State v. Beason, 11061

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Citation506 P.2d 1340,95 Idaho 267
Docket NumberNo. 11061,11061
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Bobby L. BEASON, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date01 March 1973

Howard D. Humphrey, Clemons, Cosho, Humphrey & Samuelson, Boise, for appellant.

W. Anthony Park, Atty. Gen., James G. Reid, Deputy Atty. Gen., Boise, for appellee.

McFADDEN, Justice.

Following a jury trial and verdict finding the defendant Bobby L. Beason guilty of murder in the second degree for the death of two year old Matthew Blair, the trial court entered judgment of conviction and sentenced him to a term not to exceed thirty years. This appeal is from the judgment and sentence.

The evidence in this case is basically circumstantial, and a review of the facts is essential to comprehend defendant's assignments of error. Until March of 1971 Matthew Blair lived alone with his mother Rebecca Blair. This ended shortly after Rebecca met the defendant sometime during the middle of March. Within a week Beason began living with Rebecca Blair in the home where Matthew lived. Beason intended to marry Rebecca and make Matthew his 'own' son. Beason eventually married Rebecca Blair on June 8, 1971. (Hereinafter Rebecca will be referred to as Rebecca Beason.)

At the time of Matthew's death the defendant was eighteen years old. He worked as a manual laborer in a potato warehouse, had only completed the eleventh grade in school, and possessed no special skills. The pre-sentence psychological reports characterized Beason as having an intelligence level ranging from normal to low normal and 'a poor impulse control, or acts out in an inept manner under minimal frustration.' The reports also indicated that the defendant was not psychotic.

As a result of the relationship which developed while living with Rebecca Blair the defendant gradually assumed parental responsibilities over Matthaw. During the second week of April, 1971, they moved from North Main Street in Blackfoot, Idaho, to North Schilling Street. After the move the defendant began disciplining Matthew and assisting Rebecca in his toilet training. Beason required that Matthew wash his 'soiled' diapers in the toilet bowl as a 'psychological' lesson. Prior to meeting the defendant Rebecca Beason had attempted to toilet train the child without success.

Although the mother usually changed Matthew's diapers, Beason occasionally performed this task. Rebecca Beason testified that the defendant often spanked Matthew for wetting his diapers. The frequency and severity of the discipline is a dominant issue in this appeal. For example, within a week after moving to Schilling Street Rebecca Beason complained to Beason about the severity of his corporal punishment of Matthew. Often, she interceded and told Beason 'that's enough.' Beason usually punished Matthew in the bathroom out of Rebecca's sight for wetting his diaper. Because her presence interfered with this discipline, Rebecca Beason absented herself from the bathroom. Rebecca explained that Matthew would attempt to go to her, if she were present, to seek love. From the record it is clear that Rebecca voluntarily consented to Beason disciplining Matthew within limits. Rebecca Beason stated that during the two weeks preceding his death Matthew occasionally exhibited fear of Beason.

Margo Westover, Rebecca Beason's cousin, described Beason's relationship with Matthew. On April 17, 1971, Beason, Matthew and Rebecca visited Margo Westover. Margo had tended Matthew ever since his birth. During this visit Beason told Margo that earlier in the morning Matthew soiled his diaper and that he spanked Matthew for it. In describing the spanking Beason exclaimed to Margo that he had really 'showed him 'what for. " She also stated:

'A. Matt was crying and trying to get down so he could go to his mother, and Bobby (Beason) wouldn't let him down for a minute. And finally he set him down on the floor, and, as Matt started walking towards his mother, Bobby grabbed ahold of his shirt and pulled him down. And Matt got up and he-Bobby grabbed ahold of his shirt and pulled him down again, and Matt got up and-and the same thing happened again, but this time, when he got up, he quit, and Matt got to go to Rebecca.'

Margo testified that Matthew's eyes looked 'watery' and that Matthew sat listlessly on the couch during this visit. When Beason picked Matthew up once, Margo saw a big red bruise on Matthew's back above his waist. Margo identified this bruise in a photograph exhibit during the trial. On April 16, a day earlier, Margo noticed two scratches on Matthew's forehead and cheek. Prior to these occasions Margo never saw any bruises or other injuries on Matthew. A photograph taken by Margo on April 2, 1971, showed Matthew as a normal, healthy child without any visible injuries; this photograph sharply contrasts with the state's post mortem photographic exhibits showing multiple bruises on Matthew's body and head. As a result of Matthew's poor physical appearance and Beason's handling of the child, on April 18, 1971, Margo called an employee of the Idaho State Department of Public Assistance to report a possible case of child abuse.

A number of witnesses, all the defendant's relatives, described numerous mishaps and accidents which befell Matthew during the two weeks preceding his death. All of these accidents allegedly produced various bruises and injuries on Matthew. Although this testimony is unrefuted, none of the accounts accurately describe the extent and nature of the injuries. For example, Rebecca Beason could not remember exactly when Matthew was injured on two occasions; she offered no description of the resulting injuries. During the first two weeks of April Matthew purportedly had five distinctly different accidents: two falls off porches, a fall from a swing, a fall from a tricycle, and a fall on a disassembled automobile engine. The latter accident apparently was the most serious. On April 15, 1971, Beason and Matthew visited Chester Lewis, Beason's uncle. Matthew was playing near a disassembled automobile engine. Mrs. Norma Robinson, Beason's aunt, described the mishap at trial as follows:

'A. Well, he was playing near a corner in the garage, and there was a motor there; and the motor had the head parts off, and there were head bolts and some little things like fingers sticking up through the motor; it wasn't covered; and he fell into this motor, and one of them kind of went inside of his mouth, and I saw some blood running and I screamed, and Lucinda picked the baby up and went into the house; and it had hit its stomach kinda across the motor as it fell into these things.

Q. Could you describe the fall with respect to its-the degree of force that might be involved?

A. Well he-when he went into it, he kind of flipped; he fell on his stomach; and it-I think it must have been a larger car; it wasn't one of those six cylinders like I've seen; it had the four on one side and four things on the other side of it; and he flipped right over into it; he made almost a somersault.'

It is difficult to correlate the bruises on Matthew's body visible in the photographic exhibits with the testimony concerning his accidents. Furthermore, none of the witnesses testified about a large bruise appearing above the public area which the pathologist deemed related to a blow or force which caused Matthew's fatal injuries.

The only sources of information concerning the events surrounding Matthew's death are the testimony of Rebecca and the defendant and testimony and photographs of the condition of the child's body. Apparently, most of the events focus around the activity in the bathroom when the defendant disciplined Matthew and changed his diapers. The major inconsistency between Beason's and Rebecca' versions appears in the timing of certain events. Initially, Rebecca testified that dinner was at 6:00 p. m. and Matthew's bedtime was 6:30. Under cross-examination by the defense attorney she retreated from her earlier time estimates and placed each event an hour to an hour and a half later in the evening. This testimony coincided with the defendant's version.

Because her narrative is restrained and cautious, Rebecca Beason's testimony is not informative in deciphering the sketchy events which occurred that evening. After Matthew went to bed, Rebecca Beason never saw him alive again. Between 6:30 p. m. (or 8:00 p. m.) and 10:30 p. m. Rebecca was either watching television or lying on her bed alone. She never accompanied Beason and Matthew into the bathroom. Consequently, her testimony stems basically from what she heard. First, Rebecca stated she heard some 'banging sounds' come from the bathroom. Secondly, she stated she heard Matthew squeal or holler. In her testimony Rebecca, aided by an earlier statement made to the police, recounted what she overheard that evening:

'Q. And that later on in that same statement-As a matter of fact, one of the last things you told Mr. Taylor and Mr. Summers before you went in and wrote your statement, do you remember saying something to this effect: 'That Bobby raised his voice real loud'-Now talking about Sunday night, O.K.?--

A. Uh-huh.

Q.--'That Bobby raised his voice real loud with Matt when they were in the bathroom the first time, had said something to the effect as 'why did you do that?"

A. Yes, I can remember saying that.

Q. O.K. Do you know what the banging on the tub was?

A. I couldn't say for sure.

Q. Do you know how many times you'd heard it before?

A. Many times.

Q. That same night you heard spanking in the bathroom, too, didn't you?

A. I cannot remember.'

Q. And also you heard Matt scream at least twice, didn't you?

A. I wouldn't say it was a scream.

Q. But it stopped suddenly?

A. I don't know-I don't know what you mean.

Q. Well, it stopped suddenly, the screaming?

A. Not really.

Q. Or at least the noise he was making, it was quite loud, whatever it was, wasn't it?

A. It was loud.

Q. And, as a matter of fact, there had...

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  • State v. Adamcik
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • 25 Enero 2012
    ...fact which must be considered with all the other circumstantial evidence relevant to the appellant's actions." State v. Beason, 95 Idaho 267, 276, 506 P.2d 1340, 1349 (1973). The absence of considerable provocation was relevant to show that Adamcik acted with malice as otherwise defined. 7.......
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    • 29 Noviembre 2011
    ...pertinent fact which must be considered with all the other circumstantial evidence relevant to the appellant's actions." State v. Beason, 95 Idaho 267, 276, 506 P.2d 1340, 1349 (1973). The absence of considerable provocation was relevant to show that Adamcik acted with malice as otherwise d......
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