Rentfrow v. State

CourtSupreme Court of Georgia
Citation51 S.E. 596,123 Ga. 539
Decision Date01 August 1905

Syllabus by the Court.

Even though the admission of the testimony objected to may have been erroneous, the error was subsequently cured by the action of the trial judge in ruling the evidence out and instructing the jury to disregard it.

An essential element of voluntary manslaughter is passion on the part of the slayer. The fact that the person slain may himself have been actuated by violent passion, in the absence of any demonstration by him against the slayer, has no bearing upon the grade of the homicide. Unless it be shown that the person killing was so overcome by passion as to exclude all idea of deliberation or malice, the killing is not voluntary manslaughter. Tested by this rule, there was no manslaughter in the present case.

Error from Superior Court, Fayette County; E. J. Reagan, Judge.

Stephen Rentfrow was convicted of murder, and brings error. Affirmed.

A. O Blalock, J. W. Wise, and Hugh M. Dorsey, for plaintiff in error.

O. H B. Bloodworth, Sol. Gen., and Jno. C. Hart, Atty. Gen., for the State.


Stephen Rentfrow was tried for the murder of his daughter-in-law Mary Rentfrow, and was found guilty, with a recommendation that he be sentenced to the penitentiary for life. He made a motion for a new trial, which was overruled, and he excepted.

1. The motion complains that the court erred in admitting evidence to the effect that the character of the accused for violence was bad, over the objection, made at the time the evidence was offered, that only the general character of the accused was in issue, and that evidence as to his character for any particular trait was inadmissible. Regardless of the merit of this objection, it appears that before the argument began the court ruled out the evidence objected to, and instructed the jury to disregard it; and so, conceding that the admission of the evidence in the first place was erroneous, that error was completely cured, and the accused has no ground for complaint.

2. The two remaining grounds of the amendment to the motion for a new trial both complain, in effect, that the court erred in failing to give in charge to the jury the law of voluntary manslaughter; and this is really the controlling question in the case. The case is, on its facts, a very peculiar one. The accused is an aged man--nearly four score years old--and the deceased, as has already been stated, was his daughter-in-law. It is inferable from the testimony of the witnesses that there had long been bad feeling between the families of the two, and that the entire story of the causes leading up to the homicide is not disclosed by the record brought to this court. The only eyewitness to the tragedy was Ross Rentfrow, the husband of the deceased and the son of the accused. From his testimony it appeared that the killing took place between 6 and 7 o'clock in the morning. Witness and his wife were living on land belonging to the accused. As witness was preparing to go to his work, he observed the accused, at a distance of nearly 200 yards from the house where he and his wife were, apparently about to go through a garden which the latter had cultivated. Witness "thought he was going to tear up the garden," whereupon he called his wife's attention to the matter. "She watched him until he got to the garden. Then she taken her gun, and said she was going to make him get out of her garden. He had threatened to tear the garden all to pieces. *** She just said he had to get out of the garden; that she and her children had worked it and made it. *** I said if I was her I would not go. She said she would go or die. The gun was loaded." The deceased then went to the garden, carrying the loaded gun, while witness remained at the house, a distance of 175 yards intervening. As to whether witness could hear what conversation took place between the accused at that distance the record is not clear. He testified: "She asked him to get out of the garden; that she had worked and made it; and that is...

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1 cases
  • Rentfrow v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Georgia
    • August 1, 1905
    ...123 Ga. 53951 S.E. 596RENTFROW.v.STATE.Supreme Court of Georgia.Aug. 1, 1905. 1. Criminal Law—Harmless Error. Even though the admission of the testimony objected to may have been erroneous, the error was subsequently cured by the action of the trial judge in ruling the evidence out and inst......

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