Commonwealth v. Aston

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtELKIN, J.
Citation75 A. 1019,227 Pa. 112
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. ASTON. (No. 2.)
Decision Date14 February 1910
75 A. 1019
227 Pa. 112

COMMONWEALTH
v.
ASTON.
(No. 2.)

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Feb. 14, 1910.


Appeal from Court of Oyer and Terminer, Lancaster County.

Benjamin Aston was convicted of murder, and he appeals. Affirmed.

See, also, 75 Atl. 1017.

At the trial the court admitted under objection and exception a statement of Paul Fornwalt, a codefendant, made in the presence of the appellant while the latter was in custody. The court also admitted under objection and exception the confession of the prisoner.

Defendant presented these points:

"(4) The confession of the defendant is not sufficient in itself to convict, unless there are such intrinsic, corroborative circumstances proved, as will, when taken into connection with the confession, establish the prisoner's guilt in the minds of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt Answer: This point we refuse. If the corpus delicti—that is, the crime itself; that is, the actual killing of Alfred Hallman—is proven to your satisfaction, and you believe the confessions made by the defendant that he was one of the parties who took part in the robbery, or planned the robbery, that he was at the house, and there is no other testimony to show it, that of itself would be sufficient to convict the defendant, and that statement of his would need no corroboration to justify you in such conviction."

"(6) Under the law, the jury cannot convict Benjamin Aston upon the testimony or confession of Paul Fornwalt, an accomplice, unless such testimony or confession is corroborated in some material points. Answer: This point we refuse. It is not the law in Pennsylvania that a person cannot be convicted upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice, though it is the duty of the court to caution the jury that such testimony should be taken with allowance. But the question does not arise in this case, as Paul Fornwalt has not testified at all, and what he said in the presence of the defendant at the police station on February 3d, and which was testified to you by Mr. Eshleman, the stenographer, does little, if anything, to connect the defendant with the offense charged, and the defendant has affirmed that some at least of what was said in that statement was true."

The jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder of the first degree, upon which judgment of sentence was passed.

On a motion for a new trial, Hassler, J., filed an opinion, the material portions of which were as follows:

"The fourth reason is that we erred in admitting the confession of Paul Fornwalt, made in defendant's presence, because he was not present voluntarily when the Fornwalt confession was read. It is not a question whether he was there voluntarily or not, but only whether he was at full liberty to speak. In Com. v. Zorambo, 205 Pa. 109, 54 Atl. 716, the rule is stated, when one, charged with a crime, is at full liberty to speak, but remains silent, and makes no denial of the accusation by word or gesture, his silence is a circumstance to be taken into consideration by the jury. In Com. v. Johnson, 213 Pa. 607, 63 Atl. 134, it is decided that statements made, in the presence of one accused of crime, can be put in...

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30 practice notes
  • Com. ex rel. Master v. Baldi
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • March 20, 1950
    ...of relator's confession was submitted to the jury by the trial judge. See Com. v. Lockard, 325 Pa. 56, 62, 188 A. 755; Com. v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 4 "An abuse of discretion is not merely an error of judgment, but if in reaching a conclusion the law is overridden or misapplied, or the ......
  • Commonwealth v. Vallone.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 30, 1943
    ...had been made in the presence of the accused after his arrest and 32 A.2d 891while in custody; 3 for example: Commonwealth v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 1019; Commonwealth v. Ballon, 229 Pa. 323, 78 A. 831; Commonwealth v. De Palma, 268 Pa. 25, 110 A. 756; Commonwealth v. Carelli, 281 Pa. 60......
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...The ruling below finds support in 20 Am.Jur. 458, section 540; Commonwealth v. Weiss, 284 Pa. 105, 130 A. 403;Commonwealth v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 1019, 1020;State v. Wells, 35 Utah 400, 100 P. 681, 683,136 Am.St.Rep. 1059,19 Ann.Cas. 631;Wilburn v. State, 141 Ga. 510, 81 S.E. 444;Irby......
  • Commonwealth ex rel. Master v. Baldi
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • March 20, 1950
    ...of relator's confession was submitted to the jury by the trial judge. See Com. v. Lockard, 325 Pa. 56, 62, 188 A. 755; Com. v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 1019. [4] "'An abuse of discretion is not merely an error of judgment, but if in reaching a conclusion the law is overridden or misapplied......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • Com. ex rel. Master v. Baldi
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • March 20, 1950
    ...of relator's confession was submitted to the jury by the trial judge. See Com. v. Lockard, 325 Pa. 56, 62, 188 A. 755; Com. v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 4 "An abuse of discretion is not merely an error of judgment, but if in reaching a conclusion the law is overridden or misapplied, or the ......
  • Commonwealth v. Vallone.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 30, 1943
    ...had been made in the presence of the accused after his arrest and 32 A.2d 891while in custody; 3 for example: Commonwealth v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 1019; Commonwealth v. Ballon, 229 Pa. 323, 78 A. 831; Commonwealth v. De Palma, 268 Pa. 25, 110 A. 756; Commonwealth v. Carelli, 281 Pa. 60......
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...The ruling below finds support in 20 Am.Jur. 458, section 540; Commonwealth v. Weiss, 284 Pa. 105, 130 A. 403;Commonwealth v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 1019, 1020;State v. Wells, 35 Utah 400, 100 P. 681, 683,136 Am.St.Rep. 1059,19 Ann.Cas. 631;Wilburn v. State, 141 Ga. 510, 81 S.E. 444;Irby......
  • Commonwealth ex rel. Master v. Baldi
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • March 20, 1950
    ...of relator's confession was submitted to the jury by the trial judge. See Com. v. Lockard, 325 Pa. 56, 62, 188 A. 755; Com. v. Aston, 227 Pa. 112, 75 A. 1019. [4] "'An abuse of discretion is not merely an error of judgment, but if in reaching a conclusion the law is overridden or misapplied......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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