Finch v. State

Decision Date10 October 1944
Docket Number27981.
Citation56 N.E.2d 851,222 Ind. 633
PartiesFINCH v. STATE.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Appeal from Fayette Circuit Court; G. Andrew Golden, Judge.

T Ernest Maholm, of Indianapolis, for appellant.

James A. Emmert, Atty. Gen., Frank Hamilton, First Asst. Atty Gen., and Frank E. Coughlin, Deputy Atty. Gen., for appellee.


The defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to be electrocuted.

The murder statute provides: 'Whoever purposely and with premeditated malice, or in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a rape, arson, robbery, or burglary, kills any human being, is guilty of murder in the first degree, and on conviction shall suffer death or be imprisoned in the state prison during life.' § 10-3401, Burns' 1942 Replacement, § 2402-1, Baldwin's Supp. 1941. The indictment is in two counts, the first charging premeditated malicious murder, and the second killing in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a robbery. The jury returned a verdict of guilty upon the second count, and upon this verdict he was sentenced.

It is contended here that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conclusion by the jury that the appellant was guilty of killing, and that it is not sufficient to sustain the verdict that the killing was in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a robbery.

The evidence discloses that the victim, who was 68 years of age, lived alone in a small house upon his farm of 60 or 70 acres, located five or six miles from Connersville. He was found dead on a Sunday morning in 1938. He had been killed by repeated blows on the head with some instrument that was threaded on the end, like a bolt or pipe. No such instrument was found on the premises. There were indications that he had been killed early Saturday evening. The room in which he was found was a welter of blood and broken and disarranged household equipment. The house had been locked from the outside and the key thrown in the yard. It might be concluded either that there was a struggle or that the victim had been left badly injured but alive and had groped about the room seeking to help himself. There were numerous stubs of hand-rolled cigarettes on the floor, and household matches of a kind different from those found in the supply on the premises. The defendant smoked hand-rolled cigarettes. The victim did not smoke cigarettes. There was evidence that the deceased ordinarily carried money in a pocketbook from which he paid his current expenses. Neither money nor pocketbook was found on his person. More than $500 was found in a locked trunk in his bedroom.

It might be reasonably concluded from the evidence that the defendant was, as it is said in his brief, 'a general worthless no good character, satisfied with tobacco money, working for deceased now and then for a dollar a day.' A taxicab driver testified that on the Saturday night of the murder, the appellant chartered his taxi between 10 and 11 o'clock, and directed that he be driven to a tavern; that at that time he was clean and sober; that when the tavern was reached he purchased beer for the driver and himself; that he told the driver he wanted to go to a certain house and pick up a suitcase and then be taken to Cambridge City; that he instructed the driver to turn the lights off, and that if there was a light in the house not to stop; that there were no lights on in the house, and he went around the house and returned with a suitcase, and was driven to Cambridge City, where he said he wanted to take a bus. The bus had gone, and they went into a tavern and drank some beer. He asked the driver how much it would cost to take him to Richmond. It was then after midnight. He was driven to Richmond, and got out near the railroad station, and paid the driver $5.20 for the trip, and had quite a little roll of bills.

A woman friend of the appellant testified that he came to her house in Indianapolis the following Sunday morning, and later left to get his suitcase, which he brought to her house; that at the appellant's suggestion they went for a ride with her sister and husband; that the appellant paid for the gasoline with a $5 bill; that on Monday he came to her house again, and that they went to a theatre, the appellant paying the admissions; that after the show they were sitting in her house when a car stopped, and immediately the appellant went out through the kitchen and she saw no more of him; that he left his suitcase, and that an undershirt in the suitcase had two or three blood stains on the front of it.

The appellant was not apprehended for almost five years. He was arrested on another criminal charge in Ohio, and officers from Indiana went to Ohio with a warrant. He waived extradition. In conversation with the officers he first said he knew what they wanted with him, that he was wanted in Indiana on a desertion charge. One of the officers asked him if he knew of anything else he was wanted for, and he said, 'for the death of an old man.' The officer testified that at first he said he had forgotten the name of the man, but...

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7 cases
  • Parker v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 10 Septiembre 1981
    ...of the circumstances upon some other theory is sufficiently strong to raise a reasonable doubt of guilt. Finch v. State, (1944) 222 Ind. 633, 638, 56 N.E.2d 851, 854 (cases cited therein). We find that the evidence, though circumstantial, was sufficient. See Finch v. State, supra; Smith v. ......
  • Mims v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 18 Marzo 1957
    ...585]; Scharillo v. State, 1934, 207 Ind. 22, 24, 191 N.E. 76; Pettit v. State, 1935, 207 Ind. 478, 483, 188 N.E. 784; Finch v. State, 1944, 222 Ind. 633, 638, 56 N.E.2d 851; Inman v. State, 1945, 223 Ind. 500, 504, 62 N.E.2d 627. That was for the jury to say. It is the jury's function, not ......
  • Moten v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 27 Septiembre 1978
    ...250 Ind. 359, 234 N.E.2d 501. In so doing, however, the State may rely on the existence of circumstantial evidence. Finch v. State (1944) 222 Ind. 633, 56 N.E.2d 851. Steven Moten and James Franklin were charged with the shooting death of Earl Taylor. The evidence introduced by the State at......
  • Stice v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • 6 Febrero 1950
    ...89 N.E.2d 623; Christen v. State, Ind.Sup., 1950, 89 N.E.2d 445; Mandich v. State, 1946, 224 Ind. 209, 66 N.E.2d 69; Finch v. State, 1944, 222 Ind. 633, 56 N.E.2d 851; Thompson v. State, 1946, 224 Ind. 290, 66 N.E.2d 597; Dowty v. State, 1932, 203 Ind. 228, 179 N.E. 720; Wrassman v. State, ......
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