State v. Korth, No. 38594.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSTEVENS
Citation217 N.W. 236,204 Iowa 1360
PartiesSTATE v. KORTH.
Decision Date10 January 1928
Docket NumberNo. 38594.

204 Iowa 1360
217 N.W. 236

STATE
v.
KORTH.

No. 38594.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Jan. 10, 1928.


Appeal from District Court, Woodbury County; Robt. H. Munger, Judge.

The defendant was convicted of the crime of involuntary manslaughter. From a judgment imposing a fine of $3,000 and confinement in the reformatory at Anamosa for a term of eight years, he appeals. Reversed.

De Graff and Wagner, JJ., dissenting.

[217 N.W. 237]

Yeaman & Yeaman and Milchrist, Jepson, Marshall & Jepson, all of Sioux City, for appellant.

John Fletcher, Atty. Gen., Neill Garrett, Asst. Atty. Gen., and O. T. Naglestad, Co. Atty., of Sioux City, for the State.


STEVENS, C. J.

The facts will be fully stated in another division of this opinion.

A motion to quash the indictment was filed by the defendant before the jury was sworn. Briefly stated, the grounds of the motion were that the indictment does not charge the crime of manslaughter or any crime known to the laws of Iowa; that it charges more than one offense in a single count; that it is bad for duplicity; and that its language is not direct and certain as required by law, but, on the contrary, ambiguous. The motion was overruled, a jury impaneled, and the case tried with the result already stated.

The indictment in substance charged that the defendant knowingly, unlawfully, and feloniously in a grossly negligent and reckless manner caused morphine to be mixed with coffee with the intent that the said coffee should be consumed as a beverage by some person to the grand jury unknown, and caused the same to be placed where it was obtained and drunk by one Louis Des Jarlais, resulting in his death.

Negligence is further charged in the omission to label the bottle containing the liquid so as to indicate that it contained poison. The crime charged is involuntary manslaughter, which was defined by this court in State v. Abarr, 39 Iowa, 185, as follows:

“Where a man doing an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, by accident kills another, * * * this is called involuntary manslaughter.”

We said in State v. Warner, 157 Iowa, 111, that:

“Involuntary manslaughter may be committed in many ways, and the law is so solicitous of human life that it considers as unlawful all acts which are dangerous to the person against whom they are directed, and not justified by the occasion, no matter how innocently they may have been performed.”

The offense is defined in Cyclopedia Criminal Law, § 666, as follows:

“Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being unintentionally and without malice, express or implied, but in the commission of some unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or some lawful act in an unlawful or negligent manner. An intent to kill is not an essential element of the offense, and its absence distinguishes it from voluntary manslaughter.”

[1] The possession or control of narcotic drugs for any purpose, unless obtained upon the original written prescription of a licensed physician, dentist, or veterinarian, who has registered under the federal law regulating the traffic in narcotic drugs, is prohibited by the statute of this state. Section 3154, Code 1924.

It is also unlawful for any person to deliver or give away any narcotic drug. Section 3152, Code 1924. The defendant was not a registered pharmacist nor a person authorized to have narcotic drugs in his possession, and the giving away thereof to any person by him would be a violation of the statute. Involuntary manslaughter may be committed in a great variety of ways, such as the careless and negligent handling of a loaded gun: State v. Benham, 23 Iowa, 154, 92 Am. Dec. 416;State v. Hardie, 47 Iowa, 647, 29 Am. Rep. 496;State v. Vance, 17 Iowa, 138. The reckless, careless, and negligent operation of an automobile: State v. Biewen, 169 Iowa, 256, 151 N. W. 102;State v. Salmer, 181 Iowa, 280, 164 N. W. 620. That a common beverage such as coffee containing a deadly quantity of morphine might be so negligently placed or disposed of as to, if drank with fatal results, constitute involuntary manslaughter, we entertain no doubt.

[2][3] The indictment is not bad for duplicity or on any of the other grounds of the motion. An indictment charging involuntary manslaughter must, of course, allege the facts relied upon to make out the offense. State v. Decker & Sons, 197 Iowa, 41, 196 N. W. 600;State v. Sexsmith, 200 Iowa, 1244, 206 N. W. 100. That is what was done in this case. The motion was properly overruled.

[4] II. The sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the conviction, which was raised by motion to direct a verdict and by motion for a new trial and in arrest of judgment, is one of the principal grounds alleged...

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13 practice notes
  • Grismore v. Consol. Prods. Co., No. 45940.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 29, 1942
    ...476, 125 Am.St.Rep. 215 (Expert permitted to give his opinion that “some such external violence” caused the injury.); State v. Korth, 204 Iowa 1360, 217 N.W. 236 (A medical witness, answering a hypothetical question based on testimony of others and his own examination of the body of decease......
  • State v. Graff, No. 44218.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 13, 1938
    ...matter how innocently they may have been performed.” The rule announced in State v. Abarr, 39 Iowa 185, was reaffirmed in State v. Korth, 204 Iowa 1360, loc. cit. 1362, 217 N.W. 236, loc. cit. 237, wherein this court said: “The crime charged is involuntary manslaughter, which was defined by......
  • State v. Woodmansee, No. 40376.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 13, 1930
    ...and contemporaneously made at the happening of the primary event, to wit, the assault in question. See State v. Korth, 204 Iowa, 1360, 217 N. W. 236;State v. Lewallen, 198 Iowa, 382, 199 N. W. 266;State v. Lewis, 139 Iowa, 405, 116 N. W. 606. It is the claim of counsel for the defendant tha......
  • State v. Richardson, No. 40819.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 20, 1933
    ...*191, 192; State v. Salmer, 181 Iowa, 280, 164 N. W. 620;State v. Thomlinson, 209 Iowa, 555, 228 N. W. 80;State v. Korth, 204 Iowa, 1360, 217 N. W. 236;People v. Ryczek, 224 Mich. 106, 194 N. W. 609;Schultz v. State, 89 Neb. 34, 130 N. W. 972, 33 L. R. A. (N. S.) 403, Ann. Cas. 1912C, 495;C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Grismore v. Consol. Prods. Co., No. 45940.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 29, 1942
    ...476, 125 Am.St.Rep. 215 (Expert permitted to give his opinion that “some such external violence” caused the injury.); State v. Korth, 204 Iowa 1360, 217 N.W. 236 (A medical witness, answering a hypothetical question based on testimony of others and his own examination of the body of decease......
  • State v. Graff, No. 44218.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 13, 1938
    ...matter how innocently they may have been performed.” The rule announced in State v. Abarr, 39 Iowa 185, was reaffirmed in State v. Korth, 204 Iowa 1360, loc. cit. 1362, 217 N.W. 236, loc. cit. 237, wherein this court said: “The crime charged is involuntary manslaughter, which was defined by......
  • State v. Woodmansee, No. 40376.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 13, 1930
    ...and contemporaneously made at the happening of the primary event, to wit, the assault in question. See State v. Korth, 204 Iowa, 1360, 217 N. W. 236;State v. Lewallen, 198 Iowa, 382, 199 N. W. 266;State v. Lewis, 139 Iowa, 405, 116 N. W. 606. It is the claim of counsel for the defendant tha......
  • State v. Richardson, No. 40819.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 20, 1933
    ...*191, 192; State v. Salmer, 181 Iowa, 280, 164 N. W. 620;State v. Thomlinson, 209 Iowa, 555, 228 N. W. 80;State v. Korth, 204 Iowa, 1360, 217 N. W. 236;People v. Ryczek, 224 Mich. 106, 194 N. W. 609;Schultz v. State, 89 Neb. 34, 130 N. W. 972, 33 L. R. A. (N. S.) 403, Ann. Cas. 1912C, 495;C......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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