Gears v. State

Decision Date29 March 1932
Docket Number25,154
Citation180 N.E. 585,203 Ind. 380
PartiesGears v. State of Indiana
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

1. CRIMINAL LAW---Evidence---Of the Commission of other Crimes---General Rule Stated.---The general rule is that evidence of the commission of entirely separate and distinct offenses cannot be received for the purpose of showing a disposition to commit the crime charged or that the accused probably committed it. p. 382.

2. CRIMINAL LAW---Evidence---Of the Commission of other Crimes---Exceptions to Rule Stated.---But there are many exceptions as firmly fixed as the rule itself, so, when the act constituting the crime has been established, then any evidence tending to show motive, intent or guilty knowledge if in issue, or evidence which directly, or as a natural sequence, tends to show the defendant guilty of the crime charged, is competent, although it also tends to show him guilty of another and distinct offense. p. 382.

3. CRIMINAL LAW---Evidence---Of the Commission of other Crimes---Reasons for the Admission of such Evidence.---Evidence of the commission of other offenses is admissible, not only to negative an innocent intent, but also to prove that the defendant committed the act constituting the crime with which he is charged; and such evidence is admissible on the latter ground, either because it tends to identify the defendant as the perpetrator of the offense or because it tends to show a scheme or plan on the part of the defendant to commit a series of offenses, one of which is the offense in question. p. 385.

4. CRIMINAL LAW---Evidence---Of the Commission of same Offense at Other Times---Held Admissible in Specific Case.---In a prosecution for stealing chickens, evidence of defendant's commission of the same offense at other times was admissible to identify the defendant as the perpetrator of the crime charged or to show a scheme or plan to commit a series of crimes of that character which included the crime charged. p. 385.

5. SEARCHES AND SEIZURES---Illegal Arrest and Detention---Effect on Subsequent Legal Arrest and Detention---Evidence Obtained by Search of Defendant Held Admissible.---The fact that defendant was arrested without a warrant and illegally detained in jail would not taint with illegality his subsequent detention after arrest under a legal warrant at a time that officers searched him, and did not render the evidence obtained thereby inadmissible. p. 386.

6. CRIMINAL LAW---Sufficiency of Evidence to Sustain Conviction---Review on Appeal.---Evidence held sufficient to sustain a conviction for stealing chickens amounting to grand larceny. p. 391.

7. CRIMINAL LAW---Circumstantial Evidence---Sufficiency to Sustain Conviction---Rule Stated.---The rule that circumstantial evidence, to sustain conviction, must exclude every reasonable hypothesis of accused's innocence is a correct statement of the rule for the guidance of the trial courts, but it does not govern a court of review. p. 394.

8. CRIMINAL LAW---Sufficiency of Evidence---Review on Appeal---Supreme Court must Leave to the Jury a Margin for Logical Grouping of Facts.---In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, the Supreme Court must leave to the sound judgment of the jury some margin for logical grouping of the facts for the purpose of drawing inferences of fact and for the utilization of these inferences of fact with other facts proved as the basis of further inferences of fact. p. 396.

9. CRIMINAL LAW---Misconduct of Prosecuting Attorney---In Making Improper Remarks---Held to be Cured by Court Admonishing the Jury to Disregard them.---A special prosecutor's remarks to the effect that acquittal of the defendant would be followed by civil suits against the parties responsible for the prosecution was not reversible error where the court duly admonished the jury to disregard the statements. p. 398.

10. CRIMINAL LAW---Instruction---As to Circumstantial Evidence---Held not Error.---An instruction in a criminal case that the State sought conviction "largely on circumstantial evidence" was not error where the corpus delicti was proved by direct evidence, especially where another instruction stated that the State sought conviction "on circumstantial evidence." p. 399.

11. CRIMINAL LAW---Instruction as to Footprints---Inaccuracy as to Location of Footprints---Held not Prejudicial.---In a prosecution for stealing chickens, where it was shown in evidence that defendant's shoe fitted footprints found near the chicken houses from which the chickens were stolen an instruction as to the footprints which inaccurately named an owner of property where a particular kind of shoeprint was found could not have prejudiced the defendant, the significant thing being the fitting of the shoe into the footprints and not the location of the footprints. p. 399.

12. CRIMINAL LAW---Refusal of Instruction---Not Error when Covered by Instruction Given.---Refusing to give a requested instruction on alibi was not error where it was fully covered by an instruction given. p. 400.

From Gibson Circuit Court; Claude A. Smith, Judge.

Omer Gears was convicted of stealing chickens amounting to grand larceny, and he appealed.

Affirmed.

Oscar Lanphar and W. D. Hardy, for appellant.

Arthur L. Gilliom, Attorney-General, and Edward J. Lennon, Jr. Deputy Attorney-General, for the State.

OPINION

Treanor, J.

Appellant was charged by affidavit, filed in the Gibson Circuit Court, with the offense of grand larceny, the substance of the charge being that, on July 3, 1925, the defendant did unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away of the personal goods and chattels of one John Schmidt 50 chickens of the value of $ 60. There was a jury trial, and the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Upon the verdict, judgment was entered sentencing appellant to the Indiana State Prison for not less than one nor more than 14 years, and assessing a fine of $ 100, and disfranchising him for a period of one year.

Appellant assigns as error the overruling of his motion for a new trial. In support of his motion for a new trial, the appellant specifies 50 causes. In his brief, only 42 causes are set out, and these causes are reduced under "Points and Authorities" to seven propositions. Our discussion will center around these propositions, but will not follow the order in which they are presented.

Appellant's first proposition goes to the question of the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict. We shall postpone consideration of this until we shall have disposed of propositions two and three, which present questions of admissibility of certain evidence.

Appellant's second proposition is as follows: "Having admitted evidence of theft of chickens on July 3, 1925, as charged in cause No. 25,154 . . . it was error to admit evidence of distinct and separate crimes at other times." In support of this proposition, the appellant urges that "the proof of other offenses or occurrences of similar nature is permissible only where the motive, intent or guilty knowledge of the defendant is in issue, or perhaps to identify the defendant." In Zimmerman v. State (1921), 190 Ind. 537, 130 N.E. 235, 237, Myers, J., speaking for this court, after recognizing the general rule that "evidence of the commission of entirely separate and distinct offenses cannot be received for the purpose of showing a disposition to commit the crime charged, or that the accused probably committed it," stated, as equally well established, the following proposition:

"But to this rule, from necessity to aid in the detection and punishment of crime, there are many exceptions as firmly fixed as the rule itself. To state the exceptions generally it can be said that, when the act constituting the crime has been established, then any evidence tending to show motive, intent or guilty knowledge, if in issue, or evidence which directly or as a natural sequence tends to show the defendant guilty of the crime charged, is competent, although it also tends to show him guilty of another and distinct offense. Frazier v. State (1893), 135 Ind. 38, 34 N.E. 817; Clevenger v. State (1919), 188 Ind. 592, 125 N.E. 41; Underhill v. State, People v. Thau (1916), 219 N.Y. 39, 113 N.E. 556, 3 A. L. R. 1537; Thompson v. United States (1906), 144 F. 14, 16, 75 C. C. A. 172, 7 Ann. Cas. 62; State v. O'Donnell (1900), 36 Ore. 222, 61 P. 892."

The opinion also quotes from People v. Molineux (1901), 168 N.Y. 264, 61 N.E. 286, 62 L. R. A. 193, to the point that evidence of other crimes is admissible when "it tends to establish . . . (4) a common scheme or plan embracing the commission of two or more crimes so related to each other that proof of one tends to establish the others; (5) the identity of the person charged with the commission of the crime on trial."

The foregoing propositions are supported both by reason and authority. (See cases and annotations in 3 A. L. R. pp. 1535, 1537, 1540; 27 A. L. R. 351, 357; 63 A. L. R. 595, 602.) The subject of admissibility of evidence of other offenses was discussed at length in the Ohio case of Whiteman v. State (1928), 119 Ohio St. 285, 164 N.E. 51, 63 A. L. R. 595. The following excerpts are from that case:

"In its last analysis the problem is one of relevancy. In all cases, civil and criminal, evidence must be confined to the point in issue and must be relevant to the issue," etc.

"The mere fact that testimony is logically relevant does not in all cases make it admissible. It must also be legally relevant. A fact which in connection with other facts renders probable the existence of a fact in issue may still be rejected, if in the opinion of the judge and under the circumstances of the case it is considered essentially misleading or too remote. The problem in the instant case is...

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