State v. Anderson

Decision Date02 November 1936
Docket Number14368.
Citation188 S.E. 186,181 S.C. 527
PartiesSTATE v. ANDERSON et al.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from General Sessions Circuit Court of Anderson County Philip H. Stoll, Judge.

Sam W Anderson and Sam Powell were convicted of murder, and they appeal.


L. G Southard, of Spartanburg, for appellants.

Rufus Fant, Jr., Sol., and A. H. Dagnall, both of Anderson, for the State.

BAKER Justice.

At the 1936 February term of the court of general sessions for Anderson county, the appellants were convicted of the murder of one W. A. Daniel, a taxicab driver, and sentenced to death by electrocution.

The undisputed facts regarding the killing show that a cold-blooded and brutal murder was planned and carried into execution, the only motive therefor being that the appellants desired the possession and use of an automobile. A detail statement of the gruesome facts surrounding the killing is unnecessary to a decision of the case, and are, therefore, purposely omitted. We have, however, painstakingly reviewed the voluminous record. Upon the trial of the case on circuit, the sole defense was that of insanity of the defendants-appellants, who were first cousins.

The killing occurred on January 11, 1936. At the 1936 February term of the court of general sessions for Anderson county, on an indictment charging appellants jointly with the murder of W. A. Daniel, the grand jury found a "True Bill," and on February 6, 1936, the State announced ready for trial. Thereupon, counsel for the appellant, Sam Anderson, made a motion for a continuance of the case as to him on the ground that the wife of this defendant was seriously ill and unable to attend court, and was a material witness in his behalf. In support of the motion, there was filed an affidavit of Dr. J. Bennett Townsend, the personal physician of Mrs. Anderson, that she was confined to her bed suffering from influenza, having at that time a temperature of 102 and pulse of 84, and that she was not physically able to leave her bed. In further support of the motion, an affidavit of the appellant Anderson was filed, in which it was stated that his wife was a material witness in his behalf on the charge for which he stood indicted, and that he needed and desired the comfort, support, assistance, advice, presence, and counsel of his wife in his trial.

The State strenuously opposed a continuance of the case for the term, and upon motion, or upon the suggestion of the Solicitor, the presiding judge requested two other physicians to confer with Dr. Townsend, make an examination of Mrs. Anderson, and report to the court as to her condition. Let it be here recorded that all parties disclaimed the slightest intention of any reflection on Dr. Townsend, who is an outstanding and most reputable physician. On the same day, these two physicians, Dr. B. A. Henry and Dr. W. Martin, reported that they had examined Mrs. Anderson and found she had an attack of influenza, her temperature running from 100 to 102, her pulse exceedingly high, and that she was on the verge of an attack of pneumonia; that sometimes one so affected would get well in a few days, and then again hang on for a good long time; that just what this case would do they knew not, but possibly she might be able to attend court in a week; that it would be unsafe for her to come to court under that time. Dr. Townsend also reported he had no reason to change his written statement which had been filed with the Court, and when the presiding judge asked if in his opinion it would be wise to bring Mrs. Anderson into court "next week," frankly replied: "Next week's a pretty long time. I couldn't answer that * * *."

Following the above, and fully recognizing the decision of this court in the case of State v. Williamson, 115 S.C. 315, 105 S.E. 697, the Solicitor suggested that the case be continued until Wednesday of the following week (February 12, 1936), and that on "Tuesday we could have some physicians or get in touch with Dr. Townsend, and if at that time her condition is such that we could see it would be useless to try to try it that week, then there would be a continuance then, or see what the situation is next Tuesday and tentatively at this time continue it until Wednesday." The judge then announced he would not force the defendant-appellant to trial "today" but refused to continue the case for the term. Following the ruling of the court on the motion, it was announced in open court by counsel for appellants that the suggested plan of the Solicitor as to inquiring on the following Tuesday of the condition of Mrs. Anderson so as to determine if the case would be tried during that week or a continuance for the term be had, was both satisfactory and convenient to them. Thereupon, it was announced in open court, at the request of counsel for the appellants and the Solicitor, that all witnesses, both for the State and defense, were excused until the following Wednesday morning, but the witnesses were admonished to be back in court at that time.

On February 11 (Tuesday) Dr. Martin reported to the court that the condition of Mrs. Anderson had greatly improved, but due to her weakened condition he did not think then that she would be able to sit up in court all day long prior to Friday. Dr. Townsend also stated that while it was a difficult matter to tell what was going to happen in the next day or two, if she continued to do as well as she was doing she could come to court the latter part of the week, on Friday, but was unable to state if she could attend by Thursday.

The court refused on February 11 (Tuesday) to either continue the case for the term or definitely set a day during the week, but postponed action until the next morning, February 12, in order to ascertain the condition of Mrs. Anderson. On the morning of February 12, and in accordance with understanding announced in open court as between counsel for the State and the defense, the certificate following was read into the record:

"To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that I examined Mrs. Sam Anderson this morning at 8:30. She still has no temperature and is recuperating very nicely, although she is still weak from her influenza. My opinion this morning is that Mrs. Anderson could attend court by Thursday afternoon, February 13, 1936, without any danger to herself.

[Signed] J. W. Martin

J. W. Martin, M. D.

[Signed] J. Bennett Townsend, M. D."

After the reading of the above certificate, the transcript of record shows that the following transpired:

"The Court. Gentlemen of the defense, any objections to setting this case for trial at three o'clock tomorrow? That's in keeping with that affidavit.

Mr. Barron. It might be set for that hour, if Your Honor pleases, and in that event that we will have a report, I presume, on this lady at that time and see where we are. I don't want to waive my motion.

The Court. Oh, you don't waive anything.

Mr. Barron. As I understand from the opinion of these affidavits, she will probably be ready to come into Court tomorrow afternoon, and I suggest-

The Court. By starting the trial in the afternoon session, it will give her an opportunity to rest and be fresher the next morning .

Mr. Barron. Yes, sir.

The Court. Is that satisfactory to the State?

Mr. Fant. Yes, Your Honor.

The Court. All right, we will set the case for trial at three o'clock tomorrow.

Mr. Barron. As I understand, Your Honor, if the report at that time is that she isn't able to come into court at that time, we will have a certificate from the physician at that time.

The Court. I understand if she's not able to report, if she's in the care of the physicians, they will sent a report. However, I am not asking for any further report unless as her physicians they see fit to make a report.

Mr. Barron. I would like the Court to order that if, in any event, she is not able to be here, that the physicians so report.

The Court. I take it, Mr. Barron, a reputable physician, if he has got a patient not able to report to court, it's his duty to look out for the patient and that he will do so.

Anything else to come up this morning, Mr. Solicitor?

Mr. Fant. No, sir, Your Honor.

Mr. Barron. If Your Honor pleases, I will make an announcement to witnesses. All of the witnesses for the defendants in the case of Sam Anderson and Sam Powell be on hand tomorrow evening at three o'clock."

It should be noted here that upon the trial of the case on circuit, Hon. P. D. Barron was of counsel for appellants.

On February 13 (Thursday) at 3 o'clock p. m., the State announced ready for trial. Thereupon, counsel for appellants made a motion for a continuance of the case, raising the question of the mental capacity of appellants to commit a crime. On this phase of the case, and the exceptions relating thereto, we later herein devote more time. The motion to continue the case for the term having been refused, the court directed the clerk to, "Give us a jury." While it is lengthy, we quote in full from the record immediately following the direction to the clerk to "Give us a jury."

"Mr. Fant. Your Honor please, we would like for the jury to be sworn on their voir dire.

The Court. Very good, sir.

Mr. Barron. One minute, if the Court pleases! We would like to call our witnesses to see who is here.

Mr Southard. Your Honor, Dr. Horton, Dr. Sanders, Mr. King, Mr. Waltors and Mr. Gaines are absent; they have been put under subp na in this case of Sam Powell. And we think most of the witnesses in the case of the State against Sam Anderson will be present, but Mrs. Lydia Anderson is under subp na, the defendant's wife, and isn't here. I don't know where she is. I haven't seen her or communicated with her. Dr. Acker,...

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7 cases
  • State v. Gibert
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • February 24, 1941
    ... ... same. State v. Knox, 98 S.C. 114, 82 S.E. 278; ... State v. Mills, 79 S.C. 187, 60 S.E. 664; State ... v. Dill, 48 S.C. 249, 26 S.E. 567; State v ... Robertson, 26 S.C. 117, 1 S.E. 443; State v ... Bolin, 177 S.C. 57, 180 S.E. 809; State v ... Anderson, 181 S.C. 527, 188 S.E. 186 ...           In ... State v. Robertson, supra, the court adhered to the general ... doctrine that where the defendant testified in his own behalf ... without having placed his good [196 S.C. 309] character in ... question, his reputation for truth and ... ...
  • State v. Penland
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • January 6, 1981
    ...argument was not to be considered as evidence. Appellant's failure to move for a mistrial constituted waiver. State v. Anderson, et al., 181 S.C. 527, 188 S.E. 186 (1936); State v. Gore, A trial court is vested with wide discretion in determining the scope of argument. State v. Durden, 264 ......
  • State v. Warren
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • August 20, 1945
    ...of the Court were inadequate to protect the rights of the defendant, then a motion for a mistrial should have been made. State v. Anderson, 181 S.C. 527, 188 S.E. 186. Counsel earnestly argue that the principles involved go further than the mere admissibility of testimony and affect the fun......
  • State v. Bradley
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 11, 2000
    ...whether a defendant should be given a mental examination. State v. Bradshaw, 269 S.C. 642, 239 S.E.2d 652 (1977); State v. Anderson, 181 S.C. 527, 188 S.E. 186 (1936); State v. Chandler, 126 S.C. 149, 119 S.E. 774 (1923). In Bradshaw the court stated: "We think it clear ... that the trial j......
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