Lawrence v. Commonwealth

Citation26 S.E.2d 54, 181 Va. 582
Case DateJune 14, 1943
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia

26 S.E.2d 54
181 Va. 582

LAWRENCE.
v.
COMMONWEALTH.
(two cases).

Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.

June 14, 1943.


[26 S.E.2d 55]

Error to Circuit Court, Sussex County; Robert W. Arnold, Judge.

Johnny Lawrence was convicted of an offense, and he brings error.

Affirmed.

Before CAMPBELL, C. J., and HOLT, HUDGINS, GREGORY, BROWNING, EGGLESTON, and SPRATLEY, JJ.

W. L. Devany, Jr., of Norfolk, for plaintiff in error.

Abram P. Staples, Atty. Gen., and M. Ray Doubles, Asst. Atty. Gen., for Commonwealth.

HOLT, Justice.

Johnny Lawrence is charged with having killed Alvin Montgomery. He was indicted for murder. His case was by consent submitted to the court and was heard without the intervention of a jury. Evidence was taken and by it a judgment of guilty entered. His punishment was fixed at six months' confinement in the county jail.

Montgomery's death grew out of a disastrous automobile accident which occurred on Highway 460 between Waverly and Wakefield at 6:45 p. m. on April 26, 1942.

Route 460 is a four-lane highway with two outside lanes constructed of concrete and the inside lanes of treated gravel. At the point of collision the road is straight and level. The day was clear and the roadway dry. Lawrence, in a Buick automobile, was traveling east. With him rode his wife, his sister and two friends. Two beach wagons were traveling west about 60 feet apart. The first was driven by Ralph Yonkers, and with him rode Alvin Montgomery and his wife. Montgomery and Yonkers were both killed. All the passengers in the Buick car were killed.

George Barnicle rode in the second beach wagon, following, as we have seen, that driven by Ralph Yonkers and 60 feet behind it. He saw the two cars approaching, the first being a station wagon, followed by the Buick. The Buick attempted to pass the station wagon and, as it did so, shot across the road from left to right and struck the left front headlight of the beach wagon driven by Yonkers. The point of impact was on the extreme left side of the passing lane for westbound traffic. R. E. Duvall, resident engineer of Suffolk county, made an examination of this ground on April 28. He saw a skid mark, apparently made by the Buick automobile, which, measured on a straight line parallel to the highway, was 80 feet from the point of beginning to the place of accident. It began in the passing lane for eastbound traffic, crossed over the center line of the highway at an angle of about thirty degrees, and ran for 54 feet diagonally across the gravel to the point of impact.

Objection is made to the evidence of Duvall. He could not, of his own knowledge, have known that this skid mark was made by the Buick automobile, but it must have been made by it; certainly it could not have been made by any other car.

Objection is made to the evidence of Barnicle. He said that the Buick car was traveling at about 70 miles an hour. Of course this is guesswork, but it went to the jury for what it was worth.

John Sullivan said that about 500 yards down the road from the point of accident the Buick car passed him. He was going at a speed of 40 miles an hour, and this Buick, when passing, was going 15 miles an hour faster.

There is the usual conflict in evidence as to the speed of these cars, but certainly the Buick car was going at a high rate of speed, else it would not have skidded 80 feet across the gravel-treated road.

W. B. Moncure, a State police officer, saw Lawrence on April 27, who told him that there was a blowout when he attempted to pass the station wagon, but that Lawrence was then in considerable pain

[26 S.E.2d 56]

and probably did not realize what he was saying. Later his statement was that he attempted to pass the preceding station wagon at the rate of 35 miles an hour, and as he came up with it, the station wagon forced him out of the second line of traffic into the third, giving him no time to avoid the collision. Lawrence, in his evidence, says that he was two-thirds of the way past the station wagon when his wife screamed. He turned his head to see what was the matter and saw the station wagon was forcing him out of the second lane of traffic into the third. He looked up and saw the approaching beach wagons, the first of which was within a few feet of him. He did not have time to do anything but grab the steering wheel and hold tightly to it; and on cross-examination he said that he did not see the approaching beach wagons until they were within a few feet of him. From this it appears that he was paying no attention to traffic conditions until his wife screamed. He grabbed the steering wheel and his car shot across the road into the approaching beach wagon, all in a split second.

We cannot know what the wife did or saw. The evidence sustains the judgment.

The defendant filed a plea of autrefois convict, in which he alleged that he had theretofore been convicted on this charge-- "That the said Johnny Lawrence on the 26th day of April, 1942, in the county of Sussex, did feloniously and unlawfully kill and slay one Ralph Yonkers against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Virginia, "--and that Yonkers and Montgomery had been killed in the same accident.

The defendant contends that he is protected by that provision in section 8 of our Constitution which declares that one shall not "be put twice in jeopardy for the same offense." It will be noted that the test here is the identity of the offense.

Courts are in hopeless conflict when it comes to the solution of the problem of the identity of offenses. State v. Fredlund, 200 Minn. 44, 273 N.W. 353, 113 A.L.R. 220. And cases dealing with that subject are almost unnumbered.

Judge Freeman in a note to Roberts v. State, 14 Ga. 8, 58 Am. Dec. 528, said:

...

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21 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Johnson v. Hamilton, No. 14704
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 28, 1980
    ...have been perfectly acceptable under West Virginia law. State v. Daniel, 144 W.Va. 551, 109 S.E.2d 32 (1959); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (1943); cf. State v. Houchins, 102 W.Va. 169, 134 S.E. 740 Our discussion in the Dowdy case concerning proper rules for implement......
  • Ex parte Rathmell, No. 973-83
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • September 17, 1986
    ...71 P.2d 768 (1937); State v. Seidschlaw, 304 N.W.2d 102 (S.D.1981); State v. Irvin, 603 S.W.2d 121 (Tenn.1980); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (1943); State v. Taylor, 185 Wash. 198, 52 P.2d 1252 (1936); State v. Rabe, 96 Wis.2d 48, 291 N.W.2d 809 (1980); Goodman v. Sta......
  • Vigil v. State, No. 4659
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 26, 1977
    ...State v. Fredlund, 1937, 200 Minn. 44, 273 N.W. 353, 113 A.L.R. 215 (two persons killed, two counts); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 1943, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (two persons killed, two counts); Holder v. Fraser, 1949, 215 Ark. 67, 219 S.W.2d 625 (three persons killed, three counts); Murray ......
  • Williams v. U.S., No. 85-1158.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 31, 1989
    ...81 S.Ct. 708, 5 L.Ed.2d 700 (1961) (attempted murder); Gibson v. State, 512 P.2d 1399 (Okla.Crim.App. 1973); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (1943); State v. Robinson, 12 Wash. 491, 41 P. 884 (1895). Some opinions state the rule more broadly than in the particular contex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • State ex rel. Johnson v. Hamilton, No. 14704
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 28, 1980
    ...have been perfectly acceptable under West Virginia law. State v. Daniel, 144 W.Va. 551, 109 S.E.2d 32 (1959); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (1943); cf. State v. Houchins, 102 W.Va. 169, 134 S.E. 740 Our discussion in the Dowdy case concerning proper rules for implement......
  • Ex parte Rathmell, No. 973-83
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • September 17, 1986
    ...71 P.2d 768 (1937); State v. Seidschlaw, 304 N.W.2d 102 (S.D.1981); State v. Irvin, 603 S.W.2d 121 (Tenn.1980); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (1943); State v. Taylor, 185 Wash. 198, 52 P.2d 1252 (1936); State v. Rabe, 96 Wis.2d 48, 291 N.W.2d 809 (1980); Goodman v. Sta......
  • Vigil v. State, No. 4659
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 26, 1977
    ...State v. Fredlund, 1937, 200 Minn. 44, 273 N.W. 353, 113 A.L.R. 215 (two persons killed, two counts); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 1943, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (two persons killed, two counts); Holder v. Fraser, 1949, 215 Ark. 67, 219 S.W.2d 625 (three persons killed, three counts); Murray ......
  • Williams v. U.S., No. 85-1158.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 31, 1989
    ...81 S.Ct. 708, 5 L.Ed.2d 700 (1961) (attempted murder); Gibson v. State, 512 P.2d 1399 (Okla.Crim.App. 1973); Lawrence v. Commonwealth, 181 Va. 582, 26 S.E.2d 54 (1943); State v. Robinson, 12 Wash. 491, 41 P. 884 (1895). Some opinions state the rule more broadly than in the particular contex......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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