State v. Huffman

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Citation238 S.W. 430
Docket NumberNo. 23047.,23047.
Decision Date18 February 1922

Appeal from Circuit Court, Adair County; James A. Cooley, Judge.

Rollie Huffman was convicted of robbery in the first degree, and he appeals. Affirmed.

On January 21, 1921, the grand jury of Adair county, Mo., returned into the circuit court of said county an indictment which, without caption and signatures, reads as follows:

"The grand jurors for the state of Missouri, impaneled, sworn and charged to inquire within and for the body of the county of Adair and state aforesaid, upon their oaths present and charge that the defendant, Rollie Huffman, at the county of Adair and state of Missouri, on January 12, 1921, did then and there in and upon one Joe Bertagni, unlawfully, willfully and feloniously make an assault and $1,050 of lawful money of the United States of America, the property of the said Joe Bertagni, from the person and against the will of the said Joe Bertagni, then and there being, by putting the said Joe Bertagni in fear of some immediate injury to his person, feloniously did rob, steal, take and carry away, against the peace and dignity of the state."

Defendant was arraigned on January 24, 1921, and entered his plea of not guilty. The case was tried before a jury on February 22, 1921, and the following verdict returned:

"We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of robbery in the first degree as charged, and assess his punishment at imprisonment in the Missouri State Penitentiary for a term of five

                years.            P. A. Oliver, Foreman."

In order that the theory of the state may be understood in dealing with the questions involved in this case, we have deemed it appropriate to refer to the voir dire examination of the jury. It appears from the record that the state objected to the competency of C. W. Mays to sit as a juror in this cause, on the ground that his wife was related to Leonard Floyd. In support of this objection, the following occurred as shown by the record:

"By Mr. Higbee: We offer in evidence the indictment in the case of state of Missouri v. Leonard Floyd, charging him with the same crime this defendant stands charged, and we will make the statement that the evidence will show a conspiracy between Leonard Floyd and the defendant in this case, a conspiracy to commit the crime of which the defendant stands charged.

"By Mr. Murrell: We object to the statement. The indictment itself shows no statement of anything of the kind.

"By Mr. Higbee: And an actual participation by the said Leonard Floyd in the commission of the crime for which the defendant stands charged and goes to trial in this case, that is what we expect to show by the evidence."

Over the objection of defendant, Mr. Mays was excused as a juror by the court. The indictment against Leonard Floyd is couched in substantially the same language as the one against defendant heretofore set out.

States Evidence.

Joseph Bertagni, an Italian about 26 years of age, lived about 4½ miles south of Novinger, in Adair county, aforesaid, and was engaged in coal mining. He testified in substance that he had lived there 6 years, and got acquainted with defendant in 1918; that in October or November, 1920, he (witness) went with defendant to Des Moines, Iowa, and bought, while there, two secondhand Buick automobiles; that said cars were brought to Novinger, and he authorized defendant to sell one of these cars for $1,100 to Leonard Floyd; that on the night of January 10, 1921, defendant, who had been driving said car for witness, took said Floyd and Bertagni out to try said car; that it was offered to Floyd for $1,100, but the latter said he wanted to examine the car in the daytime before buying it; that on Wednesday evening, January 12, 1921, defendant drove said car down to Tipperary for Bertagni, and took him to Novinger, where they met Floyd at about o'clock p. m. the same evening; that Floyd suggested they should take a car ride, and took the back seat in said car; that witness sat with defendant on the front seat; that defendant drove the car during the evening; that they went north by the schoolhouse, then went west on the Greencastle road; that when they got to Pennyroyal hill Floyd asked him how much he wanted for said car; that he asked $1,075 for the car; that Floyd said he could only give $1,000 for it; that he then said he would take $1,050, and no less, for the car; that they were at Pennyroyal hill when this occurred; that after they got close to the crossroad going to S. A. Novinger's house Floyd said, "Stop the car," he would take it at $1,050; that defendant then stopped the car on the crossroad, east of the bridge about 20 feet. Bertagni at this juncture further testified In substance that, when the car stopped, Floyd commenced counting the money which he had taken from his pocket, and defendant at that time left the car, and was gone 2 or 3 minutes; that Floyd counted out $1,050 in bills, and then asked witness to sign a receipt, which Floyd prepared; that witness gave Floyd the receipt, and Floyd handed him the $1,050, which he still had in his hands, when a man presented a gun at his head and said, "Give me that money," and took the money; that defendant came back into the car before the money was turned over to witness; that the light in the front of automobile was used to count the money; that witness was shown a gun, which belonged to defendant, and said it looked like the gun which was presented to him when the money was taken; that after the man got the money he made all three of the occupants of said automobile get out of same, and searched, their pockets; that the man who had the gun was wearing an army overcoat, and had a white handkerchief on his face; that he gave up the money because the man had a gun at his face, and he was scared; that he was afraid the man would shoot him; that the robber then told them to go on straight west, and rode a short distance on the running board, a distance of about 50 yards, and got off; that he, defendant, and Floyd then turned and came back to Novinger.

On cross-examination Bertagni testified in substance that he is usually referred to as "Piccolo"; that he worked in the mine; that the car which Floyd bought from him was a Buick Six, and he was paid $1,050 for same; that defendant had been driving this car, and had done considerable work on it; that defendant would frequently drive the car to Tipperary and bring him to Novinger; that Tipperary was about 4 miles from Novinger; that he was living at Tipperary at this time; that defendant was to get $62.50 for his share of the profit at Des Moines; that defendant said he did not want anything for the other work; that he saw Grimes once before the robbery, and told the grand jury he thought Grimes was the robber after looking at his picture; that he heard. Grimes' voice at the trial, and concluded he was not the robber; that the battery box of the Buick car was broken, sometimes called the battery hanger; that he told defendant he did not care to drive, and defendant then said he would drive; that he usually makes cash deals, but sometimes issues checks; that they were at the place where the robbery occurred about 10 minutes; that Floyd asked him on the road out there if this was a stolen car; that he told Floyd he had a receipt for the car in his pocket, and he delivered it to Floyd when the money was paid; that he gave Floyd a receipt which he and defendant both signed; that nothing was said about starting the car up before the robbery occurred; that the robber, after getting the money, stepped on the running board of the car with his gun, and told defendant to drive west; that after traveling west about 50 yards the robber got off, and witness did not see him any more; that after the robbery defendant said he was so nervous he could not drive, and wanted witness to drive; that he told defendant he was too scared to drive; witness said when they started back, "By God, no car, and by God, no money!" that he was sure he lost his money before he got out of the car; that Floyd went into a business house and telephoned the deputy sheriff after they got back; that he told defendant to ask Floyd if he would give him (witness) $200 or $300, and see what he would say; that he is a single man, and came to this country from Italy in 1915. Witness further testified that he had made frequent trips in his car, and would be gone several days: that he brought large quantities of whisky and beer with him, and sold it to the miners and other persons.

On redirect examination, witness said defendant and Floyd took him home after the robbery.

James Grimes, a witness for the state, testified in substance that he lived at Kirksville, Mo.; that he first got acquainted with defendant about the first of January, 1921. He testified as to what then occurred, as follows:

"Q. Just tell the exact conversation, as near as you can, that took place between Huffman (defendant) and you at this time? A. As I said there, he talked to me about holding up some `dago' or `hunk' he said, but first he wanted me to go after this whisky and hold him up on that. He said we could hold this fellow up and he would have $1,200 or $1,400 on him, and we would split the money.

"Q. What did he want you to do? A. He wanted me to do the holdup racket.

"Q. What did you tell him about it? A. I told him `Nothing stirring.' * * *

"Q. What did he say in reference to anything else? A. He said if we didn't pull that off after this switch engine for this `hunk' he would get a phony buyer for the car and we could stick him up on that.

"Q. What did he say to you he wanted you to do? A. He wanted me to do the holdup part.

"Q. Where did he say the holdup would take place? A. He didn't say where it would take place; he said it would be somewhere on the road where the road would be rough, and he would have to slow...

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28 cases
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    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 18, 1922
    ...... Eddy, 199 S.W. 187-8; State v. Massey, 274 Mo. 584-5, 204 S.W. 542;. [238 S.W. 110] . State v. Bater, 232 S.W. 1012; State v. De. Priest, 232 S.W. 84; State v. Brown, 234 S.W. 785; State v. Cantrell, 234 S.W. 801; State v. Lasson, 292 Mo. 155, 238 S.W. 101; State v. Huffman, 238 S.W. 430. . .          The. foregoing authorities are conclusive as to the sufficiency of. the information herein. . .           II. Defendant insists that Instruction Four, given by the court,. is erroneous, because it did not require the jury to find. that ......
  • State v. Pope, 34686.
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    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 21, 1936
    ...held sufficient in form and substance therefor. [State v. Yates (Mo.), 252 S.W. 641, 644(2), and cases cited; State v. Huffman (Mo.), 238 S.W. 430, [2] Appellant contends statements of the prosecuting attorney in his opening statement and evidence showing the existence of a conspiracy betwe......
  • State v. Craft
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    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
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  • State v. Scott
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    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
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