Griffiths v. State

Decision Date29 November 1904
Docket Number20,465
Citation72 N.E. 563,163 Ind. 555
PartiesGriffiths v. The State
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

From Elkhart Circuit Court; William J. Davis, Special Judge.

Prosecution by the State against John Griffiths for larceny. From a judgment rendered on a verdict of guilty, the defendant appeals.


J. S Dodge and J. S. Dodge, Jr., for appellant.

C. W Miller, Attorney-General, C. C. Hadley, L. G. Rothschild and W. C. Geake, for the State.


Gillett, J.

Appellant was charged by affidavit and information with the larceny of one coat and three vests. The ownership was laid in the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Company. There was a verdict of guilty, and, over a motion for a new trial, appellant was sentenced to imprisonment in the Indiana Reformatory, and was also fined and disfranchised.

It is claimed by appellant's counsel that there was no evidence of ownership as charged, and it is therefore urged that the court should have given a peremptory instruction, which was tendered by appellant, to return a verdict of not guilty.

It appears from the evidence that on December 28, 1903, the firm of Hart, Schaffner & Marx shipped a box containing one coat and three vests, with other clothing, from their factory in Rochester, New York, to their wholesale house in Chicago, Illinois. The goods were shipped in a car marked "N. Y. & C., 14,051." On the night of January 4, 1904, this car was broken open, in the railroad yards at Elkhart, Indiana, while en route to Chicago, and the articles of clothing particularly heretofore mentioned were stolen from the box in said car. In addition to the evidence stated, an employe of Hart, Schaffner & Marx testified that the box of clothing was shipped on the "Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway." Witnesses who described themselves as employes of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Company, testified to facts showing a larceny of a coat and three vests from said box while it was in said car; and, in their testimony, said witnesses referred to the car as being at that time in the "Lake Shore Yards." A witness (Henry C. Lards) described himself at the outset of his testimony as a "special agent for the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Company." It appears from his evidence that about ten days after the larceny he was detailed to look into the circumstances of the theft, and to endeavor to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator. After prosecuting inquiries at Elkhart, Lards caused the arrest of appellant, and it appears without contradiction that the latter confessed to the larceny of a coat and three vests from a car "up there in the yard." On his direct examination the witness testified that prior to the time the clothing was stolen it was in the "custody of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Company." On cross-examination the witness was asked this question: "Now, Mr. Lards, you spoke of that coat and vests. You don't know whether they were in the possession of the Lake Shore Railway, or not, do you, excepting what the defendant told you?" The witness answered: "Why, what the defendant and Hart, Schaffner & Marx told me." The question and answer last mentioned evidently referred to what the witness had testified to in his direct examination relative to the custody of the goods. Appellant did not call a witness. There was nothing to modify or even to restrain such inferences as the jury might have been warranted in drawing from the testimony upon the question of ownership. As to all other points the evidence was ample and uncontradicted. It being evident that the terms used by the witnesses, other than Lards, in referring to the railroad, were used as familiar appellations, and as there is a striking similarity between all of such references and the name "Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Company," which the evidence shows to have been an existing corporation or company, we are of opinion that it was competent for the jury to infer that it was the bailee from whose custody the goods were stolen. See Evansville, etc., R. Co. v. Snapp (1878), 61 Ind. 303; Evansville, etc., R. Co. v. Smith (1878), 65 Ind. 92; Wabash R. Co. v. Forshee (1881), 77 Ind. 158; Cincinnati, etc., R. Co. v. McDougall (1886), 108 Ind. 179, 8 N.E. 571.

In dealing with the question as to the effect of the evidence we have thus far laid no stress on the confession of appellant. If it were competent for the jury to make use of the self-disserving statement which the evidence shows that he made to the witness Lards relative to the company's custody of the goods, there could be no question as to the evidence warranting a conviction. We are mindful of the rule that the extrajudicial confession of a defendant is not alone sufficient to make out the corpus delicti, and that as applied to a prosecution for larceny it is required...

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3 cases
  • Toledo, St.L.&W.R. Co. v. Fenstermaker
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • November 29, 1904
  • Griffiths v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • November 29, 1904
    ...163 Ind. 55572 N.E. 563GRIFFITHSv.STATE.No. 20,465.Supreme Court of Indiana.Nov. 29, Appeal from Circuit Court, Elkhart County; W. J. Davis, Special Judge. John Griffiths was convicted of larceny, and he appeals. Affirmed. [72 N.E. 564]Dodge & Dodge, for appellant. C. W. Miller, Atty. Gen.,......
  • Toledo, St. Louis & Western Railroad Company v. Fenstermaker
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • November 29, 1904
    ... ... objection of appellant, to answer the following [163 Ind ... 540] question: "State what that farm was worth ... immediately before that fire?" The witness answered that ... the farm was worth $ 80 or $ 90 per acre before the fire, ... ...

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