled the demurrer, and the defendant then moved the court that the prosecution be compelled to elect on which count it would proceed; and he renewed this motion after the evidence was closed, duly excepting to its refusal. A severance having been granted, and George Griffith being on trial alone, he pleaded not guilty, but was convicted of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to the penitentiary for the term of 12 years. On the trial, the state introduced evidence showing that in May, 1890, the dead bodies of two infant children, about two weeks old, were found under an oak tree near Trinity Church, in Madison county, wrapped up in an old shawl, and exhibiting no marks of violence; and that they were the illegitimate children (twins) of Dee Griffith, who was a step-daughter of the defendant, and who lived with him at Fayetteville, Tenn. Dee Griffith testified, on the part of the state, that in April, 1890, the defendant carried her in a buggy from Fayetteville "to go to his brother's, in Madison county, Ala., where she expected to remain until after her confinement; but they stopped at the house of one Jordan Richardson, where she remained until after her confinement, giving birth to twins,-a boy and a girl; that the effect of poison-oak in her system broke out on her afterwards, and her milk began to disagree with the children; that after talking the matter over with Martha Miller, the mid wife, and her step-father, they concluded it would be best to get a wet-nurse for them; that when the children were about two weeks old her step-father came to the house with John Robertson, and proposed to give the children to him, saying that he had a sister living near Huntsville, who would nurse them; and that defendant, with John Robertson and Martha Miller, took the children, and carried them off." The witness admitted that the defendant had given her a bottle of medicine to cause an abortion, and was then asked by the solicitor if the defendant had not threatened to smother the child if it should be born alive...

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