Hill v. State

Citation69 So. 941,194 Ala. 11
Decision Date30 June 1915
Docket Number691
PartiesHILL v. STATE.
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

Rehearing Denied Nov. 18, 1915

Appeal from City Court of Gadsden; James A. Bilbro, Judge.

Harmon Hill, alias, was convicted of murder in the first degree sentenced to imprisonment for life, and he appeals. Affirmed.

Defendant was prosecuted for killing Will Tidwell. He was killed on Thursday and his body not found till Sunday. The physician testified that death was the result of a gunshot wound in the left breast. A witness testified that defendant came to his house Friday morning and told witness that he had got his man, that he was sorry of it, that he had to do it, that the man's name was Will Tidwell, and that the body was up on the mountain side, and that he had covered it with leaves and stuff. It appeared from the testimony of the witnesses that defendant was present, like other spectators, when the coroner's jury was impaneled, and that defendant himself chose the jury by calling out the names of those who were selected. The other exceptions to evidence sufficiently appear from the opinion.

The following charges were refused defendant:

(B) Contradictory statements, if any, on the part of defendant, are not admissible for the purpose of showing the guilt of defendant, but are only admissible for and should be considered by the jury only to determine the weight they will give the testimony of defendant as a witness in the case.
(A) If, at the time of firing the fatal shot by defendant defendant reasonably believed that he was in danger of suffering death or serious bodily harm at the hands of deceased, and defendant was without fault in bringing on a difficulty with deceased, or if the jury have a reasonable doubt from the evidence as to the above proposition, they will find defendant not guilty.
(C) If the jury believe from the evidence that deceased had knocked defendant down with a rifle, and it appeared to defendant that he was in danger of suffering serious bodily harm, at the hands of deceased, or death, and defendant shot deceased, the jury must acquit defendant, provided they find from the evidence that defendant was free from fault in bringing on the difficulty, or if the jury have a reasonable doubt from the evidence as to whether or not defendant acted in self-defense as above defined.
(I) The defendant is a competent witness in this case, and you cannot capriciously disregard the statement of defendant and if you believe that Tidwell made an unprovoked attack on Hill, calculated to impress the mind of a reasonable man that Hill's life was in danger, then he had a right to kill Tidwell to save himself, and the law will hold Hill harmless and your verdict should be for defendant.
(E) You cannot convict defendant on the charge in this indictment for the reason that he let the body lie on the mountain from Thursday until Sunday without telling the officer.
(F) You cannot convict defendant because he said nothing to an officer about the killing.
(H) The burden is on the state to show by the evidence beyond all reasonable doubt that Hill, without excuse, and unlawfully, killed Tidwell, before they can find defendant guilty of any degree or homicide charged in the indictment, and, if the jury have a reasonable doubt as to whether the shot was fired with malice, they cannot convict defendant of murder in either degree.
(J) The law gives defendant the same right to protect himself from death or great bodily harm when an unprovoked attack is made on him at or near an illicit still, that he would have at or near a cornmill.
(G) If Will Tidwell went up to the still, and without fault on the part of Hill grabbed a rifle and knocked Hill down, and then attempted to shoot him with said rifle, and thereby led defendant honestly to believe that his life was in danger, or that he was in danger of great bodily harm, he had the right to shoot Will Tidwell, and the law would hold him guiltless.

W.J. Boykin and Culli & Martin, all of Gadsden, for appellant.

W.L. Martin, Atty. Gen., and W.H. Mitchell, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.


Appellant was convicted of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to the penitentiary for life.

On the trial many questions were sought to be raised on the admission of evidence. To the testimony of witnesses Ed., Elsie, and T.H. Hatfield, and D.D. Depositer, the defendant did not object before answer. After answer, motion made to exclude cannot put the court in error for admitting testimony responsive to the question. Pope v. State, 168 Ala. 33, 53 So. 292; Downey v. State, 115 Ala. 108, 22 So. 479; Rutledge v. Rowland, 161 Ala. 114, 49 So. 461; Kramer v. Compton, 166 Ala. 216, 221, 52 So. 351; Sharp v. State, 69 So. 122. If objection had been seasonably made to the questions before answer, in this case, the condition of the body of deceased was properly shown to the jury, on the questions, identity of the deceased, length of time the body had been concealed, and how it had been concealed, as shedding light on the corpus delicti. Sharp v. State, supra. At the time of the introduction of this testimony, the defendant had made no confession that he had killed the deceased, and its subsequent admission could not put the court in error.

The remark of the solicitor in the hearing of the court and the jury that, "It is a horrible thing to relate, I know," was promptly repudiated by the court as "an improper remark"; the court adding that "the jury will not consider it." It is to be regretted that one clothed with the power of prosecution for the state should make improper remarks before the jury, yet the prompt and decisive reproof, in this case, by the court, followed up by the exclusion of the offensive remark from the jury, was sufficient to render harmless the statement complained of.

The acts, declarations, and conduct of the accused, against interest, are always competent. At the coroner's inquest, before defendant was arrested, his conduct with reference to the investigation as well as his selection of the coroner's jury was a circumstance, against interest, properly admitted for the consideration of the jury. There was no error in permitting witnesses Depositor and Hatfield to testify as to what defendant did in selecting the coroner's jury. 7 Mayf.Dig. 312; Maddox v. State, 159 Ala. 53, 48 So. 689; Miller's Case, 107 Ala. 40, 19 So. 37; 4 Enc.Dig. of Ala.Rep. p. 184, § 258; Blount's Case, 49 Ala. 381; McManus' Case, 36 Ala. 292; Reeves v. State, 96 Ala. 33, 11 So. 296; Pate v. State, 94 Ala. 14, 10 So. 665; Henry v. State, 79 Ala. 42; Armour's Case, 63 Ala. 173; Johnson v. State, 17 Ala. 623.

The witness Mrs. Tidwell, the wife of the deceased, had testified of the conduct of the defendant shortly after she heard the two shots fired on the mountain, in the direction of the still, and of his coming from that direction and going to his home; and on cross-examination of the witness stated she never said anything about this conduct of the defendant for there was nobody else there to talk to, whereupon the defendant asked the question, "Nobody else?" and the witness answered, "I seen Mr. Hill's wife, I would walk up and down the road and cry, and she would walk up and down the road and sing." The defendant made no motion to exclude this statement of the witness, but asked the question, "When was it she would sing?" Witness answered: "During the time Mr. Hill was missing from home. I would walk up and down the road and cry and take on, and she would walk up and down the road and sing." Then the defendant asked the witness the question, "Don't you know Mrs. Hill was expecting to be confined at that time?" to which the witness replied, "She was in no worse shape than I was, if she was." Here the solicitor objected, and moved the court to exclude this evidence, and the court sustained the motion. There was no error of the trial court in sustaining the solicitor's objection and excluding this testimony. The answer of Mrs. Tidwell touching her conduct, and that of Mrs. Hill after the murder, would have been excluded on motion of the defendant. Defendant's failing to do this did not give him the right to proceed with a cross-examination introducing irrelevant testimony.

The defendant, as a witness in his own behalf, was properly not permitted to testify that he came to Attalla "intending to give up." Likewise the court properly refused to permit the defendant to testify that he and his mother were bothered, and that she advised him to leave home; or to permit the witness to testify that he did not want to leave home, or that he told other parties about it soon after the killing. All of this testimony tended to make evidence for the defendant.

The rules governing the introduction of testimony in criminal cases forbid the introduction in evidence of self-serving declarations and acts of the defendant, and the principle is sustained by a long line of authorities in this state. Oliver v. State, 17 Ala. 595, to Hill v. State, 156 Ala. 3, 46 So. 864; Williams v. State, 105 Ala. 96, 17 So. 86. The declarations sought to be introduced did not come within the rule of Goforth's Case, 183 Ala. 66, 63 So. 8.

The facts that the defendant had been "accused of selling liquor," and "that three indictments were pending against the defendant for running a still or selling liquor," were immaterial inquiries on his trial for murder. The court committed no error in sustaining objections to questions seeking to show these facts.

The witness E. V. Hall testified for the defendant that he was at defendant's house on the day of the murder; that when defendant came he was bloody and dirty and had a gash across his head about an inch and a half or two inches long. It would have been improper for the court...

To continue reading

Request your trial
42 cases
  • Brown v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 7, 1980
    ...687, 71 So. 469 (1916); Henderson v. State, 36 Ala.App. 143, 53 So.2d 624 (1951); and cases cited therein. See generally: Hill v. State, 194 Ala. 11, 69 So. 941 (1915); Sharp v. State, 193 Ala. 22, 69 So. 122 (1915); Matson v. State, 27 Ala.App. 396, 173 So. 612 (1937); and cases cited ther......
  • Nelson v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • November 12, 1986
    ...of appellant, and, hence, substantive evidence against him; the evidential weight of such evidence was for the jury. Hill v. State, 194 Ala. 11, 69 So. 941 (1915); Bailey v. State, 41 Ala.App. 39, 123 So.2d 304, cert. denied, 271 Ala. 696, 123 So.2d 310 (1960). The evidence of the Cash kill......
  • Kroger Grocery & Baking Co. v. Harpole
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • March 2, 1936
    ...between predicate and contradictory statements by witness is required. Holmes v. Holmes, 103 So. 884; Clifton v. Gay, 109 So. 168; Hill v. State, 69 So. 941; Sawyer v. Gilmers, N.C. 7, 126 S.E. 183, 41 A. L. R. 1184, 1192; 16 A. L. R. 726, 737. The testimony of the witness Cooley being comp......
  • United States v. Peterson
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 29, 1973
    ...McCrae, 148 U.S.App.D.C. 116, 459 F.2d 1140 (1972). Cases in other jurisdictions are to the same effect. E.g., Hill v. State, 194 Ala. 11, 69 So. 941, 946-947, 2 A.L.R. 509 (1915); State v. Haffa, 246 Iowa 1275, 71 N.W.2d 35, 43, cert. denied, 350 U.S. 914, 76 S.Ct. 198, 100 L.Ed. 801 (1955......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT