People v. Rupert

Decision Date17 February 1925
Docket NumberNo. 16203.,16203.
Citation146 N.E. 456,316 Ill. 38
PartiesPEOPLE vs. RUPERT et al.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court


Error to Circuit Court, St. Clair County; William F. Borders, Judge.

Arnold Rupert and another were convicted of murder, and they bring error.

Reversed and remanded.

John C. Roberts, of East St. Louis, for plaintiffs in error.

Edward J. Brundage, Atty. Gen., H. C. Lindauer, of Belleville, State's Atty., George C. Dixon, of Dixon, and W. R. Weber, of Belleville, for the People.


Arnold Rupert and Jimmie Dean, negroes, of the ages of 21 and 20 years, respectively, were convicted in the circuit court of St. Clair county of the murder of William Owens, a white man. Rupert was sentenced to death and Dean to imprisonment for life. They have sued out a writ of error to reverse the judgment.

On the night of September 22, 1923, in East St. Louis, William Owens stopped at the soft drink parlor of William Singleton, which is called in the testimony a saloon, and got a lunch, in paying for which he exhibited a roll of bills amounting to $20 or $30. He left Singleton's shortly before midnight for his home, which was two blocks away, and in a few moments came to the back door of his brother's house, where he was living, and called to his brother that he was shot. His brother had heard the shot fired, and jumped up and let him in. Owens told him that two colored men had attacked him and tried to hold him up; that one held him and the little short fellow shot him. He was shot in the abdomen. He was taken to the hospital and died the next day from the wound. The plaintiffs in error were in the saloon when Owens was there. Dean left after Owens did. Rupert claims not to have left the saloon, but to have been there when the shot was fired.

The day after Owens' death the plaintiffs in error were arrested and taken to the police station, where they made separate statements in the presence of the officers and others which were taken down by an officer and signed by the plaintiffs in error, respectively. At the January term of the circuit court they were indicted, separate counsel was appointed by the court for each, they were tried, found guilty, and Rupert was sentenced to be hanged on April 18, and Dean was sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Before the trial Rupert made a motion for a separate trial on the ground that all the evidence which would be produced by the people would not be applicable to him and Jimmie Dean; that Dean had made a statement to the police, and so far as the statement implicated Rupert, he would be unable to have a fair trial if jointly tried with Dean; that Rupert had also made a statement in regard to the crime to the police of ficers incriminating Dean. Rupert further stated to the court in his motion that if these statements were introduced in evidence neither of the defendants would be able to procure a fair trial. The bill of exceptions does not show that the statements were before the court on the hearing of the motion, or that any other statement of their contents was made other than was contained in the affidavit. The motion was denied, and Rupert excepted.

The statements of the plaintiffs in error were offered in evidence, and each was objected to by the defendant not making it, but the objections were overruled and both statements were received in evidence. Dean's statement was, in substance, that Rupert asked him to walk down the street. They left the saloon about 12 o'clock or a little before, and walked west on Winstanley avenue, and to the question where he was going, Rupert replied to come on—there was something down there. Dean saw a man walking west on Winstanley avenue about 20 feet ahead of them, and then he knew that Rupert meant to stick this man up. They walked west. Dean stopped, but Rupert went toward the man, and the next thing Dean heard a shot. Rupert and the man were about 20 feet from Dean. Rupert fell to the ground, then got up and ran, and Dean ran east to an alley, then by a roundabout way back to Singleton's saloon, at Third street and Winstanley avenue, went inside and sat around for a while, and then went home and to bed. He did not see Rupert until the next day. He met Rupert on Third street, near Exchange avenue, and asked him who did the shooting. Rupert said he did. He asked Rupert if he hit the man. Rupert said he did not know; that the man had a pistol in his hand, and that he had to shoot to get away. On Monday, September 24, Dean met Rupert at Singleton's saloon, reading a paper. Rupert called him and showed him the statement in the paper about the shooting. Dean asked Rupert what he was going to do, and Rupert replied that he was not going to do anything, as they did not know who shot Owens. He further stated that the revolver the police had was the same one that he saw Rupert have. It was a 38-caliber Smith & Wesson nicket-plated revolver, No. 81,826.

Rupert's statement was, that at Singleton's saloon Dean came to him and asked him to loan Dean his revolver, and to the question, ‘What for?’ answered that a negro named Charles Yates was trying to kill him. Rupert loaned him the revolver. Dean left the saloon, and Rupert did not see him any more that night. About an hour after Dean left a shot was heard outside, and everybody ran to the door, but the proprietor told them all not to go down there, and every body went back into the saloon. Rupert then went with some others in a machine to Brooklyn and stayed there all night, getting back about 5:30 the next morning, when he went home and went to bed. He got up about 9 o'clock and went to Singleton's saloon, where he met Dean and asked him for the revolver, and also asked him if he did that shooting last night, and he said ‘no.’ Then Dean said he was going to tell Rupert something, but did not want him to tell anyone about it. Rupert asked Dean again if he did the shooting, and he said ‘yes'; that he was trying to make something last night, and the guy made a gun play, and Dean had to get him. Rupert asked him if he killed the man, and he said he did not know, but he did know he hit him. Dean told him that he shot at the man one time and the man ran, and Dean turned and ran away. He gave Rupert the revolver. Rupert talked with Dean again about the shooting after he had read a paper and saw that the man was in the hospital. He asked Dean if he was going to leave town. Dean said ‘no’; that he was going to stay around and see how the man was getting along. The next day, Monday, they read in the paper that the man had died. Dean then told him that all he had to do was to keep his mouth closed, and to tell Singleton to do away with the revolver. The police had the revolver. He (Rupert) took it from Singleton's saloon. It was a 38-caliber Smith & Wesson nickel-plated revolver, No. 81,826. It was the property of Singleton. Singleton did not know that Rupert had taken the gun, but later he told Singleton about it.

After the foregoing statements were made, Rupert and Dean were placed in jail, and there they made two other statements, each of them being, in substance, the same as the two already set out in this opinion. All four of the statements were introduced in evidence over the objection of each of the defendants.

William Singleton,...

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