Nims v. State

Decision Date16 December 1915
Citation70 So. 565,70 Fla. 530
PartiesNIMS v. STATE.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Error to Circuit Court, Leon County; E. C. Love, Judge.

Louis Nims, alias Chip Nims, was convicted of murder in the first degree, and brings error. Reversed, and new trial ordered.

Shackleford and Cockrell, JJ., dissenting.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

In a conviction for murder in the first degree, where the evidence as to the identity of the accused as being the guilty party is not satisfactory, a new trial should be granted. Platt v. State, 65 Fla. 253, 61 So. 502.

COUNSEL John W. Henderson and Fred T. Myers, both of Tallahassee, for plaintiff in error.

T. F West, Atty. Gen., and C. O. Andrews, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

OPINION

TAYLOR C.J.

The plaintiff in error, Louis Nims, hereafter referred to as the defendant, a colored man, was indicted for, and tried and convicted of, the crime of murder in the first degree, the jury in their verdict recommending mercy, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life in the state penitentiary, in the circuit court of Leon county, and by writ of error brings such judgment here for review.

But one assignment of error is presented here, and that is that the court below erred in denying the defendant's motion for new trial upon the ground therein that the verdict was contrary to the law and the evidence. Upon a careful consideration of the evidence brought here in the transcript we are impelled to the conclusion that this assignment is well taken, which necessitates the reversal of the judgment of conviction, and the grant of a new trial. A detailed discussion of the evidence is unnecessary, and, in view of the grant of a new trial, may be improper. We shall therefore discuss only such salient features of the case as presented by the facts that have impelled us to the conclusion at which we have arrived. The deceased, Willie Hinton, also a colored man, was shot in the back in the city of Tallahassee, on the night of February 23, 1915, with a single pistol ball that penetrated his right lung and liver, lodging just under the skin on his right side, from which wound he died two or three days afterwards.

For a conviction the state relied in large measure upon what purports to be the ante mortem statement of the deceased. This statement is in some respects remarkable. As detailed by the witnesses testifying to it, the deceased was walking first along St. Augustine street, and then down Gay street, passing near the defendant's house; that as he passed the defendant's house he saw the hack or carriage of the defendant, with two horses hitched to it, standing near the defendant's house, with the defendant in the hack, and that the defendant got out of the hack and followed along after him down Gay street until he reached the point where he was shot; that he knew it was the defendant who was following him in the street, before he shot him; that the defendant came up behind him and shot him in the back; that immediately upon being shot he (the deceased) first pulled out of his pocket a hand electric flash light, wheeled around and flashed this light in the face of the defendant, then recognizing him to be the defendant; that he (the deceased) then drew his own pistol and chased the defendant, who ran off, until he got so weak from his wound he could go no farther, firing three times at the defendant as he ran off. This statement was accompanied, to one of the witnesses who detailed it, with expressions from the deceased that evinced considerable spite and vindictiveness on his part towards the defendant. This witness, who was a deputy sheriff, stated that at the time the statement was made to him the deceased insisted that the defendant should not be turned loose or out of jail, as he was sure that he was the party who shot him, and insisted upon the defendant being kept in jail. These utterances of the deceased, evincing as they did a spirit of vindictiveness on his part towards the defendant, were well calculated to strip such statement of much of its force as credible evidence. The credibility of this statement by the deceased is further seriously shaken by the testimony of one Mrs. Hartsfield, an entirely disinterested and unbiased witness, who testified that the house in which she lived was just across a street about 60 feet in width almost directly in front of the defendant's house on St. Augustine street; that she was standing in her front door, looking for her little son, whom she had sent out on an errand; that the night was a slightly clouded moonlight night, and that she could see plainly the defendant's house, and any object near or around it, such as a hack and horses; that she stood in her front door for some time prior to the firing of the shots, and until the shots were fired, when she, on hearing them, retired into her house; and that there was no hack or carriage anywhere about the defendant's house at the time of or before said shots were fired, nor for some time afterwards. And again this ante mortem statement of the deceased is strongly shaken, if not overwhelmingly impeached, by the testimony of 8 or 10 apparently disinterested witnesses, all of whom testified in substance that the defendant with his horses and hack was standing in the street in front of the Daffin Theater, about a mile from where the...

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29 cases
  • Smith v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • August 12, 1970
    ...Fla. 730, 19 So.2d 106; Garner v. State, 1938, 134 Fla. 252, 183 So. 739; Fuller v. State, 1926, 92 Fla. 873, 110 So. 528; Nims v. State, 1915, 70 Fla. 530, 70 So. 565; Johnson v. State, Fla.App.1960, 118 So.2d 806, second appeal Fla.App.1962, 138 So.2d 386.12 Sapir v. United States, 348 U.......
  • Lowe v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • July 25, 1944
    ...v. State, 140 Fla. 163, 191 So. 294; Reed v. State, 137 Fla. 768, 189 So. 21; Skiff v. State, 107 Fla. 90, 144 So. 323; Nims v. State, 70 Fla. 530, 70 So. 565; Fuller v. State, 92 Fla. 873, 110 So. 528; v. State, 89 Fla. 280, 103 So. 618; Platt v. State, 65 Fla. 253, 61 So. 502; Townsend v.......
  • Cordell v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • January 8, 1946
    ...v. State, 140 Fla. 163, 191 So. 294; Reed v. State, 137 Fla. 768, 189 So. 21; Skiff v. State, 107 Fla. 90, 144 So. 323; Nims v. State, 70 Fla. 530, 70 So. 565; v. State, 92 Fla. 873, 110 So. 528; Ming v. State, 89 Fla. 280, 103 So. 618; Platt v. State, 65 Fla. 253, 61 So. 502; Townsend v. S......
  • Tibbs v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • July 28, 1976
    ...of the accused as being the guilty party is not satisfactory to the appellate court, a new trial will be granted. Nims v. State, (70 Fla. 530, 70 So. 565) supra. In this case the sole testimony identifying the defendant McNeil as a participant in the robbery was given by the witness Rahming......
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