State v. Ameker

Citation53 S.E. 484,73 S.C. 330
PartiesSTATE v. AMEKER.
Decision Date26 February 1906
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina

Appeal from General Sessions Circuit Court of Orangeburg County Dantzler, Judge.

Abe Ameker and others were convicted of conspiracy, and appeal. Affirmed.

W. H Sharpe, Wolfe & Berry, and Jas. F. Izlar, for appellants. P F. Hildebrand, for the State.

POPE C.J.

The defendants were tried under the following indictment "The jurors of and for the county aforesaid, in the state aforesaid, upon their oath, present, that Abe Ameker, B. Lee Jeffcoat, J. B. Ameker, Cleveland Hooker, William Jamison, James McLeod, late of the county aforesaid, on the twenty-second day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand and nine hundred and five, with force and arms, at Orangeburg, in the county and state aforesaid, then and there unlawfully, feloniously, and willfully conspired together, and banded themselves together at a certain public place in the county and state aforesaid, to wit, at Laurel Bay, for the purpose of hindering, preventing, and obstructing certain citizens of the United States and of this state of and from the free exercise of their rights and privileges, accorded them under the laws of the United States and the laws of this state, by then and there obstructing, hindering, and preventing, L. P. Wisenhunt, T. A. Salley, E. J. Salley, Robert Salley, R. J. Salley, Charlie Hall, S. B. Hall, M. S. Williams, Mike Fanning, Arthur Robinson, Dan Davis, Mrs. Tom Salley, Mrs. R. E. Fanning, Mrs. S. B. Hall, Mrs. G. S. Davis, Willis Williams and divers other persons to the jurors aforesaid unknown, who, being then and there assembled for the purpose of engaging in social intercourse and peaceable pastimes, such as are commonly enjoyed at picnics, and were so engaged; they, the said Abe Ameker, B. Lee Jeffcoat, J. B. Ameker, Cleveland Hooker, William Jamison and James McLeod, in pursuance of the said conspiracy, then and there unlawfully, violently, riotously, tumultuously, with pistols and other weapons, and threats, routing and putting to flight the said L. P. Wisenhunt, T. A. Salley, E. J. Salley, Robert Salley, R. J. Salley, Charlie Hall, S. B. Hall, M. S. Williams, Mike Fanning, Arthur Robinson, Dan Davis, Mrs. Tom Salley, Mrs. R. E. Fanning, Mrs. S. B. Hall, Mrs. G. S. Davis, Willis Williams and divers other persons to the jurors aforesaid unknown, against the form of the statute in such cases made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the state." After the introduction of testimony for the state and the charge of his honor, Judge C. C. Dantzler, the jury found the verdict of guilty, and the defendants, Abe Ameker, J. B. Ameker and Cleveland Hooker, were each sentenced to be imprisoned in the county jail of Orangeburg county at hard labor upon the public works of said county, for the term of two years, or be confined in the State Penitentiary at hard labor for a like period. The two defendants, William Williamson and James McLeod, were each sentenced to be imprisoned in the county jail of Orangeburg county at hard labor upon the public works of said county for a period of 18 months, or be confined in the State Penitentiary at hard labor for a like period.

From this judgment the defendants appealed to this court upon the following grounds: "(1) Because his honor erred, in holding that notwithstanding there was no statute making the offense criminal for which the defendants stood indicted, the said indictment was good at common law, and that the defendants could be tried thereunder, and if convicted could be punished as a common-law offense is punished. (2) Because his honor erred in holding that the offense with which the defendants were charged constituted a criminal conspiracy and could be punished as such, at common law, if the defendants were convicted, notwithstanding the object in attending the picnic may have been lawful, if the means employed for attaining said object were unlawful. (3) Because his honor erred in holding that notwithstanding the gist of every conspiracy is the unlawful combination of two or more persons to do an unlawful act, no previous agreement of the parties charged was necessary to complete the crime, but that the conspiracy might arise on the instant and be proven by the circumstances surrounding the act; whereas, he should have held that both under statute and at common law, some unlawful means should have been contemplated or used, some overt act committed, some combination of the defendants for carrying their plans into effect must be proved; and that under the circumstances here no such agreement could have been entered into between the defendants, or inferred from their conduct or acts. (4) Because his honor erred in holding that if the conduct of the defendants on the occasion was such as to tend a breach of the peace, they could be punished at common law; whereas, he should have held, that if each of the defendants acted singly and individually and for himself, on the occasion, the crime of conspiracy was not committed, and the defendants could not be punished under the said indictment for such crime, either under the statute law or at common law. (5) Because there is no such crime as conspiracy either by statute or at common law in attending a public picnic, the object being a lawful one, and there being no previous combination or agreement to commit any crime proved, and his honor erred in not so holding, and in not so instructing the jury. (6) Because the means used as shown by the acts of the defendants, and the testimony before the court at the trial, did not amount to an indictable crime either under the statute or at common law, but at the most merely a civil injury, and his honor erred in not so holding and charging the jury. (7) Because his honor erred in not quashing the indictment on the ground that it did not charge an indictable offense either under any statute or at common law. And after verdict against the defendants, the same being a misdemeanor, not making the sentence of the court fine and imprisonment, and in drawing a distinction therein, the verdict being guilty generally. (8) Because his honor erred in not making the prisoners arraigned, if the offense was felony, and made so by statute, as contended by the learned solicitor. (9) Because his honor erred, in holding that the indictment was one at common law; that no overt act was necessary to render the crime complete, and that the jury might infer the previous combination from the circumstances, such as the conduct and acts of the parties after their arrival on the picnic grounds; whereas, the circuit judge should have held and instructed the jury that there is no liability for acts not contemplated, and which are not within the purpose of the conspiracy or in the natural consequence of the execution of such purpose. (10) Because his honor erred in refusing on motion to strike out the surplusage in the indictment and to elect on which charge of conspiracy the state would proceed against the defendants. (11) Because his honor erred in ruling that the defendants would go to trial on the charge of conspiracy contained in the indictment, and in refusing to require the state to elect the same, charging an offense both of common law and under the statute law, and in holding that the conspiracy charged by the indictment was a conspiracy at common law, and not under any statute law of the state; whereas, he should have granted the motion to elect on which charge ...

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7 cases
  • State v. Crawford
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 31, 2005
    ...combination. The crime is then complete, even though nothing further is done." Ferguson at 303, 70 S.E.2d at 356 (citing State v. Ameker, 73 S.C. 330, 53 S.E. 484 (1906)). A formal or express agreement need not be established. Horne at 381, 478 S.E.2d at 293. "A tacit, mutual understanding,......
  • State v. Gordon
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • October 20, 2003
    ...or unlawful object, or of achieving by criminal or unlawful means an object that is neither criminal nor unlawful. State v. Ameker, 73 S.C. 330, 53 S.E. 484 (1906). The gravamen of the offense of conspiracy is the agreement or combination. State v. Dasher, 7. Gordon's reliance on State v. A......
  • State v. Hammitt
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • July 17, 2000
    ...313 S.C. 124, 133-34, 437 S.E.2d 75, 80 (1993),cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1115, 114 S.Ct. 1063, 127 L.Ed.2d 383 (citing State v. Ameker, 73 S.C. 330, 53 S.E. 484 (1906)); see also S.C.Code Ann. § 16-17-410 (Supp.1999); State v. Wilson, 315 S.C. 289, 433 S.E.2d 864 (1993). The gravamen of conspi......
  • State v. Williams
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • November 30, 1938
    ... ... [199 S.E. 909.] ... the law of conspiracy was correctly charged, although not ... elaborated upon, nor was a fuller charge requested at the ... conclusion of it. The instruction is in substantial agreement ... with that approved by the court in the State v ... Ameker, 73 S.C. 330, 53 S.E. 484. The instruction ... complained of is a plain statement of the law, and carried ... with it no suggestion, direct or indirect, of the trial ... Judge's opinion of the facts. Nor, under the ... circumstances, do we find error in the course he followed in ... recalling ... ...
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