State v. Pearson

Decision Date18 October 1928
Docket NumberNo. 6463.,6463.
Citation143 A. 413
CourtRhode Island Supreme Court

Exceptions from Superior Court, Providence and Bristol Counties; J. Jerome Hahn, Judge.

James Pearson was convicted of rape, and he brings exceptions. Exceptions overruled, and case remitted.

Louis V. Jackvony, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

Frank H. Wildes and Pettine, Godfrey & Cambio, all of Providence, for defendant.

STEARNS, J. Defendant was convicted of the crime of rape. The trial justice denied his motion for a new trial, and the case is in this court on bill of exceptions. In defendant's brief and argument, most of the exceptions were grouped and will be thus considered.

At the trial the defense was an alibi; it was admitted that the prosecutrix had been ravished and the issue was whether defendant was the perpetrator of the crime. Without stating unnecessary details, the facts are as follows:

The prosecutrix was a young unmarried woman. On the night of April 13, 1926, after an automobile ride with a friend, she returned to the house in which she was a boarder. After entering the lower hallway, she was called to the street door by a strange man who told her that he was a police official; that she must accompany him to the police station, and there explain her conduct in "parking" an automobile without lights thereon. Despite her protests, she was led by this stranger to an automobile in which she was taken to an open lot, not far distant, where she was ravished, after she had vainly struggled to protect herself and had fainted. Her assailant returned with her to a street near her home, and there allowed her to get out of the automobile. On leaving the automobile she saw the registration number. When she got home, she told two of her friends of the assault. At 7 o'clock on the following morning she went to work in the mill where she was employed. The attention of the foreman and of her employer was directed to her by her crying and nervousness. As a result of their inquiry as to the cause of her trouble, she told them, and also the wife of her employer, of the occurrences of the previous night. The police department was notified by the employer, and a criminal complaint was made by the chief of police, in which the defendant was charged with simple assault. Defendant was arrested, and after a trial by a judge of a district court was found not guilty of assault. He was later indicted for rape, and found guilty by a jury.

The objections to the admission of the complaints made by the prosecutrix are without merit. The offense was committed about 11 o'clock at night, and the complaints on the following morning were made before 9 o'clock, within 10 hours after the injury. In the recent case of State v. Russo, 49 R. I.——, 142

A. 543, this court approved and applied the rule that in cases of this nature the length of time between the injury and the complaint will not of itself exclude proof of the complaint. The complaints were made voluntarily to persons to whom the prosecutrix would naturally complain. The claim that the complaints made in the morning were not voluntary, but were the result of persistent questioning, is without foundation. No attempt was made to induce the prosecutrix to make any complaint; all that was sought was to learn the source of her trouble in order to help her.

The defendant admitted that he was driving the automobile in which the offense was alleged to have been committed on the night in question. He testified that he left his home in Pawtucket that night about 7 o'clock, and with a companion drove to Brockton, Mass., where he remained for several hours, and that he did not return to his home until 2 o'clock the following morning. The automobile was registered as the property of defendant's father, but he never operated it, and did not have a driver's license. The state claimed that defendant was the actual owner and regular driver of the car. In the direct examination, defendant testified that he did not have an operator's license, and that he had not applied for a renewal of a license formerly held by him, which had expired in 1924, because he did not need to use an automobile in his business. In the cross-examination of a clerk of the state automobile department, defendant's counsel asked this question:

"34 Q. So far as your record goes, there had been no complaint filed with your board that would hold up a license? * * * A. There is nothing in his record that would hold up the driver's license."

The witness on redirect examination stated that this testimony was incorrect, and asked permission to correct it. Defendant objected to any correction, and took exception to the ruling of the court allowing such correction to be made. The witness then testified that there was a complaint in his record against defendant, made by the police department; that defendant had falsely represented himself to be a police officer. Such testimony, although inadmissible for the state was elicited by defendant's counsel's questions in cross-examination, and the exception thereto is overruled.

The defendant sought to attack the credibility of the prosecutrix, who was a witness, by evidence of her reputation for chastity. The exclusion of such evidence was correct. Evidence of chastity is generally held to be admissible, when the question of consent of the prosecutrix is in issue. Although there is considerable authority in other jurisdictions to support defendant's contention, the established practice in this state and in many other states does not permit the introduction of such evidence to impeach the credibility of a witness. Thus in State v. Fitzsimon, 18 R. I. 236, 27 A. 446, 49 Am. St. Rep. 766, it was held...

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12 cases
  • State v. Day
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • July 2, 2007
    ...that failure to file such a motion prior to trial entails the grave risk of forfeiture of a legal argument. 23. See State v. Pearson, 49 R.I. 386, 391, 143 A. 413, 415 (1928). 24. Although Rhode Island has a statute that sets forth the penalties for the crime of robbery (G.L.1956 § 11-39-1)......
  • Charette v. State
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Superior Court
    • April 9, 2012
    ...regard to the double jeopardy argument, it is clear that some case law in our jurisdiction goes back to 1928. See State v. Pearson, 49 R.I. 386, 391, 143 A. 413, 415 (1928) ("This defense, if not waived by defendant, should have been made by a special plea . . . and tried before the general......
  • Bennett v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • July 5, 1962
    ...v. Rose, 89 Ohio St. 383, 106 N.E. 50, L.R.A. 1915A, 256; Crowley v. State, 94 Ohio St. 88, 113 N.E. 658, L.R.A.1917A, 661; State v. Pearson, 49 R.I. 386, 143 A. 413; Bowman v. State, 160 Tenn. 305, 23 S.W.2d 658; Severin v. People, 37 Ill. 414, 422. See A.L.I., Double Jeopardy, supra (1935......
  • State v. Shelton
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • March 23, 2010
    ...a late post-trial date absent some compelling reason * * *." State v. McGuy, 841 A.2d 1109, 1115 (R.I.2003) (citing State v. Pearson, 49 R.I. 386, 391, 143 A. 413, 415(1928)). The defendant has not presented a compelling reason for this Court to grant relief from the waiver of his merger ar......
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