State v. Demag, 1266

Decision Date05 October 1954
Docket NumberNo. 1266,1266
PartiesSTATE of Vermont v. Donald DEMAG.
CourtVermont Supreme Court

F. Elliott Barber, Jr., Atty. Gen., Lewis E. Springer, Jr., State's Atty., White River Jct., Frederick M. Reed, Montpelier, of counsel, for plaintiff.

Joseph S. Wool, Burlington, for defendant.

Before SHERBURNE, C. J., JEFFORDS, CLEARY and ADAMS, JJ., and SYLVESTER, Superior Judge.

CLEARY, Justice.

This case is here on exceptions of the respondent following his trial by jury in the Windsor county court where he was convicted of murder in the first degree. The victim was Elizabeth Weatherup. A companion case, previously tried, is State v. Blair, 118 Vt. 81, 99 A.2d 677.

The respondent excepted to the exclusion by the trial court of a certified copy of the transcript of a proceeding which occurred while the case of State v. Donald Demag was being considered at the March 1948 term of the Chittenden county court. At that time the respondent had been indicted for the first degree murder of one Francis Racicot and, on arraignment, pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree. The matter being considered was whether the court should accept that plea. Both the attorney general and counsel for the respondent reviewed the respondent's history at considerable length and requested the court to accept the plea. At the trial of the case now being considered the respondent offered the entire transcript of this former proceeding and, when asked by the court the purpose of the offer, stated that the offer was made on the ground that the transcript was a judicial admission against the State and might constitute the basis of a verdict in the case then being tried. The offer was of the entire transcript and included statements of his own counsel in his behalf. Much of it was hearsay and self serving. The inclusion of this inadmissible matter rendered the exclusion of the whole offer proper. Ravine House Co. v. Bradstreet, 102 Vt. 370, 375, 148 A. 481; Turgeon v. Baker, 105 Vt. 61, 63, 163 A. 588. The exception is of no avail.

At the close of the State's case in chief the respondent moved for a directed verdict because the State had failed to prove that the respondent had broken and entered the Weatherup home with the intent to commit felonious larceny. He waived his exception by proceeding with his case after the denial of his motion. Croteau v. Allbee, 117 Vt. 332, 334, 91 A.2d 803; Frederick v. Gay's Express, 111 Vt. 411, 413, 17 A.2d 248; Parrow v. Proulx, 111 Vt. 274, 281, 15 A.2d 835; Gregoire v. Willett, 110 Vt. 459, 461, 8 A.2d 660. At the close of all the evidence the respondent made another motion for a directed verdict on three separate grounds. He now briefs his first motion made at the close of the State's case in chief and also briefs the failure of the court to charge that the State, in order to prove that the respondent had committed burglary, had to prove that the respondent broke and entered the dwelling house with the intent to commit felonious larceny. But the record does not show that the respondent renewed his first motion for a verdict or included the ground of failure to prove intent to commit felonious larceny in his final motion for a directed verdict, or requested the court to charge on the subject or excepted to the failure of the court to so charge.

The trial court cannot be put in error on a point not made below. Campbell v. Howard National Bank, 118 Vt. 182, 188, 103 A.2d 96; State v. Hilliker, 117 Vt. 569, 571, 97 A.2d 119; Winegar v. Estate of Aubin, 117 Vt. 440, 441, 94 A.2d 240; Croteau v. Allbee, 117 Vt. 332, 335, 91 A.2d 803; Bonneau v. Russell, 117 Vt. 134, 136, 85 A.2d 569; Morrill v. Boardman, 117 Vt. 103, 108, 86 A.2d 146; State v. Lindsay, 110 Vt. 120, 123, 2 A.2d 201.

Moreover, the claim has no merit even if the question had been properly saved below. It has long been settled law in this State that proof of a breaking and entering with intent to commit any larceny is sufficient to convict a respondent of burglary. State v. Keyser, 56 Vt. 622, 623-624; State v. Hodgdon, 89 Vt. 148, 151, 94 A. 301. The respondent admits that we would have to overruled these cases in order to sustain his position. We refuse to do so. It is a matter of common knowledge that nearly all offenses against the law of burglary are committed with intent to steal; and, in nearly all cases, except when the defendant is caught with the goods, the extent of the larceny which he intended to commit cannot be proved. Therefore, if the State should be required to prove a specific intent to commit grand larceny it would be, in most cases, impossible to procure convictions, however guilty the accused might be. We think the term 'or other felony', as used in V.S.1947, § 8300 which lists offenses constituting burglary, is not a limitation on what procedes, but is inserted to extend the scope of the section to other offenses not specifically named therein. See State v. Hows, 31 Utah 168, 87 P. 163; Hall v. State, 48 Wis. 688, 4 N.W. 1068.

The respondent excepted to the failure of the court to charge in accordance with the respondent's request that 'All persons charged with crime and brought to trial are presumed by law to be innocent until proved guilty, and the law presumes this respondent to be innocent until the contrary shall have been established.' The respondent does not dispute but agrees, in accordance with Tyrrell v. Prudential Insurance Co., 109 Vt. 6, 192 A. 184, 115 A.L.R. 392, that in this State the presumption of innocence is not evidence. His contention is that in a criminal case the trial court is required to charge the jury that the respondent is presumed to be innocent until the contrary is established, that is, until the State has proved him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

There is great conflict on this point in decisions of various courts both state and federal but it is unnecessary to go outside of the cases arising in Vermont. The respondent cites State v. McDonnell, 32 Vt. 491, 538; State v. Patterson, 45 Vt. 308, 314; State v. Costa, 78 Vt. 198, 204, 62 A. 38; and State v. Shaw, 89 Vt. 121, 131, 94 A. 434, L.R.A.1915F, 1087. These decisions were all previous to the Tyrrell case where our present rule was adopted that the presumption of innocence, of itself alone, contributes no evidence and has no probative value. In that case at page 25 of 109 Vt., at page 193 of 192 A. our court said, 'Anything and everything in our cases to the contrary of the rule herein adopted as to presumptions is hereafter to be disregarded.'

State v. Lizotte, 109 Vt. 378, 387-388, 197 A. 396 is squarely and exactly in point. There the court refused to instruct the jury, in accordance with requests almost identical with the request here. The decision repeats the rule adopted in the Tyrrell case. The Lizotte case then holds that the function of a presumption is the same in a criminal as in a civil case and, since the presumption has no probative value, it is not for consideration by the jury and is not an appropriate subject upon which to charge the jury. State v. Demars, 118 Vt. 175, 177-178, 102 A.2d 845. Therefore the trial court was not required to charge the jury on the presumption of innocence. The instruction, which was fully given in this instance, that unless the respondent's guilt was proved beyond a reasonable doubt he was entitled to...

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8 cases
  • State v. Goyet
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 7, 1957 This motion was denied. He waived his exception by proceeding with his case after the denial of his motion. State v. Demag, 118 Vt. 273, 274, 108 A.2d 390. The motion was renewed at the close of the respondent's case. It was again denied and an exception allowed. At the close of all......
  • State v. Kasper
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • April 5, 1979
    ...rule of this Court that it will not, even in criminal cases, consider questions not raised in the court below." State v. Demag, 118 Vt. 273, 277, 108 A.2d 390, 393 (1954). We consider this principle "fundamental to the process of judicial review." State v. Murray, 123 Vt. 232, 233, 186 A.2d......
  • State v. Ball
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • October 2, 1956
    ...claim in the court below so cannot do so here. The trial court cannot be put in error on a point not made below. State v. Demag, 118 Vt. 273, 275, 277, 108 A.2d 390; State v. Wersebe, 107 Vt. 529, 534, 181 A. 299; State v. Storrs, 105 Vt. 180, 184, 163 A. 560; State v. Stacy, 104 Vt. 379, 4......
  • State v. Haskins, 1130
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 5, 1957
    ...of the trial. A charge is to be construed as a whole and not piecemeal. Ferris v. Patch, 119 Vt. 274, 278, 126 A. 2d 114; State v. Demag, 118 Vt. 273, 278, 108 A.2d 390. Furthermore, this Court in State v. Bean, 119 Vt. 184, 185-187, 122 A.2d 744, approved the charge as given here. No cogen......
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