People v. Stahl

Decision Date30 April 1926
Docket NumberNo. 126.,126.
Citation234 Mich. 569,208 N.W. 685
CourtMichigan Supreme Court


Error to Circuit Court, Macomb County; Neil E. Reid, Judge.

Samuel Stahl was convicted of manslaughter, and he brings error. Reversed, and new trial granted.

Before the entire bench.Harry C. Milligan, of Detroit (Lungerhausen, Weeks, Lungerhausen & Neale, of Mt. Clemens), for appellant.

Andrew B. Dougherty, Atty. Gen., and Christian F. Matthews, Pros. Atty., of Mt. Clemens (Warren S. Stone, of Mt. Clemens, of counsel), for the People.


The information contained a count for murder. A second count charged manslaughter, setting forth in detail that the woman had been killed by efforts of defendant and another to procure her miscarriage; the count being based on section 15225, Comp. Laws of 1915:

Sec. 34. Every person who shall willfully administer to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, substance or thing whatever, or shall employ any instrument or other means whatever, with intent thereby to procure the miscarriage of any such woman, unless the same shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such woman, or shall have been advised by two physicians to be necessary for that purpose, shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not more than one year, or by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.’

The offense so defined by the statute is a misdemeanor.

We quote section 15224, Comp. Laws of 1915:

Sec. 33. Every person who shall administer to any woman pregnant with a quick child, any medicine, drug or substance whatever, or shall use or employ and instrument or other means, with intent thereby to destroy such child, unless the same shall have been necessary to preserve the life of such mother, or shall have been advised by two physicians to be necessary for such purpose, shall, in case the death of such child or of such mother be thereby produced, be deemed guilty of manslaughter.’

The information was not filed under the section last quoted, as there is no averment that the woman was pregnant with quick child. The offense defined in section 15224 is made by the statute manslaughter, not murder. People v. Olmstead, 30 Mich. 431;People v. Sessions, 58 Mich. 594, 26 N. W. 291;People v. Aikin, 66 Mich. 460, 33 N. W. 821,11 Am. St. Rep. 512.

The Legislature did not intend to make the misconduct with intent to procure miscarriage, set forth in section 15225, where death of the woman ensues, a more serious offense than like misconduct with intent to destroy a quick child resulting in death, as set forth in section 15224. If death of the woman results from the act or acts with intent to procure miscarriage as defined in section 15225, the offense is manslaughter. People v. Abbott, 116 Mich. 263, 74 N. W. 529.

The trial judge in his charge defined murder in first and in second degree, instructed the jury to determine if defendant was guilty of murder so defined, and said further:

‘If you find this respondent guilty of murder, you must determine and state in your verdict which degree of murder you find him guilty of.

‘Accordingly, as you find the facts to be, you may acquit respondent of the graver charge of murder, but still find him guilty of a lesser charge.

‘If you do not find this respondent, Stahl, guilty of murder of either the first or second degree, you will proceed to determine whether he is guilty of the remaining charge of manslaughter. * * *’

To support such instruction the prosecution insisted in the circuit court, and here argues, that there was some evidence that the operation on the woman was done with intent to kill her, and stress is laid on testimony that the autopsy disclosed that the uterus had been punctured, evidently by a curet. But there is no evidence to support the charge of murder. Dr. Clark, a witness for the people, stated the case in fact:

‘The pregnant uterus is very taut, similar, perhaps, to a balloon blown up, and it would depend on the technique of the person as to whether it is easy to avoid the puncturing of the uterine wall. * * * From my examination the cause of her death was uterine hemorrhage and puerperal sepsis as a result of the evacuation of the contents of the uterus, ordinarily known as abortion.’

The technique of the operation does not of itself determine the character of the crime. The theory of murder ought to have been omitted. But it is urged that defendant was not...

To continue reading

Request your trial
17 cases
  • People v. Ramsey
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 6 d5 Dezembro d5 1985 reach a verdict, the defendant has not been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by all members of the jury. In People v. Stahl, 234 Mich. 569, 208 N.W. 685 (1926), People v. Gessinger, 238 Mich. 625, 214 N.W. 184 (1927), and People v. Vail, 393 Mich. 460, 227 N.W.2d 535 (1975), we rec......
  • People v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 1 d3 Outubro d3 1986
    ...v. Gill, 43 Mich.App. 598, 204 N.W.2d 699 (1972); see also People v. Hansen, 368 Mich. 344, 118 N.W.2d 422 (1962); People v. Stahl, 234 Mich. 569, 208 N.W. 685 (1926). We, therefore, conclude that the examining magistrate abused his discretion in binding the defendant over to the circuit co......
  • State v. Christener
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • 14 d3 Julho d3 1976
    ...the instruction on first degree murder in the absence of proof of the necessary elements. (247 P.2d at 672) Cf. People v. Stahl, 234 Mich. 569, 208 N.W. 685 (Sup.Ct.1926); People v. Gill, 43 Mich.App. 598, 204 N.W.2d 699 (Ct.App.1972). While courts in this jurisdiction have not had the oppo......
  • People v. Graves
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • 30 d4 Julho d4 1998
    ...2 Defendant argues that we should not overrule Vail because it has been a part of this state's jurisprudence since People v. Stahl, 234 Mich. 569, 572, 208 N.W. 685 (1926). While the Vail rule has been longstanding, it has not always been the rule in Michigan, and the rule has not been unif......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT