People v. Johnson

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtFINCH
Citation35 N.E. 604,140 N.Y. 350
Decision Date12 December 1893
PartiesPEOPLE v. JOHNSON.

140 N.Y. 350
35 N.E. 604

PEOPLE
v.
JOHNSON.

Court of Appeals of New York.

Dec. 12, 1893.


Appeal from common pleas of New York city and county, general term.

Mathew Johnson was convicted of murder in the first degree, and appeals. Affirmed.


Abraham Levy, ([140 N.Y. 350]T. McCants Stewart, of counsel,) for appellant.

De Lancey Nicoll, Dist. Atty., (Henry B. B. Stapler, Asst. Dist. Atty., of counsel,) for the State.


[140 N.Y. 351]FINCH, J.

The death, and the violence which caused it, alleged in the indictment, were proved in this case by direct evidence, as the law now requires, and were put beyond controversy by the finding of the dead body with the marks of murder upon it. But the guilt of the prisoner as the perpetrator of the crime was established, as it may be, by evidence wholly circumstantial in its character. It is assailed on this appeal as being equivocal and inconclusive, consistent with a possibility of innocence, and not strong enough to justify the verdict founded upon it. We have read it and reflected upon it with the care and deliberation due to the extreme gravity of the inquiry, but without finding any reason to doubt or distrust the conclusion reached by the jury. A sufficient and adequate motive for the crime, consisting of revenge for a supposed injury, and supplemented by a desire to obtain the money known to have been paid to the deceased, and which was stolen from his person; a convenient and presumably safe opportunity, arising from the prisoner's familiarity with the premises, his knowledge of a place in which to hide until all the occupants of the building had departed after their usual [140 N.Y. 352]habit, and leaving the engineer alone and unprotected while closing the premises and preparing for his own departure; the presence of the tools and instruments sufficient to effect the killing, the existence and locality of which were well known to the prisoner, and which were found near by with blood and hair upon them; the track of the murderer from the basement to the washing closet on the fourth floor, shown by the bloody finger marks on the doors passed in the ascent, and the stains upon the towel used in an effort to efface the marks which the struggle had left upon him; the theft of the black trousers left on the same floor, and which on the next day were found in the possession of the prisoner, who sought to dispose of them to others; his display, immediately after the killing, of an amount of money, and in denominations closely corresponding to that which was taken from the pockets of the deceased, coupled with the fact that before the killing the prisoner was penniless, unable to pay his rent, borrowing small sums where he could, out of work and earning nothing, and pawning his clothing to relieve his want; his manifest falsehood as to the source from which he obtained the money; his effort to frame and prove a false defense of absence in New Jersey on the day of the homicide; the blood stains on the...

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13 practice notes
  • State v. Nolan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 5 Diciembre 1917
    ...72 Neb. 228, 100 N.W. 316; Clements v. State, 80 Neb. 313, 114 N.W. 271; Lambert v. State, 91 Neb. 520. 136 N.W. 720; People v. Johnson, 140 N.Y. 350, 35 N.E. 604; Siberry v. State, 133 Ind. 677, 33 N.E. 681; 12 Cyc. 627; 3 Brickwood's Sackett on Instruction, sec. 4445; McAllister v. State,......
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 10 Enero 1910
    ...ordinary cases and cannot be accepted with safety. The instruction complained of has been condemned in several cases. (People v. Johnson, 140 N.Y. 350; Siberry v. State, 133 Ind. 677; Cross v. State, 132 Ind. 65.) The instruction in question omits the element contained in the instruction in......
  • People v. Leyra
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 27 Abril 1956
    ...pointed to the defendant's [1 N.Y.2d 209] guilt. See, e. g., People v. Conroy, 97 N.Y. 62, 80-81 (false statements); People v. Johnson, 140 N.Y. 350, 35 N.E. 604 (false alibi); People v. Driscoll, 107 N.Y. 414, 422, 14 N.E. 305, 309 (false alibi and destruction of clothing); Greenfield v. P......
  • State v. James, No. 35999.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 11 Noviembre 1924
    ...of their oaths. It is erroneous. Robinson v. State, 18 Wyo. 216, 106 P. 24;Adams v. State, 135 Ind. 571, 34 N. E. 956;People v. Johnson, 140 N. Y. 350, 35 N. E. 604;Siberry v. State, 133 Ind. 677, 33 N. E. 681;Nelson v. State, 5 Okl. Cr. 368, 114 P. 1124. [4] V. Complaint is made of the ref......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • State v. Nolan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 5 Diciembre 1917
    ...72 Neb. 228, 100 N.W. 316; Clements v. State, 80 Neb. 313, 114 N.W. 271; Lambert v. State, 91 Neb. 520. 136 N.W. 720; People v. Johnson, 140 N.Y. 350, 35 N.E. 604; Siberry v. State, 133 Ind. 677, 33 N.E. 681; 12 Cyc. 627; 3 Brickwood's Sackett on Instruction, sec. 4445; McAllister v. State,......
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 10 Enero 1910
    ...ordinary cases and cannot be accepted with safety. The instruction complained of has been condemned in several cases. (People v. Johnson, 140 N.Y. 350; Siberry v. State, 133 Ind. 677; Cross v. State, 132 Ind. 65.) The instruction in question omits the element contained in the instruction in......
  • People v. Leyra
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 27 Abril 1956
    ...pointed to the defendant's [1 N.Y.2d 209] guilt. See, e. g., People v. Conroy, 97 N.Y. 62, 80-81 (false statements); People v. Johnson, 140 N.Y. 350, 35 N.E. 604 (false alibi); People v. Driscoll, 107 N.Y. 414, 422, 14 N.E. 305, 309 (false alibi and destruction of clothing); Greenfield v. P......
  • State v. James, No. 35999.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 11 Noviembre 1924
    ...of their oaths. It is erroneous. Robinson v. State, 18 Wyo. 216, 106 P. 24;Adams v. State, 135 Ind. 571, 34 N. E. 956;People v. Johnson, 140 N. Y. 350, 35 N. E. 604;Siberry v. State, 133 Ind. 677, 33 N. E. 681;Nelson v. State, 5 Okl. Cr. 368, 114 P. 1124. [4] V. Complaint is made of the ref......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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