State v. Gebhart, No. 51578

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtTHOMPSON; All Justices concur, except HAYS
Citation134 N.W.2d 906,257 Iowa 843
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. William GEBHART, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 51578
Decision Date04 May 1965

Page 906

134 N.W.2d 906
257 Iowa 843
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
William GEBHART, Appellant.
No. 51578.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
May 4, 1965.

[257 Iowa 845] Mead & Scieszinski, Wilton Junction, for appellant.

Page 907

Lawrence F. Scalise, Atty. Gen., of Iowa, Don R. Bennett, Asst. Atty. Gen., Garry D. Woodward, Sp. Asst. County Atty., and Harvey G. Allbee, Jr., Muscatine County Atty., for appellee.

THOMPSON, Justice.

The poet who wrote 'Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be' surely did not have the defendant in the instant case in mind. At 91, an age when the few who get that far are thought to have reached a time of peace and wisdom, he was accused of the wrongful killing of his wife, Sarah Gebhart, and her sister, Anna Yarbough. Each woman was killed by several gunshot wounds; and since there was no one present at the time of the killings except the two victims and the defendant, and he admitted the shootings immediately afterwards, the impression arises that he had somewhat to do with them. His substantial defense, not material to the questions raised on this appeal, was that he killed in self-defense.

This appeal is concerned with the conviction of the defendant on the plea of guilty of the crime of manslaughter in the killing of Sarah Gebhart. As we understand them, the contentions are two;--first, that although he had been held to the grand jury on March 31, 1964, after hearing on preliminary information, he was not indicted within thirty days thereafter, and so was entitled to his discharge under section 795.1 of the code of 1962, as amended by chapter 332, § 1 of the acts of the 60th General Assembly, I.C.A.; and second, that the dismissal of the charge first filed, on which he was held to the grand jury, was a final and complete dismissal of the charge and precluded the state from any further prosecution. A discussion of these necessitates a statement of the procedures involved.

The offense was alleged to have been committed on March 26, 1964. On March 27 next a preliminary information charging the defendant with the murder of Sarah Gebhart was filed in justice court. On March 31, after hearing, he was held to await the action of the Muscatine County grand jury at its next session. On April 30 the then presiding judge, Honorable M. L. [257 Iowa 846] Sutton, held an informal hearing at which he called the attention of the state and the defendant to section 795.1, as amended, supra. This was the thirtieth day after the defendant had been held. No indictment or county attorney's information had been then filed. On May 1 next a true information was filed by the county attorney, charging the defendant with the crime of murder. This information was approved by the court, and ordered filed. At the same time the first information was dismissed on motion of the state. On May 12 the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information of the grounds that it was filed more than thirty days after he had been held on the first charge, contrary to section 795.1; and because the original charge had been dismissed. This motion was denied by the court on May 23. On June 20 next the court likewise denied a demurrer filed by the defendant which also raised the question of the true information being filed more than thirty days after the defendant had been held to the grand jury under the original charge. On August 3 the defendant entered his plea of guilty to the included offense of manslaughter, which plea was accepted by the court, and sentence was imposed in accordance with the statute. This was apparently after the defendant had been tried on the charge of murdering Anna Yarbough, with a jury verdict therein of guilty of manslaughter. At all times material the defendant was represented by the same counsel who appear for him in this court. The sentence in each case was that the defendant be confined in the penitentiary for a term not exceeding eight years, and pay a fine of $500.00, all as provided by section 690.10.

I. It is essential to set out section 795.1 as it now appears in the law. 795.1: 'When a person is held to answer for a public offense, if an indictment be not found against him at the next regular term of the court at which he is held to answer

Page 908

or within thirty days, whichever first occurs, the court must order the prosecution to be dismissed, unless good cause to the contrary be shown. An accused not admitted to bail and unrepresented by legal counsel shall not be deemed to have waived his privilege of dismissal or be held to make demand or request to enforce a guarantee of speedy trial, and the court on its own motion shall carry out the provisions of this Act as to dismissal.' The italicized[257 Iowa 847] parts are so marked to show the additions to the statute made by the 60th General Assembly.

It is the contention of the defendant that since he was held to answer for an indictable offense, and no indictment was returned against him within thirty days, he is entitled to be discharged; that the state has lost its right to prosecute him for the offense charged in the true information and the court had no jurisdiction to approve the information or to permit any further proceedings to be had. We are slow to believe that the legislature, in enacting the statute, intended to exonerate an offender from the consequences of his crime because of a failure of the prosecution to proceed against him within the time limited....

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16 practice notes
  • Powers v. Hatcher, No. 51643
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 4, 1965
    ...Wisconsin, 222 Minn. 474, 25 N.W.2d 659. Nor is the manner in which the accident happened obscure as in Schmidt v. Hayden, 205 Iowa 1369, [257 Iowa 843] 1372-1374, 219 N.W. 399, and in McCready v. United Iron and Steel Company, 272 F.2d 700, 703 (10th Cir. 1959), where no one saw the accide......
  • State v. Allnutt, No. 52063
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 6, 1968
    ...should have been sustained. Section 795.2, Code of Iowa, implements Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution of Iowa. State v. Gebhart, 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 908. Defendant's right to a speedy trial is also guaranteed by Amendment 6 to the Constitution of the United States, w......
  • State v. Williams, No. 14-0793
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 25, 2017
    ...trial guaranteed under the United States and Iowa Constitutions. U.S. Const. amend. VI ; Iowa Const. art. I, § 10 ; see State v. Gebhart , 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 908 (1965), overruled on other grounds by State v. Johnson , 217 N.W.2d 609, 612 (Iowa 1974), and State v. Gorham , 2......
  • State v. Deases, No. 90-414
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • June 25, 1991
    ...rules are for the protection of the rights of an accused by implementing constitutional guarantees of a speedy trial. State v. Gebhart, 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 909 (1965). These rules, while meant to shield the defendant from unjust delays, are not intended to be a device by whic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Powers v. Hatcher, No. 51643
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 4, 1965
    ...Wisconsin, 222 Minn. 474, 25 N.W.2d 659. Nor is the manner in which the accident happened obscure as in Schmidt v. Hayden, 205 Iowa 1369, [257 Iowa 843] 1372-1374, 219 N.W. 399, and in McCready v. United Iron and Steel Company, 272 F.2d 700, 703 (10th Cir. 1959), where no one saw the accide......
  • State v. Allnutt, No. 52063
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 6, 1968
    ...should have been sustained. Section 795.2, Code of Iowa, implements Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution of Iowa. State v. Gebhart, 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 908. Defendant's right to a speedy trial is also guaranteed by Amendment 6 to the Constitution of the United States, w......
  • State v. Williams, No. 14-0793
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 25, 2017
    ...trial guaranteed under the United States and Iowa Constitutions. U.S. Const. amend. VI ; Iowa Const. art. I, § 10 ; see State v. Gebhart , 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 908 (1965), overruled on other grounds by State v. Johnson , 217 N.W.2d 609, 612 (Iowa 1974), and State v. Gorham , 2......
  • State v. Deases, No. 90-414
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • June 25, 1991
    ...rules are for the protection of the rights of an accused by implementing constitutional guarantees of a speedy trial. State v. Gebhart, 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 909 (1965). These rules, while meant to shield the defendant from unjust delays, are not intended to be a device by whic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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