People v. Pierson

Citation3 P. 688,2 Idaho 76
Decision Date20 February 1884
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho

CRIMINAL LAW-APPEAL-REVIEWING EVIDENCE.-On an appeal from the judgment only, the court cannot inquire whether the verdict is supported by the evidence; this can be done only upon an appeal from the order denying a new trial.

HOMICIDE-EVIDENCE.-In case of a homicide committed by the defendant where the fatal shot was fired while the deceased was retreating and after all danger from him was over, and while defendant was pursuing him, then the defendant is guilty of murder or manslaughter, as the case may be.

INSTRUCTION-WITNESSES.-An instruction as to the credit that should be given to a witness, and one that the same weight should be given to the testimony of defendant when corroborated, as to that of any other witness, invades the province of the jury and is properly refused.

HOMICIDE-DEFENSE OF WIFE-EVIDENCE OF REPUTATION.-When the defendant seeks to justify a homicide on the ground that the killing was necessary to protect the person of his wife, evidence on the part of the prosecution tending to show the bad character of the woman alleged to be the wife of the defendant, and that she kept a house of prostitution, with a view of showing that the deceased was upon the premises for purposes other than felonious, is proper.

INSTRUCTIONS-MOTIVE.-An instruction that if the jury believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant killed deceased on account of a desire for revenge for some real or imagined injury, then defendant is guilty of murder, is proper.

INEXCUSABLE HOMICIDE-PURSUING DECEASED.-When the deceased was slain while endeavoring to escape from the defendant, and had succeeded in wholly withdrawing in good faith from the vicinity of the defendant and his house, and all danger to the person of defendant, to his habitation, or anyone residing therein was over, then the killing can neither be justified, excused or mitigated by declarations of defendants, made to another person shortly before the homicide, and evidence thereof was properly refused.

(Syllabus by the court.)

APPEAL from District Court, Alturas County. Affirmed.

Judgment affirmed, and cause remanded to the second district court in and for Alturas county, with directions.

L Vineyard, for Appellant.

James H. Hawley and T. D. Cahalan, Prosecuting Attorneys for Alturas and Ada Counties, respectively, for the People.

No briefs on file in this case.

MORGAN C. J. Prickett, J., concurred. BUCK, J., Dissenting.



The defendant, George Pierson, was indicted, tried, and convicted at the October term, A. D. 1882, of the district court for Alturas county, for the murder of John T. Hall, at Vienna, in said county, on the twenty-fifth day of August, 1882. The case is brought to this court by an appeal from the judgment. In the argument of the case considerable time was occupied in the apparent effort to show that the verdict was contrary to the evidence. The court is unable to see any substantial objection to the verdict upon that ground. There is no occasion, however, to consider that branch of the argument. The appeal is taken from the judgment. Subdivision 2, section 465, page 432, of the Revised Laws, provides that the appeal to the supreme court from the district court shall be on questions of law alone. The only method whereby this court can review the evidence for the purpose of determining whether the verdict is sustained thereby, is through an appeal from the order of the court below denying a new trial upon that ground. As no such appeal is taken in the case at bar, we can only review the evidence so far as is necessary to determine the questions of law brought here by the appeal from the judgment.

The bill of exceptions alleges as error the refusal of the court to allow the declarations of the defendant to the deputy sheriff in endeavoring to procure the arrest of deceased for alleged offenses against the wife of defendant, made on the day of the homicide, and immediately preceding the same; and the ruling of the court in refusing to instruct the jury, at the request of the defendant, that if the jury believe, from the evidence, that the deceased approached the defendant's dwelling at the time of the fatal affray with the intent of committing a felony upon the person of the defendant, or upon the woman in the dwelling of the defendant, whom he claims as his wife and who claims the protection of the defendant, and an asylum in his house, and that the defendant did the killing in order to prevent such felony, then the killing was justifiable, and the jury should acquit. Also in giving the following instructions, to wit: "If you find from the evidence that the defendant was justified, under the rules of law given above, in firing the first shot, but that, after such shot had been fired by the defendant, the deceased, Hall, retreated, and all danger from him was over, and that, while deceased was still retreating and all danger from him being over, the defendant pursued him and fired upon him, thereby inflicting the mortal wound, then the defendant is guilty." While the law recognizes the right of the husband to protect the person of his wife from assault or personal injury, even to the taking of the life of the assailant, still, before this plea can be invoked, it is incumbent upon the defendant to establish two precedent facts to the satisfaction of the jury, to wit: 1. That the relation of husband and wife actually existed between the defendant and the person against whom the assault was threatened or made; 2. That an assault was actually being made or attempted against the wife of the defendant at the time the homicide was committed, and that, in the judgment of a reasonable person, the killing of the deceased was necessary, at the time, to protect the wife from death or great bodily harm.

The appellant also set out in his brief certain assignments of error in admitting and rejecting testimony on the trial, which do not appear in the bill of exceptions, and therefore cannot be considered.

The defendant urges error in the court refusing to give two instructions, as follows: "When the defendant is a witness in his own behalf, as in this case, his evidence is entitled to the same credit as that of any disinterested witness, provided his testimony is sustained and corroborated by other credible and unimpeached evidence; and also that the defendant Pierson's testimony was to be weighed like the testimony of other witnesses in the case provided it was corroborated by other unimpeached testimony. In the one case the court is asked to charge the jury as to the credit which they should accord to the witness, and, in the other, as to the weight they should give to certain...

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4 cases
  • State v. Mcmahan
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • January 16, 1937
    ...v. Kuok Wah Choi, 2 Idaho 90, 6 P. 112; People v. McDonald, 2 Idaho 10, 1 P. 345; People v. Mooney, 2 Idaho 17, 2 P. 876; People v. Pierson, 2 Idaho 76, 3 P. 688; v. Woods, 2 Idaho 364, 16 P. 551; People v. Williams, 2 Idaho 366, 16 P. 552; Territory v. Guthrie, 2 Idaho 432, 17 P. 39; Terri......
  • State v. Carter
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • September 10, 1981
    ...of imminent harm, and a reasonable belief that the killing is necessary to protect against such injury. I.C. § 18-4009; People v. Pierson, 2 Idaho 76, 3 P. 688 (1884). Once the victim has retreated and the danger is abated, the privilege of self defense expires. People v. Pierson, supra; se......
  • State v. Fleming
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • January 11, 1910
    ...imminent danger at the time the act is committed. (21 Cyc. 791, and cases cited; People v. Bernard, 2 Idaho 193, 10 P. 30; People v. Pierson, 2 Idaho 76, 3 P. 688; v. Schieler, 4 Idaho 120, 37 P. 272.) Error cannot be claimed in refusing to give an instruction which has been already substan......
  • State v. Quong
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • January 15, 1902
    ...that the evidence does not support the verdict in a criminal case cannot be reviewed on an appeal from the judgment. (People v. Pierson, 2 Idaho 76, 3 P. 688; States v. Camp, 2 Idaho 231, 10 P. 226.) QUARLES, C. J. Sullivan and Stockslager, JJ., concur. OPINION QUARLES, C. J. The appellant ......

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