Jones v. Commonwealth

Citation111 Va. 862, 69 S.E. 953
Case DateJanuary 12, 1911
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

69 S.E. 953
111 Va. 862


Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.

Jan. 12, 1911.

1. Criminal Law (§ 126*)—Change of Venue—Homicide—Local Prejudice.

Where one of those accused of a homicide was taken from the custody of the deputy sheriff, who had arrested him without a warrant, by a mob, which nearly killed him in attempting to extort a confession, and citizens occupying responsible official positions had refused to answer questions concerning this affair on the ground of self-incrimination, though maintaining that accused could receive a fair trial, and newspapers published intemperate editorials demanding conviction, the state of feeling was such that the situation would not have been relieved by importing a jury from another county, and a change of venue should have been granted.

[Ed. Note.—For other cases, see Criminal Law, Cent. Dig. § 243; Dec. Dig. § 126.*]

2. Witnesses (§ 366*)—Testimony of Accomplice—Impeachment—Competency.

In a prosecution for murder, evidence offered by defendant that, when the state's attorney sent one of its witnesses to testify before the grand jury, he told such witness that he would never ask a jury to convict on his testimony, was admissible to affect such witness' credibility; the entire testimony for the state being that of accomplices.

[Ed. Note.—For other cases, see Witnesses, Cent. Dig. § 1183; Dec. Dig. § 366.*]

3. Criminal Law (§ 511*)—Testimony of Accomplices—Corroboration.

The testimony of one accomplice cannot be corroborated by the testimony of another accomplice, though the jury may convict on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice.

[Ed. Note.—For other cases, see Criminal Law, Cent. Dig. § 1137; Dec. Dig. § 511.*]

4. Criminal Law (§ 510*)—Evidence—Testimony of Accomplices—Effect.

The jury may convict on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.

[Ed. Note.—For other cases, see Criminal Law, Cent. Dig. §§ 1124-1126; Dec. Dig. § 510.*]

Error to Circuit Court, Buckingham County.

Richard Perkins and Ed. Jones were convicted of murder, and bring error. Reversed and remanded.

A. S. Hall, for plaintiff in error Perkins. A. S. Hall and A. E. Strode, for plaintiff in error.

Jones. Samuel W. Williams, Atty. Gen., for the Commonwealth.

WHITTLE, J. These are companion cases. They arose out of the same transaction, are dependent substantially upon the same

[69 S.E. 954]

evidence, the assignments of error are common to both, and therefore they may be disposed of in one opinion.

On the night of April 17, 1909, a log cabin situated in Buckingham county, owned and occupied by two elderly bachelor brothers, T. C. Stuart and W. J. Stuart, was entirely destroyed by fire. The fire was discovered early the next morning, and when the neighbors appeared on the scene they found in the still burning building the partially consumed trunks of two human bodies, which were identified with reasonable certainty as the remains of the Stuart brothers. The smaller of the two skeletons, answering in size to that of W. J. Stuart, was lying near the fire place; and a physician who examined fragments of the skull discovered a number of leaden pellets embedded in the inside of the parietal bone taken from the left side of the skull, which he identified as shot. The witness also testified that the passage of those shot from one side of a human skull to the other would cause instant death. The remains of the other brother were found in a corner of the room, with the head missing and the neck smooth, as though the head had been severed from the body.

The Stuarts were reputed to have had money, and it was generally believed throughout the county that they were murdered and robbed, and their home burned to conceal the crime. The community was naturally deeply aroused by the suspicion that a dreadful crime had been perpetrated in their midst, and active efforts were put forth to ascertain the guilty agents. To that end the Governor of the state and the board of supervisors of the county offered rewards, aggregating $600, for each person convicted of the offense. Nevertheless, it was not until some two months had elapsed after the fire that Willie Jackson, a negro boy about 17 years of age, implicated W. Dallas Wright, a white man, and the plaintiffs in error, Jones and Perkins, negroes, as the perpetrators of the triple crime of murder, robbery, and arson. Jackson professed to have been an eyewitness to the tragedy, and upon his testimony a grand jury of the circuit court of Buckingham county, at the July term, 1909, returned a joint indictment against the three parties, charging them with the murder of the Stuarts: whereupon each of them elected to be tried separately.

Wright and Jones were twice put on trial. The first trials were had before his honor, Judge B. T. Gordon, who was at that time judge of the circuit court. The jury failed to agree in Wright's case. Jones was found guilty of murder in the first degree, but the court set aside the verdict as contrary to the law and evidence. In an able opinion, Judge...

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19 cases
  • State v. Vance, 14119
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • January 22, 1980
    ...v. Pressel, 194 Pa.Super. 367, 168 A.2d 779 (1961); Sherrill v. State, 204 Tenn. 427, 321 S.W.2d 811 (1959); Jones v. Commonwealth, 111 Va. 862, 69 S.E. 953 (1911), an accomplice's wife usually may do so if she herself is not an accomplice, See e.g., Nix v. Commonwealth, 299 S.W.2d 609 (Ky.......
  • Holmes v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0250-22-3
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • November 22, 2022 the duty of the court to warn the jury against the danger of convicting upon their uncorroborated testimony." Jones v. Commonwealth , 111 Va. 862, 868, 69 S.E. 953 (1911). Moreover, "[I]f two or more accomplices are produced as witnesses, they are not deemed to corroborate each other .........
  • Arnold v. United States, 1540.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • January 13, 1938
    ...Corroboration in law of an accomplice cannot come from the testimony of another who likewise is an accomplice." In Jones v. Commonwealth, 111 Va. 862, 69 S.E. 953: The general rule is that the testimony of one accomplice cannot be accepted as sufficient corroboration of the testimony of ano......
  • Wright v. Com.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • June 21, 1954
    ...testimony is entitled to, whether corroborated or uncorroborated. Hunt v. Commonwealth, 126 Va. 815, 101 S.E. 896; Jones v. Commonwealth, 111 Va. 862, 69 S.E. 953. We have often held that if the jury be satisfied of the guilt of an accused, it may convict him upon the uncorroborated testimo......
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