State v. Lawson, No. 41661

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtWm. P. Elmer, E. W. Bennett; HYDE
Citation360 Mo. 95,227 S.W.2d 642
Docket NumberNo. 1,No. 41661
Decision Date13 February 1950
PartiesSTATE v. LAWSON

Page 642

227 S.W.2d 642
360 Mo. 95
STATE

v.
LAWSON.
No. 41661.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 1.
Feb. 13, 1950.
Motion for Rehearing or to Transfer to Court en Banc Denied
March 13, 1950.

[360 Mo. 96] Wm. P. Elmer, E. W. Bennett, J. Dean Leffler, all of Salem, for appellant.

[360 Mo. 98]

Page 643

J. E. Taylor, Attorney General, Richard F. Thompson, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

[360 Mo. 99] HYDE, Judge.

Defendant was convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to twenty-five years in the penitentiary. On his appeal, he contends that his motion for a directed verdict should have been sustained, arguing that the corpus delicti was not established.

Deceased, George, McKinney, died after a fight with defendant but his argument is that the evidence does not show that he died from any wound caused by defendant. The fight took place near the Lenox store in Dent County. Deceased and his son were at Lenox when defendant arrived. Defendant and deceased 'shook hands friendly' but defendant apprently confused him with his son who drove a school bus, and had slapped defendant's daughter when she was riding on the bus. Defendant started talking about this incident and deceased defended his son's action. Deceased tried to talk defendant out of making trouble about it, but defendant finally struck him and in the fight that followed defendant was severely beaten (his nose was fractured in five places) until other men pulled deceased off of him after he had knocked defendant down. Immediately after the fight defendant's nose was bleeding and his face was covered with blood. He appeared 'a little bit addled' or dazed when he first got up and walked around. Defendant's left hand and arm had once been badly burned and he did not have much use of it but he was larger than deceased. A few minutes after this fight, deceased came over to defendant near the store and said: 'Charley, I haven't a damned thing ag'in you, let's shake hands and forget it all.' Defendant shook hands but witnesses differed as to whether or not he said anything. (One witness stated defendant said: 'That will be all right with me.')

Deceased then went to his truck and sat down on the running board with his head down looking toward the ground. Defendant was moving around and had picked up some rocks (witnesses said he dropped a rock from his right hand when he shook hands with deceased) and then came up to the left side of deceased. According to the State's evidence, he took a rock out of his hip pocket and struck deceased with it on the left side of the head; then when deceased raised up part way he struck him again behind the ear. Deceased slumped down to the ground; his son, standing by the truck, caught him and laid him on the ground. Defendant was seen to drop a rock after he struck deceased.

The medical evidence consisted of the testimony of Dr. Randall of Licking, who saw the body before it was moved from the place where deceased fell, and Dr. Hart of Salem, who examined the body after it was brought there that evening. Dr. Randall said deceased had been dead from one-half to three-quarters of an hour when he saw him. [360 Mo. 100] He found 'two contusions where he had been hit on the left side of the head, one in the temple and the other behind the ear.' He further stated that, from his examination, he formed the opinion that the cause of death 'was one or both of the licks that he had been given on the side of the head.' His opinion was based on the size and condition of the contusions he observed and the fact that he was oozing blood and serun from the nose, which he said 'would lead you to believe that there was enough brain contusion' on the inside to cause it. Dr. Hart took seven X-ray pictures; he said that, from these pictures and his examination of deceased, that his opinion was that the cause of death was 'a blow or blows on the head.' He thought it more likely that death was caused by the blow behind the ear. The X-rays showed no skull fracture but he said it was difficult to find small fractures and that even an autopsy might not show anything because 'you can have brain damage that you can't see that will kill a man.'

Defendant argues that the State did not prove the cause of death to be a blow struck by him because the X-rays did not show a skull fracture, and because there was no autopsy to determine that there was hemorrhage of the blood vessels of the brain or other brain damage caused by the blows. Defendant says that the

Page 644

external head wounds described were not in themselves fatal or mortal wounds and, therefore, there was no evidence 'establishing death was not due to natural causes induced by other exertion, over excitement, etc.' The corpus delicti in murder consists of two elements, to wit: death of the person alleged to have been murdered and the criminal agency of some one causing his death. State v. Lyle, 353 Mo. 386, 390(2), 182 S.W.2d 530, 532(2); State v. Payne, 331 Mo. 996, 1003(2-3), 56 S.W.2d 116, 118(2-5); State v. Meidle, Mo.Sup., 202 S.W.2d 79, 80(5). There was no question about the death of George McKinney and there was direct substantial evidence that defendant struck him twice on the left side of the head with a rock he took from his hip pocket. Both Doctors, who examined the contusions made by these blows, gave their opinions that these were the cause of death. There is nothing unreasonable or improbable about that. After all, we have it on high authority that the youthful David killed the giant Goliath with a rock which struck him on the forehead. (1...

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5 practice notes
  • State v. Smith, No. 46171
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 10, 1958
    ...The issue remaining for consideration was appellant's criminal agency. State v. Meidle, Mo., 202 S.W.2d 79, 80; State v. Lawson, 360 Mo. 95, 227 S.W.2d 642, 643[1, 2].) Appellant's objection was overruled. Thereupon, at the direction of the court, the officer read said exhibit E to the cour......
  • State v. Vincent, No. 46849
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 9, 1959
    ...enough to penetrate to the heart and cause death; and that a deadly weapon was used upon a vital part of deceased's body. State v. Lawson, 360 Mo. 95, 227 S.W.2d 642, 644; State v. Bowles, 146 Mo. 6, 13, 47 S.W. 892. Whether defendant acted in self-defense was for the jury, since the jury c......
  • State v. Tyson, No. 43481
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 8, 1953
    ...where the deceased lay in relation to the automobile, the position of the car with relation to the house'. See also State v. Lawson, 360 Mo. 95, 227 S.W.2d 642, and cases cited 227 S.W.2d loc. cit. 645. We think the photographs admitted herein not only tend to establish the existing conditi......
  • Lloyd v. St. Louis Public Service Co., No. 41527
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 13, 1950
    ...case discloses the confusion which naturally follows a failure to observe this rule. This case also demonstrates the wisdom of the rule. [360 Mo. 95] The order of the trial court granting a new trial must be and is hereby affirmed and the cause remanded for BOHLING and BARRETT, CC., concur.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State v. Smith, No. 46171
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 10, 1958
    ...The issue remaining for consideration was appellant's criminal agency. State v. Meidle, Mo., 202 S.W.2d 79, 80; State v. Lawson, 360 Mo. 95, 227 S.W.2d 642, 643[1, 2].) Appellant's objection was overruled. Thereupon, at the direction of the court, the officer read said exhibit E to the cour......
  • State v. Vincent, No. 46849
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 9, 1959
    ...enough to penetrate to the heart and cause death; and that a deadly weapon was used upon a vital part of deceased's body. State v. Lawson, 360 Mo. 95, 227 S.W.2d 642, 644; State v. Bowles, 146 Mo. 6, 13, 47 S.W. 892. Whether defendant acted in self-defense was for the jury, since the jury c......
  • State v. Tyson, No. 43481
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 8, 1953
    ...where the deceased lay in relation to the automobile, the position of the car with relation to the house'. See also State v. Lawson, 360 Mo. 95, 227 S.W.2d 642, and cases cited 227 S.W.2d loc. cit. 645. We think the photographs admitted herein not only tend to establish the existing conditi......
  • Lloyd v. St. Louis Public Service Co., No. 41527
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 13, 1950
    ...case discloses the confusion which naturally follows a failure to observe this rule. This case also demonstrates the wisdom of the rule. [360 Mo. 95] The order of the trial court granting a new trial must be and is hereby affirmed and the cause remanded for BOHLING and BARRETT, CC., concur.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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