Edwards v. State, 19431.

Citation114 S.W.2d 572
Decision Date16 February 1938
Docket NumberNo. 19431.,19431.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas

Appeal from District Court, Brazoria County; M. S. Munson, Judge.

Charlie Edwards was convicted of murder, and he appeals.


Carlos B. Masterson and F. Cleveland Davis, both of Angleton, for appellant.

Lloyd W. Davidson, State's Atty., of Austin, for the State.

GRAVES, Judge.

The offense charged is murder, and the punishment fixed at death.

Charlie Edwards, a negro, was charged with the unlawful killing of Annie Edwards, his divorced wife. It appears from the record that the appellant in person entered a plea of guilty to the indictment upon his arraignment in the trial court, and that the court received such plea at that time. In the course of the trial the appellant introduced certain testimony relative to the condition of his mind at the time of the killing, as well as before such time, and after the appellant had himself taken the stand and testified, the trial judge withdrew appellant's plea of guilty from the jury, and, upon appellant's refusal to enter a plea of not guilty, the court entered such plea for him, and proceeded to charge the jury, among other things, relative to the insanity of the appellant at the time of the commission of the alleged offense. We quote from appellant's own testimony:

"I don't know sir exactly what happened on the 10th of May of this year at the time she was killed, because I wasn't at myself; I had some kind of spell or another. By `spell', I mean some kind of a crazy outfit; I had that kind of a spell twice, but not twice that day; it had been a pretty good while back since I had had one of them spells; it had been up in the fall when I had the spell before, along up in the cold time. I don't know what's the cause of them spells, but I had been having them before I left my home, I think; somebody did something to me years ago; gave me some kind of stuff to drink, some people down in the bottom did that, and they claimed at that time that they put some kind of dust on me. Really I don't know sir who put that dust on me, and really I don't know where they put it on me; I did not know the name of the party that put the dust on me, but it was the kind of a stuff that would make a man go crazy like; they slipped the dust on my head, and I had kind of a burning spell; I don't know who did that; I ran; I got away from there, and that is all that I remember about that; I don't know when that was; that was a hoodoo man that put the dust on me; he was a fellow called Jones. Jones did not put any of that dust on me later, and he did not put any of it on me at the time I shot my wife. I had a spell at the time I killed my wife; I think I must have had something on me then, because I wasn't at myself when I done it, I know I wasn't."

The appellant placed Adam McCoy on the stand, and he gave some detailed testimony relative to the peculiar actions of appellant while confined in jail, and finally concluded by saying, "All I can say is I guess he ain't got all his wits."

Appellant also placed his and the deceased's daughter, Julia Harris, on the stand, and she testified, among other things, "And at times he (the appellant) acted like he was in his real mind, and sometimes he did not, but kind of acted like some one that's crazy."

Upon the presentation of such above recounted testimony the court withdrew the plea of guilty theretofore entered by appellant, and, upon appellant's refusal to do so, the court entered a plea of not guilty for him. As demanded by such testimony, the court proceeded to incorporate in his charge, among other things, a charge on insanity at the time of the commission of the offense.

Such charge was properly and timely objected to upon the part of appellant's attorneys, and is also made the basis of his bill of exceptions No. 1. The court was correct in his procedure herein relative to such plea, and doubtless acted with the decisions of this court before him at such time. In Thompson v. State, 127 Tex.Cr.R. 494, 77 S.W.2d 538, such cause was reversed on account of the trial court, in a case of similar facts, failing to do just what this trial court actually did. In Yantis v. State, 95 Tex.Cr.R. 541, 255 S. W. 180, 182, Judge Lattimore said: "It was proper for the learned trial judge, when appellant had entered a plea of guilty, if evidence be introduced tending to show him insane at the time of the commission of the offense, to have the plea of guilty withdrawn and a plea of not guilty entered, preferably by appellant or his counsel; but, if they would not, then by the court for appellant." To the same effect is Taylor v. State, 88 Tex.Cr.R. 470, 227 S.W. 679; Harris v. State, 76 Tex.Cr.R. 126, 172...

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