State v. Connor, No. 23720.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtHigbee
Citation252 S.W. 713
Decision Date11 June 1923
Docket NumberNo. 23720.
PartiesSTATE v. CONNOR
252 S.W. 713
STATE
v.
CONNOR
No. 23720.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 2.
June 11, 1923.

[252 S.W. 714]

Appeal from Circuit Court, Randolph County; A. W. Walker, Judge.

Roy Connor was convicted of murder in the second degree, and he appeals. Reversed and remanded.

Hunter & Chamier, of Moberly, for appellant.

Jesse W. Barrett, Atty. Gen., and J. Henry Caruthers, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

HIGBEE, C.


The defendant was charged by information with murder in the first degree in that on. October 18, 1920, he shot Earl Williams in the face with a shotgun, death resulting on the following day. The jury found the defendant guilty of murder in the second degree and assessed his punishment at imprisonment in the penitentiary for a term of 25 years.

Earl Williams and the defendant were employed in a coal mine located about one mile from Jacksonville in Randolph county. On the day the killing occurred, while several miners were waiting for the cage at the bottom of the shaft, Earl addressed angry and insulting words to the defendant and said, "I'll see you on top." When the cage reached the top, as the defendant went out, Earl followed "him, jumped on defendant's back, threw him down, and fell on him. Connor fell on his face, striking his forehead on one of the rails of the track leading from the shaft. Earl remained on defendant's back and struck him hard, forcible blows on the head and neck with his fists 12 or 15 times. While being beaten, defendant kept asking Williams what was the matter and why he was beating him. Irvin Williams, brother of the deceased, stood by and prevented interference. Later on, Irvin told Earl to let the defendant up. When defendant got up he asked deceased, "Earl, why did you do this?" Deceased replied, "Don't talk to me; I will give you some more of it," and called defendant

252 S.W. 715

vile names. Defendant said, "I just wanted to know." Deceased then struck defendant, threw him down again, and struck him on the back of the head with his fists 10, 15, or 20 times. Irvin Williams then again interfered, and defendant got up and started or staggered towards the washhouse, muttering something. Earl ran towards defendant and asked him what he said. Defendant caught him by his wrists, saying, "Go away now and leave me alone," then turned to the crowd and said, "Now, boys, you heard me tell him to go away and let me alone." Irvin Williams again told deceased to let Connor alone.

Defendant struck no blows and made no demonstrations. When he got up the second time he had an unnatural color and appeared to be blinded. Some of the witnesses testified he looked angry. A witness for defendant testified that defendant said he wished he had a gun. He went to the washhouse and, without washing, as the miners usually did, came out immediately with his clean clothes under his arm. A Mr. Winkler picked up defendant's dinner bucket and lamp and offered them to defendant, but he paid no attention, but "was glaring around looking wild like he wasn't paying any attention to any one." Winkler spoke to defendant two or three times before he took the bucket and lamp and "all that time he was staring." Will Brown testified that defendant then said to some one, "Tell Joe (meaning Joe Brown) I have got his car and I will bring it back to him"; that defendant threw his clothes in the car, cranked it up, and started; that witness then went to the barn where Williams was and told him that he (defendant) "had took Joe Brown's car and gone with it, and I believed he had an intention of coming back and advised him to go back the other road," and Earl says, "No, I would not back an inch from that s— of a b_____," and he got on his horse and his brother got on behind him and he started home. Defendant drove to his home in Jacksonville. He and his wife occupied three rooms in the house of Mrs. Bean. He told Mrs. Bean there were some ducks and he wanted to get the gun. He got the gun and Mrs. Bean saw him drive off in the car very rapidly. He proceeded about half a mile, "driving reckless," until he met Earl Williams and several others in the public road, stopped the car, and got out with the gun in his hands. Tears were in his eyes; he looked like a man half crying. Earl and Irvin Williams got off the horse they were riding. A number of those present tried to reason with defendant, urging him not to shoot Earl; but be threatened to shoot them and stood them off with his gun. Earl pleaded with defendant, telling him repeatedly that he (defendant) had given him a dirty deal. "I done it fair with my fists; X didn't go and get no gun." Defendant said to Earl, "X don't give a damn if I die and go to hell; I'm going to kill you." Earl mounted his horse, and, as he did so, defendant shot him in the face, inflicting mortal wounds. Earl fell to the ground and died the following day.

After shooting Williams, defendant got in the car and went back to his home in Jacksonville. He said to his wife and Mrs. Bean that he had shot a man. Mrs. Bean and defendant's wife found bumps on the front part of defendant's head, a cut on the right side of his face, a knot above his right eye, knots on the back of his head, and a big one at the base of the brain, "soft, mushy kind of jelly." His nose was bleeding, he spit up blood, and blood oozed from his ears. Medical experts testified there were indications that there was a fracture at the base of the skull. Mrs. Bean testified that when defendant came home he looked "awfully wild; his eyes were large and staring;" that he looked like a wild man; didn't look like himself at all; that when he came in the room he took off one shoe and then proceeded to undress and take off his trousers, and she left the room; that this was something unusual for him; that he was a perfect gentleman and never attempted anything like that in her presence before. Others testified that defendant looked like a wild man and that his conduct was unusual.

The defendant was 24 years old at the time of the trial. There was evidence that when defendant was 6 or 7 years of age he had epileptic convulsions for about 4 or 5 weeks. After that, until he grew to manhood, he suffered from "night terrors, or screaming-out spells," termed physic epilepsy by medical experts; that is, convulsive attacks which involved the mind area. It was shown by uncontradieted, evidence that one night in July prior to the homicide, while defendant and others were camping out on the river, the defendant suffered a convulsive attack that aroused and alarmed the party. A medical expert testified that a traumatic injury to an epileptic brain is always serious because of the fact that the man has a diseased brain, an unstable brain being easily put out of gear. "A man with a normal brain who has not had any damage to his brain may stand a good deal of injury because of having a good strong brain or strong material to work on and not do him so much damage." It was shown that a blow that would produce a fracture at the base of the skull might cause a contusion or confusion of ideas—a disturbance of the brain cells.

A medical expert testified:

"The brain, inclosed as it is in a bony wall, fills the space. A blow striking that wall, * * * the brain tissue receives the force of that blow and it gives an injury to the brain tissue very much as if you get hit and get a black eye; it produces contusion of the tissue

252 S.W. 716

and gets a black eye. * * * Swelling will follow and confusion of the fluid will follow, causing the brain to increase in volume and causing brain pressure, making the brain so it is not able to perform its natural functions. * * * The man is stunned, he is obtused, and the stunned brain does not act properly; he can't think right; he loses his personal consciousness because his ideas don't work right. He may know people about him, but he cannot interpret things right. * * * We call that a confused mind, classed as confusional insanity, * * * and whenever that happens he gets delusions because the delusions are part of his wrong thoughts, and following that we get a delirious activity and we get hallucinations; so we will have both delusions and hallucinations and they predominate him in his acts—what he says and does—a delirious form of mind confusion."

It was also testified that under the circumstances bleeding from the ears and nose indicated a fracture somewhere in the base of the skull. There is no other condition we know of that would cause blood to come out into the canal of the car through the internal car unless it comes down from inside the cranial cavity.

Da answer to hypothetical questions, the medical experts for the defense testified that in their opinion the defendant was under a delusion caused by traumatism; causing a disarrangement of the brain cells from which, temporarily, his mind was laboring under a delusion; and that he was of unsound mind at the time of the homicide and did not know right from wrong. This condition might continue for a few minutes, hours, or even days. On the other hand, a medical expert for the state, testifying hypothetically, was of the opinion that the defendant was sane at the time of the homicide and that the acts under the circumstances detailed are what a normal man might do under the influence of excitement, passion, and temper to get even with some one who had been after him and trying to get the best of him.

Riley, the deputy sheriff who arrested defendant on the evening of the homicide and took him and his wife to Moberly, testified that defendant paid little attention to him; that defendant's wife talked to defendant; that he appeared stupid and would answer, "Yes," or, "No," and sometimes he heard a groan out of him; that when he locked defendant in the jail he looked silly.

1. The appellant, in his motion for new trial, complains that three of the jurors on the panel that sat on the trial of the cause and who on their voir dire examinations...

To continue reading

Request your trial
41 practice notes
  • State v. Williams, No. 33996.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 18, 1935
    ...and in failing to reprimand the prosecuting attorney, at the request of the defendant. State v. Goodwin, 217 S.W. 264; State v. Connor, 252 S.W. 713; State v. Webb, 162 S.W. 622, 254 Mo. 414; State v. Thompson, 238 S.W. 115; State v. Hess, 144 S.W. 489, 240 Mo. 147; State v. Clapper, 102 S.......
  • State v. Taylor, No. 28742.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 21, 1928
    ...265 Mo. 408, 178 S.W. 65; State v. Wellman, 253 Mo. 302, 161 S.W. 795; State v. Davis (Mo.), 190 S.W. 297; State v. Connor (Mo.), 252 S.W. 713.] "Surely it is better that justice travel with leaden foot, rather than that she walk rough-shod over the constitutional rights of citizens to be e......
  • Krucheck v. State, No. 83-35
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 20, 1983
    ...People v. Wax, 75 Ill.App.2d 163, 220 N.E.2d 600 (1966), cert. denied 387 U.S. 930, 87 S.Ct. 2051, 18 L.Ed.2d 991; State v. Connor, Mo., 252 S.W. 713 (1923); 40 C.J.S. Homicide § 53; 40 Am.Jur.2d, Homicide, § 57. There is no Wyoming Pattern Jury Instruction, Criminal, covering this No error......
  • State v. White, No. 7681
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • April 18, 1958
    ...512, 74 S.W. 612. See, also, State v. Tiedt, 357 Mo. 115, 206 S.W.2d 524; State v. Dixon, Mo., 253 S.W. 746, 748; State v. Connor, Mo., 252 S.W. 713, 720-722. But, in our view of the case at bar, there is no basis for application of that doctrine. In the first place, no such point has been ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
41 cases
  • State v. Williams, No. 33996.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 18, 1935
    ...and in failing to reprimand the prosecuting attorney, at the request of the defendant. State v. Goodwin, 217 S.W. 264; State v. Connor, 252 S.W. 713; State v. Webb, 162 S.W. 622, 254 Mo. 414; State v. Thompson, 238 S.W. 115; State v. Hess, 144 S.W. 489, 240 Mo. 147; State v. Clapper, 102 S.......
  • State v. Taylor, No. 28742.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 21, 1928
    ...265 Mo. 408, 178 S.W. 65; State v. Wellman, 253 Mo. 302, 161 S.W. 795; State v. Davis (Mo.), 190 S.W. 297; State v. Connor (Mo.), 252 S.W. 713.] "Surely it is better that justice travel with leaden foot, rather than that she walk rough-shod over the constitutional rights of citizens to be e......
  • Krucheck v. State, No. 83-35
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 20, 1983
    ...People v. Wax, 75 Ill.App.2d 163, 220 N.E.2d 600 (1966), cert. denied 387 U.S. 930, 87 S.Ct. 2051, 18 L.Ed.2d 991; State v. Connor, Mo., 252 S.W. 713 (1923); 40 C.J.S. Homicide § 53; 40 Am.Jur.2d, Homicide, § 57. There is no Wyoming Pattern Jury Instruction, Criminal, covering this No error......
  • State v. White, No. 7681
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • April 18, 1958
    ...512, 74 S.W. 612. See, also, State v. Tiedt, 357 Mo. 115, 206 S.W.2d 524; State v. Dixon, Mo., 253 S.W. 746, 748; State v. Connor, Mo., 252 S.W. 713, 720-722. But, in our view of the case at bar, there is no basis for application of that doctrine. In the first place, no such point has been ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT