People v. Barron

Decision Date27 December 1968
Docket NumberNo. 14,14
Citation163 N.W.2d 219,381 Mich. 421
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Preston BARRON, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

William L. Cahalan, Prosecuting Atty., Samuel J. Torina, Chief Appellate Lawyer, Luvenia D. Dockett, Asst. Pros. Atty., Detroit, for plaintiff-appellee.

Edward F. Bell, Richard J. Coon, Detroit, for defendant-appellant.

Before the Entire Bench.

O'HARA, Justice.

The precise question presented by this appeal cannot arise again absent legislative action. 1 C.L.1948, § 750.110 (Stat.Ann.1962 Rev. § 28.305), prior to amendment, imposed different penalties for breaking and entering with intent to commit any felony dependent upon whether such breaking and entering was committed in the daytime or nighttime. By P.A.1964, No. 133, effective August 28 of that year, the distinction was eliminated.

The issue before us is the quantum of proof necessary to the establishment of the Corpus delicti of the crime of breaking and entering with felonious intent in the nighttime. Defendant contends this is crucial because the testimony which implicated him was supplied by an admitted participant in the offense. He argues that if the proof of the Corpus delicti of the crime was not established independent of the testimony of the participant, it was not proper to receive that testimony. He contends that if the testimony other than that of the participant fell short of its purpose, the testimony implicating him was erroneously received and the case against him must fall. Certainly this is the settled rule as to the extrajudicial confession or admission of an accused himself. This is established in many cases in our State. We choose to cite People v. Kirby, 223 Mich. 440, 194 N.W. 142. We choose it, though a split decision as to the degree of proof necessary before the admission of the confession, the divided Court was unanimous as to the proposition above stated.

Mr. Justice Wiest addressed himself to the principle:

'This court has ever been firm in requiring proof of the commission of a crime outside of an extrajudicial confession.' Kirby, supra, p. 449, 194 N.W. p. 145.

Further in the opinion he succinctly observed:

'There can be no criminal without a crime in fact committed.' Kirby, supra, p. 452, 194 N.W. p. 146.

For those Justices holding the degree of proof in that case sufficient to establish the Corpus delicti dehors the confession the same basic rule is approved:

'The rule stated by Mr. Justice MOORE that the Corpus delicti may not be proven by an extrajudicial confession alone seems to be well established in this State, since People v. Lane, 49 Mich. 340, 13 N.W. 622, was decided. It has been consistently followed in the cases cited and quoted from by him.' Kirby, supra, p. 453, 194 N.W. p. 146.

Since then it is the settled rule that the Corpus delicti cannot be established solely by the extrajudicial admission or confession of the accused, it would seem a logical contradiction to hold it could be established solely by the extrajudicial admission or confession of another who has admitted his participation in the events said to constitute the offense charged. We here so hold. This is not to say, and we would not be understood to mean that once the Corpus delicti has been established--that is that the elements of the offense charged have been established and hence that someone committed that offense--extrajudicial admissions or confession of another participant are not admissible. They are. We have held that the weight and credibility of such admissions or confession are solely for the jury. Indeed, we have held that when properly admitted after the Corpus delicti has been established, a jury may convict upon the uncorroborated evidence of a professed accomplice.

'We think the credibility of an accomplice, like that of any other witness, is exclusively a question for the jury; and it is well settled that a jury may convict on such testimony alone without confirmation.' People v. Jenness, 5 Mich. 305, p. 330.

Perforce then we turn to the testimony and other evidence exclusive of that of the professed participant to determine whether such testimony and evidence established the Corpus delicti of the crime of breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony. What are those elements? They are three. First, someone broke and entered the premises. Second, whoever did it entertained at the time a felonious intent. Third, the breaking and entering occurred in the nighttime.

Herewith the relevant facts. The building involved was a receiving station for a dry cleaning establishment. Customers could drop off garments there and pick them up after cleaning. Its manager testified that a police officer phoned him around midnight on November 30, 1962 and informed him that the premises appeared to have been forcibly entered. He responded to the call. The officers were still there when he arrived. The whole back door was broken off and 'smashed out completely.' He entered and found clothes strewn around the floor; some were lying out in the alley. The company operating the establishment paid out $1,800.00 for clothes left there and for which...

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29 cases
  • People v. Allen, Docket No. 10157
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
    • 27 d1 Março d1 1972
    ...responsible for the commission of those acts. The most recent pronouncement by the Michigan Supreme Court was in People v. Barron, 381 Mich. 421, 425, 163 N.W.2d 219 (1968). There the Court declared that in order to establish the Corpus delicti of breaking and entering in the nighttime the ......
  • People v. Stewart
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 4 d5 Junho d5 1976
    ...are not admissible without independent proof, such proof may not consist of evidence having the same infirmity. In People v. Barron, 381 Mich. 421, 163 N.W.2d 219 (1968), this Court held that proof of the corpus delicti could not consist of hearsay. Similarly here, the hearsay statement att......
  • People v. Lemmon
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 24 d2 Março d2 1998
    ...149 Mich.App. 189, 195, 385 N.W.2d 654 (1986), citing M.C.L. § 750.520h; M.S.A. § 28.788(8); a professed accomplice, People v. Barron, 381 Mich. 421, 163 N.W.2d 219 (1968) (a jury may convict on uncorroborated evidence of a professed accomplice); or in federal court on the uncorroborated te......
  • State v. Vance
    • United States
    • West Virginia Supreme Court
    • 22 d2 Janeiro d2 1980
    ...51 (1975); State v. Sawyer, 314 A.2d 830 (Me.1974); Commonwealth v. DeBrosky, 363 Mass. 718, 297 N.E.2d 496 (1973); People v. Barron, 381 Mich. 421, 163 N.W.2d 219 (1968); State v. Rumney, 109 N.H. 544, 258 A.2d 349 (1969), Cert. denied, 397 U.S. 1051, 90 S.Ct. 1389, 25 L.Ed.2d 666 (1970); ......
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