State v. Jacobs, No. 17777

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtMOSS; TAYLOR
Citation119 S.E.2d 735,238 S.C. 234
PartiesSTATE, Respondent, v. Thomas D. JACOBS, William T. Hill and Jobie Shelton, of whom Jobie Shelton is, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 17777
Decision Date08 May 1961

Page 735

119 S.E.2d 735
238 S.C. 234
STATE, Respondent,
v.
Thomas D. JACOBS, William T. Hill and Jobie Shelton, of whom
Jobie Shelton is, Appellant.
No. 17777.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
May 8, 1961.

Marshall W. Abercrombie, Laurens, for appellant.

[238 S.C. 235] William T. Jones, Solicitor, Greenwood, for respondent.

MOSS, Justice.

Thomas D. Jacobs, William T. Hill and Jobie Shelton were indicted by the Grand Jury of Laurens County, South Carolina, and charged with willfully and unlawfully entering into an agreement, confederation and conspiracy to seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct and carry away Robert M. Vance, Jr., and to hold him for ransom and reward, and did do overt acts towards carrying out such unlawful agreement, confederation and conspiracy. The indictment also alleged that none of the defendants were a parent of the said Robert M. Vance, Jr. All of the defendants were arraigned at the 1957 term of the Court of General Sessions for said Laurens County. Each of the defendants entered a plea of not guilty. They were tried and found guilty as charged and the jury recommended mercy. All of the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment. This Court

Page 736

is advised that Thomas D. Jacobs and William T. Hill have died since conviction and sentence. Therefore, Jobie Shelton is the only appellant. At appropriate stages of the trial, the appellant made a motion for a directed verdict upon grounds that will be hereinafter discussed. After the rendition of the verdict of guilty, the appellant made a motion for a new trial. All of these motions were refused.

Section 16-91 of the 1952 Code of Laws of South Carolina, provides:

'Whoever shall unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct or carry away any other person by any means [238 S.C. 236] whatsoever and hold such person for ransom or reward, except when a minor is seized or taken by a parent thereof, shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall suffer the punishment of death; provided, however, that when any such person is found guilty of such felony the jury may find a special verdict recommending him or her to the mercy of the court, whereupon the punishment shall be reduced to imprisonment in the penitentiary with hard labor during the whole lifetime of the convicted person; provided, further, that notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section with respect to the punishment of death, if the kidnapped person be released and returned alive prior to the opening of the trial, the death penalty shall not be imposed and the convicted person shall be punished by imprisonment in the same manner as though the jury had recommended him to the mercy of the court.'

Section 16-92 of the Code, provides:

'If two or more persons enter into an agreement, confederation or conspiracy to violate the provisions of § 16-91 and any of such persons do any overt act towards carrying out such unlawful agreement, confederation or conspiracy each such person shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, shall be punished in like manner as provided for the violation of § 16-91.'

Section 16-550 of the 1959 cumulative supplement to the 1952 Code of Laws, defines a conspiracy as follows:

'The crime known to the common law as conspiracy is hereby defined as a combination between two or more persons for the purpose of accomplishing a criminal or unlawful object, or an object neither criminal nor unlawful by criminal or unlawful means.'

The foregoing statute defining conspiracy confirms a definition thereof as is contained in State v. Ameker, 73 S.C. 330, 53 S.E. 484; State v. Davis, 88 S.C. 229, 70 S.E. 811, 34 L.R.A.,N.S., 295; and State v. Hightower, 221 S.C. 91, 69 S.E.2d 363, 369. In the last cited case, this Court said:

[238 S.C. 237] 'The generally recognized rule is that the fact of a conspiracy may be proved by any relevant competent evidence, having a legitimate tendency to support the accusation. The conspiracy may be shown, of course, not only by direct evidence, but by circumstantial evidence, or by both. And in a case of this kind, in the reception of circumstantial evidence, great latitude must be allowed. State v. Shipman, 202 N.C. 518, 163 S.E. 657; 15 C.J.S., Conspiracy, § 92b, p. 1141. Here, we have not only circumstantial evidence, but direct evidence going to prove appellant's guilt.

'Conspiracies may and generally must be proved by a number of indefinite circumstances which vary according to the objects to be accomplished. Any circumstance or act standing alone might have little weight, but, taken collectively, they point unerringly to the existence of the conspiracy. Bloomer v. State, 48 Md. 521. And as stated by the Court in State v. Anderson, 208 N.C. 771, 182 S.E. 643, 652: 'When resorted to by adroit and crafty persons, the presence of a common design

Page 737

often becomes exceedingly difficult to detect. Indeed, the more skillful and cunning the accused, the less plainly defined are the badges which usually denote their real purpose.' And see Annotation, Vol. 3 Am.St.Rep., Page 482.'

In State v. Quick, 199 S.C. 256, 19 S.E.2d 101, 102, the general rule was stated that the law does not concern itself with mere guilty intention unconnected with any overt act; that no definite rule as to what constitutes an overt act can safely be shown, each case being dependent on its own particular facts. The Court further said: 'It is well settled that the 'act' is to be liberally construed, and in numerous cases it is said to be sufficient that the act go far enough toward accomplishment of the crime to amount to the commencement of its consummation.'

The appellant asserts that the evidence in this case is insufficient to sustain his conviction of conspiracy to kidnap. He asserts that the trial Judge should have directed a verdict [238 S.C. 238] of not guilty and, failing in that, should have granted his motion for a new trial.

The evidence is susceptible to the conclusion that Thomas D. Jacobs came to the home of one Lewis A. Young at about 11:30 p. m. on February 14, 1957, and proposed to the said Lewis A. Young the making of some easy money by kidnapping a boy four or five years old. It appears that Jacobs stayed in the home of Young until sometime on the afternoon of February 15, 1957. After Jacobs left, Young had one Watts Davis, a groceryman living in the community, to telephone the sheriff of Laurens County. Thereafter, Young was contacted by the sheriff and the chief of police of the town of Clinton. They were told of the statement made by Jacobs to Young. After this incident, Young was talked to by many law enforcement officers and he was advised to keep the officers notified of any developments towards the carrying into effect of the intention stated by Jacobs to kidnap a young boy. Jacobs again contacted Young on March 4, 1957 and talked with him concerning the kidnapping, but did not reveal the name of the intended victim. Young saw Jacobs the next day at his office in Clinton, at which time Jacobs said they could kidnap the child and get One Hundred Thousand ($100,000) Dollars as ransom. Young told Jacobs he didn't believe he could get by with his intended plan. This witness testified that he went with Jacobs to the place where he intended to take the child after kidnapping him, and there hold him until the ransom money was paid. This place was in the Musgrove Mill section of Spartanburg County, down near the river. Young testified that Jacobs walked with him down near the river and said, 'Here's where you can bring the boy after the kidnap.' Young saw Jacobs again on March 12, 1957, and there was further conversation with reference to the kidnapping. Young again saw Jacobs on March 14, 1957, but the kidnapping was not mentioned. The last meeting between these parties was on June 5, 1957, at the home of Young. The kidnapping was again discussed and Jacobs told Young that he [238 S.C. 239] had gotten some negroes to help with the kidnapping, and they were Will Hill and one named 'Jobie'. He was told that he had printed a ransom note with his left hand on brown paper. It was at this meeting that Jacobs named Robert Vance, Jr. as the intended victim. Young positively testified that he never told Jacobs that he would assist him with the kidnapping. This witness again saw Jacobs at his office on Saturday, June 8, 1957. On this day Young accompanied Jacobs to the home of Jobie Shelton, the appellant herein, but Shelton was not at home. When Young and Jacobs left the home of Shelton, they went to the home of William T. Hill, and Jacobs conversed with Hill away from the automobile in which the parties were traveling, but the witness did hear Jacobs tell Hill that Young and Jobie Shelton were going to do the kidnapping. When Jacobs and Young returned to the town of Clinton, they rode down by the home of Robert M. Vance,...

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25 practice notes
  • State v. Solomon, No. 18330
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 12, 1965
    ...and defined the offense, and in indictment so phrased is ordinarily sufficient. Section 17-402, 1962 Code of Laws; State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d The defendant contends, however, that the indictment should have negated all of the exceptions enumerated in Sections 64-2.1 and 64-2.......
  • State v. Condrey, No. 3471.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 1, 2002
    ...The foregoing statute [the predecessor to § 16-17-410] is declaratory of the common law definition of conspiracy. State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d 735 [1961], and authorities cited therein. It need not be shown that either the object or the means agreed upon is an indictable offens......
  • State v. Homewood, No. 17974
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 10, 1962
    ...any additional instructions or amplifications, he should have requested the same when given the opportunity to do so. State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d Other exceptions on the part of the defendant contend that the court erred in allowing the State to argue matters to the jury which......
  • State v. Horne, No. 2562
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 10, 1996
    ...The foregoing statute [the predecessor to section 16-17-410] is declaratory of the common law definition of conspiracy. State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d 735, and authorities cited therein. It need not be shown that either the object or the means agreed upon is an indictable offense......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • State v. Solomon, No. 18330
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • April 12, 1965
    ...and defined the offense, and in indictment so phrased is ordinarily sufficient. Section 17-402, 1962 Code of Laws; State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d The defendant contends, however, that the indictment should have negated all of the exceptions enumerated in Sections 64-2.1 and 64-2.......
  • State v. Condrey, No. 3471.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • April 1, 2002
    ...The foregoing statute [the predecessor to § 16-17-410] is declaratory of the common law definition of conspiracy. State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d 735 [1961], and authorities cited therein. It need not be shown that either the object or the means agreed upon is an indictable offens......
  • State v. Homewood, No. 17974
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 10, 1962
    ...any additional instructions or amplifications, he should have requested the same when given the opportunity to do so. State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d Other exceptions on the part of the defendant contend that the court erred in allowing the State to argue matters to the jury which......
  • State v. Horne, No. 2562
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 10, 1996
    ...The foregoing statute [the predecessor to section 16-17-410] is declaratory of the common law definition of conspiracy. State v. Jacobs, 238 S.C. 234, 119 S.E.2d 735, and authorities cited therein. It need not be shown that either the object or the means agreed upon is an indictable offense......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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