People v. Stapleton

Decision Date22 December 1921
Docket NumberNo. 14097.,14097.
Citation300 Ill. 471,133 N.E. 224
CourtIllinois Supreme Court


Error to Criminal Court, Cook County; Thomas Taylor, Jr., Judge.

Patrick T. Stapleton was convicted of murder, and he brings error.

Reversed and remanded.

Francis Borrelli, of Chicago (Thomas E. Swanson, of Chicago, of counsel), for plaintiff in error.

Edward J. Brundage, Atty. Gen., Robert E. Crowe, State's Atty., of Chicago, and Edward C. Fitch, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Henry T. Chace, Jr., Edward E. Wilson, and Clyde C. Fisher, all of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.


Patrick T. Stapleton, plaintiff in error, was indicted by the grand jury of Cook county for the murder of John Walsh. Upon a trial in the criminal court there was a verdict finding him guilty and fixing his punishment at confinement for 20 years in the state penitentiary at Joliet, and judgment was entered on the verdict.

After midnight of October 11, 1919, the defendant, with John Walsh and others, was in a saloon at Forty-Fifth street and Wentworth avenue, in Chicago. There was a quarrel there between some of them about change left on the bar in paying for drinks. It was 1 o'clock in the morning of the 12th when the saloon keeper told them that he was going to close the place, and if they wanted to fight he would call the police, and they were all turned out of the saloon. When they got out of the saloon the defendant and Walsh had a fight, which was stopped by a policeman. They started in the direction of the defendant's home, at Forty-Fifth street and Normal avenue. Walsh lived at Forty-Third place and Wallace street, and they were not going toward his home. When they reached a point on Forty-Fifth street where a railroad crosses the street at an elevation there was another fight, and Walsh knocked the defendant down and kicked him. The defendant ran to his home and procured a revolver and returned and met the others. He and Walsh talked a few minutes, apparently in a friendly way— at least on the part of the defendant, who was not quarreling or attempting in any way to provoke a quarrel—and after talking in that way a short time the defendant drew the revolver, shot Walsh and killed him. The defendant and three others picked up the body and carried it to the defendant's home, where it was laid on the floor, and he had a doctor called.

The defendant testified that when the fight started in the saloon he said to Walsh that they were good friends, and asked him why he did not go home, but Walsh said he would see him outside, and when they got outside Walsh struck him; that when they were under the viaduct Walsh knocked him down and kicked him three or four times; that he got up and ran home, going west on Forty-Fifth street and south on Normal; that he got his revolver and came back and met the others, who were following him; that he walked up to Walsh and talked with him a few minutes, and said that they had always been good friends and advised him to go home, and they would be good friends again in the morning; that some one in the crowd said, ‘Get him now!’ and Walsh put his hand in his right-hand coat pocket; that he stepped back about a foot, and Walsh pulled out his revolver, and he pulled out his revolver to defend himself, and fired the shot; that when he shot, Walsh said he would either get the defendant or the defendant would get him; that Walsh was pulling the gun out of his pocket, and the defendant honestly believed he was in actual danger of being killed or receiving bodily harm; that he was awful sorry, because they were good friends, and that he, with three others, carried the body to his house, and told a woman to call a doctor.

Walter Bowen, who was with the party and was called by the court as a witness, testified that while the body of Walsh was lying on the floor in defendant's home the witness reached down and took a gun out of Walsh's right-hand coat pocket, ran down the stairs and took it into the alley and threw it underneath a barn; that he then went to a wake, where he had been with Walsh the previous evening before going to the saloon; that it had been raining while the gun was under the barn and it got rusty, and he took it from under the barn and gave it to the state's attorney. The revolver was identified, and had two cartridges in it.

There is an assignment of error on the giving of two instructions asked by the people relating to confessions, and to understand the question raised it is necessary to recite the evidence as to the statements made by the defendant upon which the instructions were based.

After the shooting policemen came to the front and rear of defendant's residence, and some of them entered and asked who did the shooting, and the defendant said that he did. Being asked where the revolver was, he went to the bedroom, took it from under the mattress, and gave it to the police, and expressed regret for what he had done. He was arrested and taken to the police station, and was interrogated as to the homicide, and questions and answers were written down and signed by him. The written statement was admitted in evidence after several policemen had testified to their recollection of what the defendant said. The trial was in January, 1921, and the recollection of the policemen was not very clear, and one of them, who said that he had charge of the particular case, also said that it had been so long ago that he could not remember the statement. Malachy Murphy, one of the policemen, testified that the defendant, when he made the statement at the police station, said that he did not know what he shot Walsh for; that he was sorry, for he was a good friend and they had been friends for years; that he told about a quarrel, and after they left the saloon that he was struck by Walsh; that he said something about ‘some one was going to get him;’ that Walsh was coming down the street after him, following him, and he went home to get his gun; that Walsh had a revolver in his hand, and that he fired in self-defense; that he was sorry that he shot Walsh, and afterward helped to take Walsh to his home and gave him some water to drink and told some one to call a doctor. Thomas Reilly, another policeman,...

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22 cases
  • People v. Rebollar-Vergara
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • March 25, 2019
    ...crime, and not merely a declaration or admission of facts criminating in their nature or tending to show guilt." People v. Stapleton , 300 Ill. 471, 476, 133 N.E. 224 (1921). "It is limited in its meaning to the commission of a criminal act and is an acknowledgment or admission of participa......
  • People v. Oliver
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • June 21, 1977
    ...guilt of the crime may be inferred but from which guilt does not necessarily follow. (Citations omitted.)" See People v. Stapleton (1921), 300 Ill. 471, 476, 133 N.E. 224. The statements attributed to the defendant cannot be fairly characterized as a confession. They are merely fragments of......
  • People v. Muhammad
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 22, 2023
    ... ... either by a statement of the details of the crime or an ... admission of the ultimate fact."); People v ... Manske , 399 Ill. 176, 184-85 (1948) ("A confession ... is an acknowledgement of guilt, and not of any particular ... fact connected with the case."); People v ... Stapleton , 300 Ill. 471, 476 (1921) ("a voluntary ... declaration by a person charged with crime of his agency or ... participation in the crime, and not merely a declaration or ... admission of facts criminating in their nature or tending to ... show guilt."); People v. Rollins , 119 ... Ill.App.2d ... ...
  • Brown v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Delaware
    • May 26, 1954
    ...826, 59 S.E. 101; People v. Sovetsky, 323 Ill. 133, 153 N.E. 615; People v. Spranger, 314 Ill. 602, 145 N.E. 706; People v. Stapleton, 300 Ill. 471, 133 N.E. 224; and 23 C.J.S., Criminal Law, § We think that the appellant is correct in arguing that the court's charge with respect to confess......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • "I loved Joe, but I had to shoot him": homicide by women in turn-of-the-century Chicago.
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology No. 2002, March 2002
    • March 22, 2002
    ...(108) No Chicago Woman Convicted of Murder, supra note 93, at 3. (109) For Illinois case law on self-defense, see Illinois v. Stapleton, 133 N.E. 224, 226 (Ill. 1921); Illinois v. Forte, 110 N.E. 47, 49 (Ill. 1915); Illinois v. Williams, 88 N.E. 1053, 1056 (Ill. 1909); Foglia v. Illinois, 8......

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