State v. Riley

Decision Date08 August 1914
Docket Number9014.
Citation82 S.E. 621,98 S.C. 386
PartiesSTATE v. RILEY.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from General Sessions Circuit Court of Greenwood County; J W. De Vore, Judge.

Lily Riley was convicted of manslaughter, and she appeals. Reversed.

Following are the exceptions referred to in the opinion:

The defendant now excepts to the charge, rulings, verdict and sentence in said case and appeals to the Supreme Court on the following grounds:
(1) Because it was error to charge the jury as follows "The drift of the testimony for the defendant is that the killing was accidental; that her main defense is that this killing was an accident"--thereby expressing to the jury his opinion that the defendant's testimony only drifted towards proof of accidental killing, and that the main defense was that it was an accident, when, as a matter of fact, the main defense was that defendant did not commit the deed she is charged with having committed.
(2) Because it was error to charge the jury as follows "The law presumes that a party who has given up all hope of this life will tell the truth, because he knows he is going to meet his God, and, if man will ever tell the truth he will then"--it being submitted that it is the duty of the jury, under the law of this state, to weigh the dying declaration of a deceased person, and determine whether such declarations are to be believed, without any presumption of law that he will tell the truth being taken into consideration.
(3) Because it was error to admit the declarations of deceased, since it did not appear that they were made while declarant was in extremis and after every hope of life was gone, it being submitted that it is the impression of impending death, and not the rapid succession of death in point of fact, which renders a declaration admissible, and the belief of the declarant that he might ultimately die as a result of his injury at a time unlimited and indefinite in the future, is not sufficient to authorize the admission of his statements as a dying declaration.
(4) Because it was error to charge that the said declarations of the deceased were made in extremis, under the impression of impending death, and then charge the jury that they must weigh them just as they would other testimony in the case; it being submitted that such charge was calculated to mislead and did mislead the jury when they took into consideration these subsequent words of the charge, "They are admitted in evidence only when it has been shown that the party making the declaration has given up all hope of life," and then telling the jury that they have a right to differ with the judge after hearing all the testimony, and disregard the declarations, such charge being tantamount to the expression of his opinion on the fact which he had submitted to them and giving them the right to disregard the testimony.
(5) It was error to charge the jury that it was in their power to bring in a verdict of guilty, with or without recommendation to mercy; a verdict of guilty of manslaughter; a verdict of not guilty; "Any of those would be proper;" it being respectfully submitted that such charge was calculated to mislead the jury, in view of the other misleading portions of his honor's charge, hereinabove excepted to.
(6) Because it was error to admit the said declarations and then charge the jury that they are to weigh the questions as to whether they are properly admitted just as they weigh any other testimony, and that it is the duty of the judge to be very cautious and careful with reference to letting in dying declarations as evidence, and thereafter charge the jury that the showing made by the state comes up to the law concerning the admission of such declarations, and then leaving the facts which he charges were
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