State v. Champion, No. 18029.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Ohio
Writing for the CourtWANAMAKER
Citation142 N.E. 141,109 Ohio St. 281
PartiesSTATE v. CHAMPION.
Docket NumberNo. 18029.
Decision Date15 January 1924

109 Ohio St. 281
142 N.E. 141

STATE
v.
CHAMPION.

No. 18029.

Supreme Court of Ohio.

Jan. 15, 1924.


Error to Court of Appeals, Cuyahoga County.

Mabel Champion was convicted of manslaughter in the court of common pleas. The conviction was reversed by the Court of Appeals, and the State brings error. Reversed, and judgment of court of common pleas affirmed.-[By Editorial Staff.]

Mabel Champion was indicted by the grand jury of Cuyahoga county, Ohio, on a charge of murder in the first degree. In the trial of the cause in the court of common pleas, before Judge Bernon, she was found guilty of manslaughter.

Motion for a new trial was duly filed and overruled, judgment entered, and sentence pronounced upon the verdict. Error was prosecuted to the Court of Appeals, which reversed the judgment of the court of common pleas and remanded the case for a new trial.

Error is now prosecuted to this court, to reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and affirm the judgment of the court of common pleas.



Syllabus by the Court

The right of self-defense, to repel actual or threatened force, requires that defendant shall bona fide believe herself to be in danger of death or great bodily harm, and shall bona fide believe her only means of escape from such danger to be in using the force she used, and that she have reasonable grounds for such belief. (Marts v. State, 26 Ohio St. 162, approved and followed.)

Where defendant entirely fails to testify as to such bona fide belief, she has no right to claim justification by way of self-defense.

In a case of homicide, where defendant testifies that she did not intend to fire the fatal shot, and that she did not knowingly ‘pull the trigger,’ such testimony is entirely inconsistent and irreconcilable with the right of self-defense.

Where, under the evidence, it is clear and convincing that the force and violence complained of by the state killed the deceased, a charge of assault and assault and battery is improper. (Bandy v. State, 102 Ohio St. 384, 131 N. E. 499, 21 A. L. R. 594, approved and followed.)

Where, at the close of the general charge of the trial judge in a case of murder, defendant's counsel makes a special request for the court to charge on (1) self-defense, (2) assault, (3) assault and battery, and (4) accidental homicide, and the court refuses to charge as to self-defense, assault, and assault and battery, but does charge as to accidental homicide, and defendant's counsel thereupon excepts to the special request refused as to self-defense, assault, and assault and battery, but takes no exception as to accidental homicide, as given, and makes no further request in that behalf, the defendant may not thereafter complain as to what the court said or omitted to say as to accidental homicide, if the general charge correctly places the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt upon the state.


[Ohio St. 282]

[142 N.E. 142]

Edward C. Stanton, Pros. Atty., and James T. Cassidy, Asst. Pros. Atty., both of Cleveland, for the State.

Reed, Meals, Orgill & Maschke and L. A. Tucker, all of Cleveland, for defendant in error.


WANAMAKER, J.

The journal entry of the Court of Appeals shows that--

‘Judgment of the said court of common pleas is reversed, for error of the court in not charging self-defense, for error in not properly charging [Ohio St. 283]the jury on accidental shooting, and for error in the admission of evidence, no other error appearing in the record, and this cause is remanded to said court of common pleas for further proceedings.’

(1) Under the evidence in this case, especially the testimony of the defendant herself, was she entitled to a charge on the law of self-defense? The essential prerequisites to invoking the right of self-defense have been so clearly and convincingly stated again and again by our Ohio courts that it would seem unnecessary to detail at length the settled law on this subject. The parent case, which has been often approved and reapproved, is that of Marts v. State, 26 Ohio St. 162, decided nearly a half century ago. The second paragraph of the syllabus is definite and decisive:

‘Homicide is justifiable on the ground of self-defense, where the slayer, in the careful and proper use of his faculties, bona fide believes, and has reasonable ground to believe, that he is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, and that his only means of escape from such danger will be by taking the life of his assailant. * * *’

(a) Defendant must ‘ bona fide believe’ that she is ‘in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.’

(b) Defendant must bona fide believe that her ‘only means of escape from such danger’ will be by taking the life of her assailant.

(c) The defendant must have ‘reasonable grounds' for such bona fide belief.

Nowhere in the defendant's evidence does she testify that she bona fide believed either of said [Ohio St. 284]propositions. Upon the contrary, the record shows that she testified that she did not intend to shoot the deceased nor to do him any harm whatsoever.

These essential prerequisites to invoking the right of self-defense are of such a nature as to require personal, specific testimony from the defendant herself as to her belief in the premises. Who else could testify as to her belief? It is not a question of inference or circumstantial evidence. The facts and circumstances outside of her personal testimony may be used to corroborate her belief, or overcome the same, but are clearly wholly insufficient as the basis of an inference of such belief, in the absence of her personal testimony that she then entertained and had reasonable ground to entertain such belief.

When the Marts Case, supra, was decided this court was composed of such eminent...

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191 practice notes
  • State v. Basham, 2007 Ohio 6995 (Ohio App. 12/26/2007), No. CT2007-0010.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 26, 2007
    ...investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro (1948), 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367; State v. Champion (1924), 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144. State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d {¶100} In State v. Clemons t......
  • State v. Dover, 2008 Ohio 1071 (Ohio App. 3/10/2008), No. 2007-CA-00140.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 10, 2008
    ...investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro (1948), 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367; State v. Champion (1924), 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144. State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d 909, {¶75} In State v. Clemo......
  • State v. McMillen, 2009 Ohio 210 (Ohio App. 1/20/2009), No. 2008-CA-00122.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • January 20, 2009
    ...investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro (1948), 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367; State v. Champion (1924), 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144. State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d {¶99} In State v. Clemons, t......
  • State v. Johnson, Case No. 2016CA00069
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 19, 2016
    ...under investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro, 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367(1948); State v. Champion, 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144(1924). State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d 909,916(1993). {¶73} In ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
191 cases
  • State v. Basham, 2007 Ohio 6995 (Ohio App. 12/26/2007), No. CT2007-0010.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 26, 2007
    ...investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro (1948), 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367; State v. Champion (1924), 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144. State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d {¶100} In State v. Clemons t......
  • State v. Dover, 2008 Ohio 1071 (Ohio App. 3/10/2008), No. 2007-CA-00140.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • March 10, 2008
    ...investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro (1948), 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367; State v. Champion (1924), 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144. State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d 909, {¶75} In State v. Clemo......
  • State v. McMillen, 2009 Ohio 210 (Ohio App. 1/20/2009), No. 2008-CA-00122.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • January 20, 2009
    ...investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro (1948), 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367; State v. Champion (1924), 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144. State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d {¶99} In State v. Clemons, t......
  • State v. Johnson, Case No. 2016CA00069
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Ohio)
    • December 19, 2016
    ...under investigation may be commented upon." State v. Petro, 148 Ohio St. 473, 498, 162, 76 N.E.2d 355, 367(1948); State v. Champion, 109 Ohio St. 281, 289-290, 142 N.E. 141, 143-144(1924). State v. D'Ambrosio (1993), 67 Ohio St.3d 185, 193, 1993-Ohio-170, 616 N.E.2d 909,916(1993). {¶73} In ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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