State v. Kneedy

Decision Date12 May 1942
Docket Number45649.
Citation3 N.W.2d 611,232 Iowa 21
CourtIowa Supreme Court

White & Bruner, of Carroll, for appellant.

John M. Rankin, Atty. Gen., Jens Grothe, Asst. Atty Gen., and Lloyd Karr, Co. Atty., of Webster City, for appellee.


Defendant Herbert Kneedy, was indicted for assault with intent to murder one Cook. Upon the trial the court withdrew from the jury the crime charged in the indictment, but submitted the included offenses of assault with intent to inflict great bodily injury and assault and battery. The jury found Kneedy guilty of assault with intent to inflict great bodily injury on the theory that he aided and abetted Claude Van who struck the blow. In a separate trial, Van was convicted of the same offense and his conviction has been upheld by us. State v Van, 2 N.W.2d 748.

At the close of the state's testimony, appellant moved for a directed verdict because of insufficient evidence. The motion was overruled and was not renewed, although appellant offered evidence in his behalf. Following the verdict, appellant moved for a new trial, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict. This motion was overruled and judgment entered on the verdict. The overruling of the motion to direct is not before us. That motion was waived because not renewed and the case is before us as if no such motion had been made. Appellant cannot be heard to say that there was no evidence to submit to the jury. State v. Asbury, 172 Iowa 606, 615, 616, 154 N.W. 915, Ann.Cas.1918A, 856; State v. Bosworth, 170 Iowa 329, 331, 152 N.W. 581; Annotation 17 A.L.R. 910, 925, and citations. Nevertheless, the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict is properly reviewable because raised in the motion for new trial. State v. Tibbits, 207 Iowa 1033, 1035, 222 N.W. 423; State v. Dolson, 188 Iowa 629, 630, 176 N.W. 678; State v. Chambers, 179 Iowa 436, 440, 161 N.W. 470. This is the only question before us on this appeal. No other complaint is made.

On the afternoon and evening of January 4, 1941, Van and Kneedy were in Fitzgerald's pool hall and beer parlor in Webster City. Shortly before midnight, closing time, Van, Kneedy, and one Johnson, who was playing pool with Van, engaged in a heated argument in which loud talk and profanity were used. The argument started when Johnson discovered that five pool balls with which he and Van had been playing were in Kneedy's pocket. Van had placed them there. Johnson accused Kneedy of assisting Van to cheat in the pool game, which Kneedy testified was played for money. Fitzgerald and his employee, Powell, asked Van and Kneedy more than once to leave. They both defiantly refused to go. Thereupon Fitzgerald took Kneedy by the collar and pushed him out the front door. Kneedy admitted as a witness that he resisted by pushing back. Powell, with some assistance from Cook, put Van out.

As Van was being put out and when within 3 or 4 feet of Kneedy, he turned to Powell and Cook and threatened to get even with them. As soon as Van and Kneedy were outside, Fitzgerald held the door shut with his foot to prevent them from re-entering. There is evidence that Cook assisted in holding the door shut. It was a double door with large glass panels. Kneedy immediately began pushing the door open and succeeded in opening it a sufficient distance for Van to reach in and strike Cook, who fell to the floor unconscious. The blow was struck instantly as the door was opened. After Cook was struck, Fitzgerald and Powell went out the door. Both Van and Kneedy "came at" Fitzgerald with their fists doubled up, swinging at him. Kneedy had his fists drawn back ready to hit Powell, but Fitzgerald prevented this.

Since this appeal presents only the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict, we quote the following excerpts from the record:

Fitzgerald, proprietor of the poolroom, testified: "I was in the pool hall on the night of January 4. Kneedy and Van had been in there all afternoon and evening and were there when I came back from supper. My closing time is 12 o'clock and I saw them at that time. They got into an argument about 12 o'clock. * * * I told them to get out. Kneedy said 'We don't have to get out.' We then put them out. * * * After Van and Kneedy were put out the front door, I held it shut with my foot. Kneedy pushed it open. I saw this through the glass in the door. Kneedy was directly opposite me with his hands on the glass. Cook was standing about where the two front doors divide. * * * As Kneedy pushed it open, Van hit Cook through the door and Cook fell to the floor. Just as soon as the door was opened Cook was struck. I then stepped outside and both Van and Kneedy came at me with their fists doubled up, swinging at me. Mr. Kneedy was doing his part of it. Mr. Kneedy was standing there with his fists drawn back ready to hit Mr. Powell and I hit Mr. Kneedy then."

McCollough, a national guardsman who had lived in Webster City all his life, witnessed the affair. He testified: "Van and Kneedy were both swearing. I heard Fitzgerald tell them they would have to get out * * * and then Powell told them they would have to get out. Kneedy replied, 'We don't have to get out.' Fitzgerald then came back and told them to get out and they still insisted they didn't have to do so. Fitzgerald then grabbed Kneedy and started for the door with him, and Powell grabbed Van and started with him toward the door. Powell and Van were three or four feet behind Kneedy and Fitzgerald. While Van was being put out he turned his head to the right and said he would get even with them for throwing him out. * * * his head was turned toward both Cook and Powell. * * * Cook was struck immediately after the door was opened. After the blow was struck I went outside and saw Kneedy standing with his back to the west window and with his fists drawn and raised. * * * When Powell went out Kneedy and Van had their fists drawn ready to strike. * * * Kneedy gave no help to Cook and did not come back to see what was wrong. * * * Officer Weedman took Van down the street, and told me to come along because he wanted me to file the information against them. Kneedy and Powell came along behind. Kneedy called me back several times to tell me to keep out of it, and that I had better not go along. He said it would mean trouble for me, and he asked me if I didn't think Cook got what he had coming to him and he said he would like to have got those other two guys also (i. e., Powell and Fitzgerald). * * * Kneedy offered no resistance when he was taken out other than to hold his weight back so as to be forced."

Waggoner, a soldier in the army, also was an eyewitness. He testified: "Kneedy was being forced out, and didn't want to go but I didn't hear him say anything. The only thing I heard Van say was something about he would get even for being put out. After Kneedy and Van were put out and the door was closed they tried to get back in. * * * Cook was struck immediately after the door was pushed open."

Powell, the employee who escorted Van to the door, gave the following testimony: "They were talking loud and using profane language * * * we asked them to go. * * * Kneedy said they didn't have to go. Van said the same thing. * * * Fitzgerald, Cook and I forced them out. * * * Van said, 'I will get even with you for this.' * * * After the door was opened, the blow was immediately struck. * * * I heard Calkins say to Van and Kneedy, 'You about killed a man. You had better stay and wait till the law comes.' They didn't say anything but just began walking away. Neither Van nor Kneedy stopped to see how badly Cook was hit."

Lee C. Croves gave the following incriminating testimony: "I saw Kneedy in the Little Chicago cafe about 1:00 or 1:30 Sunday morning, January 5. Kneedy came back to the counter where I was drinking coffee and said to me, 'We gave Glen Cook what he had coming tonight."'

Appellant's witness Briggs testified: "At the last game of pool, Kneedy and Van were drinking quite a little." Kneedy admitted as a witness he had been drinking.

Sam Calkins testified: "I seen Mr. Kneedy out in the street and Mr. Van had walked down beyond him, and I hollered 'Boys, don't run because this man in here is hurt pretty bad and you had better not try to run away,' and then I went back in the pool hall. Neither Kneedy nor Van came back when I hollered at them."

Appellant gave the following testimony before the grand jury: "We were put outside the door and the door was shut and I was resentful about being forcibly put out and wanted to get back in so I put my hands on the door that opens and whether or not the pressure of my hands on the door opened the door or whether it was opened from the inside, I do not know, but when the door was opened, Claude Van reached in and hit Cook and Cook fell to the floor." At the trial, appellant testified: "I was resentful at the way I had been treated. Nobody touched me but Fitzgerald and I was resentful toward him."

Principal witness for appellant, aside from himself, was Briggs, whose home was in Dubuque. Van's home was in Waterloo and Kneedy lived in Webster City. Van and Briggs had come to Webster City together on January 4. Briggs testified that he and Kneedy associated "a considerable amount of time. He rides around with me in my car once in awhile." Kneedy testified: "Van, Briggs and myself had been together several times during the month prior to January 4. I was in Algona with Van." Briggs gave an entirely different version of the attack on Cook than any other witness including appellant himself. Briggs testified that Powell put Kneedy out and Fitzgerald merely gave some assistance. Briggs also said: "Cook, just before he closed the door, took a swing with...

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