Blanton v. State

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtANDERS, C.J.
Citation1 Wash. 265,24 P. 439
Decision Date31 May 1890
PartiesBLANTON v. STATE.

24 P. 439

1 Wash. 265

BLANTON
v.
STATE.

Supreme Court of Washington

May 31, 1890


Appeal from superior court, Whitman county; W. N. RUBY, Judge.

Moses Bull and C. M. Kincaid, for appellant.

L. H. Plattor, for the State.

ANDERS, C.J.

On the 16th day of December, 1889, the appellant, Benjamin Blanton, killed one Thomas C. Click, in [24 P. 440] Whitman county, in this state, by shooting him with a pistol. Upon the plea of not guilty, and the defense of insanity or delirium tremens resulting from long-continued use of intoxicating liquors, he was tried, convicted of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to be hanged. The defendant brings the cause to this court for review, and claims a reversal of the judgment of the court below for errors alleged to have been committed on the trial.

Although the indictment was not attacked in the trial court either by motion to quash or by demurrer, or even by motion in arrest of judgment, it was insisted on the argument in this court, by appellant's counsel, that it does not state facts sufficient to constitute murder either in the first or second degree, under our statute, and is insufficient to sustain the judgment of the superior court; and while it is to be regretted that the question was not raised at an earlier stage of the proceedings, and presented in the brief of counsel, still we are of the opinion that it is a matter [1 Wash. 267] which the defendant should not be deemed to have waived by his failure to urge it in the court below. The indictment, omitting the venue, is as follows: "Benjamin Blanton is accused by the grand jury of the state of Washington, for the county of Whitman, by this indictment, of the crime of murder in the first degree, committed as follows: That he, the said Benjamin Blanton, on the 16th day of December, 1889, at the county of Whitman, in the state of Washington, in and upon the body of one Thomas C. Click, then and there being, feloniously, purposely, and of his deliberate and premedidated malice, did make an assault; and that he, the said Benjamin Blanton, with a certain revolving pistol, then and there charged with leaden bullets, which said revolving pistol he, the said Benjamin Blanton, then and there had and held, and there, feloniously, purposely, and of his deliberate and premeditated malice, did discharge and shoot off, to, at, against, and upon the said Thomas C. Click, and that the said Benjamin Blanton, with one of the leaden bullets aforesaid, out of the revolving pistol aforesaid, then and there, by force of the gunpowder aforesaid, by the said Benjamin Blanton discharged and shot off as aforesaid, then and there, feloniously, purposely, and of his deliberate and premeditated malice, did strike, penetrate, and wound him, the said Thomas C. Click, giving to him, the said Thomas C. Click, one mortal wound, of which said mortal wound he, the said Thomas C. Click, then and there instantly did die; and so the grand jury aforesaid do say that the said Benjamin Blanton, him, the said Thomas C. Click, in the manner and by the means aforesaid, feloniously, purposely, and of his deliberate and premeditated malice, did kill and murder, contrary to the form of the statutes in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the state of Washington. Dated at Colfax, in said county of Whitman, the 19th day of December, A. D. 1889."

At common law, murder was defined as the unlawful killing of a human being under the king's peace, with malice prepense or aforethought, either express, or implied by law. 1 Russ. Crimes, 482; 4 Bl. Comm. 198. And there was no classification of crime into degrees, but all malicious [1 Wash. 268] homicides were of the same grade, and subject to the same penalty. It being manifestly unjust to punish him who kills another with only that degree of malice which is implied by law with the same severity as him who deliberately and premeditatedly takes the life of a fellow being, the legislatures of several of our states have changed the common law relating to murder, not only by dividing it into distinct degrees, but by specifically defining its grades, and prescribing corresponding penalties. Our statute defines murder in the first degree as follows: "Every person who shall, purposely, and of deliberate and premeditated malice, or in the perpetration, or attempt to perpetrate, any rape, arson, robbery, or burglary, or by administering poison, or causing the same to be done, kill another, every such person shall be deemed guilty of murder in the first degree, and upon conviction thereof shall suffer death." Code, § 786. And "every person who shall purposely and maliciously, but without deliberation and premeditation, kill another, every such person shall be deemed guilty of murder in the second degree." Id. § 790. Murder, therefore, with us, is now a purely statutory, and not a common-law, crime, and must be so considered by the courts; and, in order to constitute murder in either degree, it is necessary that there must have been a specific intent or purpose to kill. Under our statute, this is evident; but the difficulty in given cases is to determine whether or not this intent has been sufficiently expressed in the indictment. And the question now before us is, has this been done in the indictment now under consideration? It is insisted that the indictment nowhere charges that the defendant purposely, and of his deliberate and premeditated malice, killed the deceased, and that without such a direct and positive allegation it is fatally defective. The objection is well taken,...

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15 practice notes
  • State v. Kjorsvik, No. 57492-8
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 20 Junio 1991
    ...have consistently refused to liberally construe the language of a charging document to find a missing essential element. Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439 (1890) (issue raised for first time on appeal); State v. Dengel, 24 Wash. 49, 63 P. 1104 (1901) (failure to allege property of an......
  • State v. Webb
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 20 Enero 1899
    ...(Holt v. Territory, 4 Okla. 76, 43 P. 1083; Chappell v. State, 52 Ala. 359; State v. Dolan, 17 Wash. 499, 50 P. 472; Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439; Maxwell's Criminal Practice, 176-185; Leonard v. Territory, 2 Wash. Ter. 381, 7 P. 872; State v. So Ho Ge, 1 Wash. 275, 276, 24 P. 4......
  • State v. Leach, Nos. 56016-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 22 Noviembre 1989
    ...This formulation of the rule is supported by other authority. The Court of Appeals in this case relied in part upon Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439 (1890) and Leonard v. Territory, 2 Wash.Terr. 381, 7 P. 872 (1885) for the proposition that "the essential elements rule has always be......
  • State v. Leach, No. 21893-0-I
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 23 Enero 1989
    ...has the proposition that a charging instrument that fails to state an offense may be challenged at any time. See, e.g., Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439 (1890); Leonard v. Territory, 2 Wash.Terr. 381, 7 P. 872 (1885). Moreover, the rule has been applied uniformly to various kinds of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • State v. Kjorsvik, No. 57492-8
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 20 Junio 1991
    ...have consistently refused to liberally construe the language of a charging document to find a missing essential element. Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439 (1890) (issue raised for first time on appeal); State v. Dengel, 24 Wash. 49, 63 P. 1104 (1901) (failure to allege property of an......
  • State v. Webb
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 20 Enero 1899
    ...(Holt v. Territory, 4 Okla. 76, 43 P. 1083; Chappell v. State, 52 Ala. 359; State v. Dolan, 17 Wash. 499, 50 P. 472; Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439; Maxwell's Criminal Practice, 176-185; Leonard v. Territory, 2 Wash. Ter. 381, 7 P. 872; State v. So Ho Ge, 1 Wash. 275, 276, 24 P. 4......
  • State v. Leach, Nos. 56016-1
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • 22 Noviembre 1989
    ...This formulation of the rule is supported by other authority. The Court of Appeals in this case relied in part upon Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439 (1890) and Leonard v. Territory, 2 Wash.Terr. 381, 7 P. 872 (1885) for the proposition that "the essential elements rule has always be......
  • State v. Leach, No. 21893-0-I
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 23 Enero 1989
    ...has the proposition that a charging instrument that fails to state an offense may be challenged at any time. See, e.g., Blanton v. State, 1 Wash. 265, 24 P. 439 (1890); Leonard v. Territory, 2 Wash.Terr. 381, 7 P. 872 (1885). Moreover, the rule has been applied uniformly to various kinds of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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