State v. Hall, 55845

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation214 N.W.2d 205,73 A.L.R.3d 85
Docket NumberNo. 55845,55845
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Allen Lee HALL, Appellant.
Decision Date16 January 1974

Page 205

214 N.W.2d 205
73 A.L.R.3d 85
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
Allen Lee HALL, Appellant.
No. 55845.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Jan. 16, 1974.
Rehearing Denied March 18, 1974.

Page 206

Korf, Diehl, Clayton & Cleverley, Newton, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., Fred M. Haskins, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Dennis F. Chalupa, Jasper County Atty., for appellee.

Considered En Banc.


The principal legal question in this appeal from a conviction of first-degree murder relates to the effect upon criminal responsibility of a mental condition resulting from voluntary ingestion of a drug. The principal factual dispute is whether defendant Allen Lee Hall did ingest a drug and if so, its effect upon him.

The fact is not disputed that defendant slew Gilford Eugene Meacham in a car at the time and place charged. Defendant left a fingerprint in the car and also an overnight bag containing his social security card. A few days later he turned himself in and voluntarily disclosed that he shot Meacham. At trial, defendant testified about his version of what happened. Much of the testimony was by defendant himself, as only he and Meacham were present at the occurrence.

The State's version is that the homicide was a cold-blooded murder by defendant in the course of robbing Meacham. Defendant was hitchhiking in the West, and Meacham offered him a ride from Oregon to Chicago, with defendant to drive. Defendant was then to split off and hitchhike to his home in North Carolina, while Meacham was to drive on to Connecticut to get married. According to the State, after defendant had passed Des Moines, Iowa, he shot Meacham in the head, robbed him of $208, dumped his body on a side road, drove on to Davenport, Iowa, took a bus from there to Chicago, Illinois, and then hitchhiked to the Southwest. The State relies on the rule that the jury could believe some parts and reject other parts of defendant's testimony. 88 C.J.S. Trial § 214 at 484--485 ('The jury are not required to believe everything said by any witness; they may accept that which they believe to be true and reject that which they believe to be untrue').

Defendant's version is more extensive. According to him, he grew up in North Carolina, his father abandoned the family penniless when defendant was small, defendant's stepfather later shot defendant's dog when it was frothing at the mouth with rabies, leaving an indelible impression on defendant, defendant subsequently dropped out of school but eventually obtained a high school equivalency certificate, he served in the army but was discharged as undesirable, at one time he drove a car in Utah without the owner's consent and was convicted and sentenced to ten years, and at another time he was convicted of a federal offense for which he received five years probation that he violated by leaving North Carolina on the present occasion. He testified that he was married but had no children, worked in a factory in North Carolina, lived with his wife in that State, and on this occasion had left to hitchhike through the West.

Regarding the incident involved here, defendant testified that casual acquaintances in California gave him a pill and told him it was a 'little sunshine' and would make him feel 'groovy.' He met Meacham in Oregon and they made the arrangement for the trip east. Meacham had a pistol. Defendant drove all the way to Iowa without rest and was exhausted. He testified he took the pill at Des Moines, it made him feel funny, and the road turned different colors and pulsated. Meacham was sleeping on the passenger side. Defendant testified he heard strange noises from Meacham's throat, like growling. Meacham's face grew and his nose got long, and his head turned into a dog like the one defendant's stepfather had shot. Defendant testified he got scared, picked up Meacham's gun, and shot him three times.

Defendant stated he did not remember much that happened for awhile. The next

Page 207

he clearly remembered anything he was in a cemetery at What Cheer, Iowa. He testified he had periods thinking Meacham was human and periods thinking Meacham was a dog. He drove back to the highway and traveled awhile, then turned off on a sideroad and removed Meacham's body from the car.

Defendant testified further he drove to What Cheer and tried there to wipe the blood from his hands. He then returned to see if Meacham was alive, kicked something in the road, saw it was Meacham's billfold, and took it. He removed the money from the billfold, discarded the billfold itself, and later used some of the money and threw away some of it. He also threw away the gun.

Defendant testified he drove to Davenport, abandoned the car, took a bus to Chicago, hitchhiked through the Southwest, and turned himself in to officials in the State of Nevada. He voluntarily told officers about the incident, although in his original version he did not say anything about the claimed pill or its aftermath.

The County Attorney of Jasper County, Iowa, charged defendant with murder. A separate trial was held on the question of defendant's sanity to stand trial. A jury found him sane. Defendant pleaded insanity at the time of the act and stood trial on the murder charge; a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. After the trial court overruled defendant's motion for new trial and sentenced him, he appealed.

In this court defendant presses four principal contentions. First, the trial court should have instructed the jury that defendant's drug intoxication, if proved, required an acquittal. Second, the trial court erred in instructing that defendant's druginduced intoxication, if established, could not reduce the offense below murder. Third, the court erred in other instructions. And fourth, the record does not contain substantial evidence of first-degree murder.

I. Drug Intoxication as Complete Defense. The case is different from the usual one in which the accused contends only that use of alcohol or other drugs prevented him from forming specific intent. Here defendant first contends the drug caused temporary insanity, which constitutes a complete defense. Defendant is right that insanity, if established, is a complete defense. Under our law the test of insanity is 'whether defendant had capacity to know the nature and quality of his acts and (the) distinction between right and wrong.' State v. Harkness, 160 N.W.2d 324, 334 (Iowa). In addition to himself as a witness, defendant introduced testimony by two physicians who opined the drug was LSD and answered hypothetical questions about defendant's mental condition. By himself and those witnesses, defendant adduced substantial evidence which would meet the Harkness test in an ordinary case of an insanity defense. This evidence assumed the truth of defendant's testimony that he ingested the drug and sustained hallucinations as a result.

Defendant requested an instruction on insanity as a complete defense, tailored to include temporary insanity induced by drugs. The trial court refused it, and instructed that the jury should consider the claimed mental condition in connection with intent, as reducing the offense but not as exonerating it.

This court has held that a temporary mental condition caused by voluntary intoxication from alcohol does not constitute a complete defense. State v. Booth, 169 N.W.2d 869 (Iowa); State v. Johnson, 215 Iowa 483, 245 N.W. 728. Is the rule the same when the mental condition results from voluntary ingestion of other drugs? We think so, and the cases so hold. Commonwealth v. Campbell, 445 Pa. 488, 495, 284 A.2d 798, 801 ('there should be no legal distinction between the voluntary use of drugs and the voluntary use of alcohol in determining criminal responsibility'); People v. Corson, 221 Cal.App.2d 579, 34

Page 208

Cal.Rptr. 584; DeBerry v. Commonwealth, 289 S.W.2d 495 (Ky.); State v. Bellue, 194 S.E.2d 193 (S.C.). See State v. Christie, 243 Iowa 1199, 53 N.W.2d 887, on reh. 54 N.W.2d 927 (alcohol and phenobarbital); State v. Church, 169 N.W.2d 889 (Iowa) (glue sniffing); State v. Clark, 187 N.W.2d 717 (Iowa) (tranquilizer).

Defendant does not contend that extended use of drugs caused him 'settled or established' insanity. See State v. Booth, supra, 169 N.W.2d at 873. He does argue that he did not take the pill voluntarily. See State v. Christie, 243 Iowa 1199, 53 N.W.2d 887. But assuming he did take a drug, according to his own testimony no one tricked him into taking it or forced him to do so. Such is the language of defendant's own citations involving involuntary intoxication. People v. Nichol, 34 Cal. 211, 215 ('fraud, contrivance, or force of some other person'); McCook v. State, 91 Ga. 740, 17 S.E. 1019 (same); Bartholomew v. People, 104 Ill. 601, 606 (same); Choate v. State, 19 Okl.Cr. 169, 177, 197 P. 1060, 1063 ('fraud or artifice'); 22 C.J.S. Criminal Law § 69 at 220--221 ('being compelled to drink against his will, or through another's fraud or strategem'--'fraud or duress'); Annot. 30 A.L.R. 761, 764 ('by strategem, or the fraud of another'). Defendant did not take the pill by mistake--thinking, for example, it was candy. If his own testimony is believed, he knew it was a mind-affecting drug. See Bennett v. State, 161 Ark. 496, 257 S.W. 372 (no excuse that whisky had different effect than accused anticipated, if he knew it was whisky); Commonwealth v. Campbell, supra, 445 Pa. at 495, 284 A.2d at 801 (LSD--'nonpredictability of effect on the human body is devoid of any adequate legal justification based upon legal precedent, or reason, or policy considerations for a radical change and departure from our law of criminal responsibility').

We hold that the trial court properly refused the requested instruction.

II. Instruction on Legal Effect of Mental Condition. Defendant's next contention takes us another step into the legal effect of voluntary use of drugs. The trial court submitted to the jury forms of verdict for both...

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