State v. Stump, 50605

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation254 Iowa 1181,119 N.W.2d 210
Docket NumberNo. 50605,50605
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee. v. Ronald Maurice STUMP, Appellant.
Decision Date15 January 1963

J. R. McManus, Des Moines, for appellant.

Evan Hultman, Atty. Gen. of Iowa, John H. Allen, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Harry Perkins, Jr., County Atty., for appellee.

SNELL, Justice.

Defendant Ronald Maurice Stump was indicted by the grand jury of Polk County for 'Murder in the First Degree as defined in sections 690.1 and 690.2 of the 1958 Code of Iowa' * * *. The indictment charged that defendant 'did with malice aforethought, premeditation, deliberation and intent to kill, murder Michael Daly in Polk County, Iowa.' Defendant was represented by able, experienced and resourceful counsel of his own choice. The indictment was followed by defendant's motions to require a physical examination of a state witness; motion to set aside and to quash indictment; demurrer to indictment; application for bill of particulars; motion to require the state to plead responsively to defendant's motions; petition for production of books and papers; and a plea of not guilty. Prior to trial defendant, through counsel, gave notice of reliance on the defense that he was at some other place at the time of the alleged commission of the offense; a defense commonly known as an alibi.

Trial to a jury resulted in a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree. The usual motions to direct a verdict, in arrest of judgment and for new trial were made and overruled. From judgment of imprisonment pursuant to Code Section 690.3 I.C.A. defendant has appealed.

I. Pursuant to section 793.18, Code of Iowa, I.C.A., we have examined the record without regard to technical errors or defects which do not affect the substantial rights of the parties in order that there may be such judgment on the record as the law demands. It is our duty to determine whether or not defendant has had a fair trial; review questions of law and procedure; determine whether proper evidence has been admitted and improper evidence rejected, and whether there is evidence to support issuable questions of fact determined by the jury. It is not for us to pass upon or decide issuable questions of fact properly submitted to the jury. Under our constitution and statutes that is what juries are for.

Detailed recitation of voluminous testimony admitted for consideration by the jury but not germane to our problems is not necessary.

We have examined the entire record, replete with objections made and exceptions taken, but will within reasonable limitations confine our discussion to the matters argued and claimed to be error.

Defendant was 22 years old at the time of trial. He had graduated from college with honors. In June, 1961 he was employed in Des Moines. While in college in 1959 and 1960 he met, dated and became engaged to marry Leanna Skultety. As time passed Miss Skultety concluded that they were incompatible in some things, particularly in religion. Her ardor cooled and she broke the engagement. Defendant was not easily discouraged and persisted in his efforts to gain the young lady's favor. He had little success.

In January, 1961 Miss Skultety met and began dating regularly Michael Daly. They became engaged to marry in February, 1961. Faced with such upsetting developments defendant obtained and showed to Miss Skultety a derogatory report on Michael Daly. Defendant's dissuasive efforts did not prevail.

On the evening of June 9, 1961 Daly and Miss Skultety were together in her car. After driving around they stopped in front of the home of Daly's parents. Miss Skultety testified that another car had been following them. A man identified by Miss Skultety as defendant got out of the other car. Daly and Miss Skultety got out of her car. She testified that she heard a noise, turned and saw defendant shoot Daly; that Daly fell toward the back of the car; that defendant walked closer, stood over him and fired. She screamed, heard footsteps, heard and saw the other car go. She ran into the house and called Michael Daly's father. An ambulance and the police were called and the alarm for the apprehension of defendant was sounded. Daly died in the hospital a few hours later as a result of a gun shot wound in his head. The murder weapon was never produced.

Miss Skultety was the only eye witness to the shooting. Her identification of defendant as the assailant was positive and unequivocal.

Other witnesses testified as to defendant's presence in the neighborhood, hearing shots sounding like fire crackers, and seeing the departing car. There was disagreement among the witnesses as to the description of the departing car. There was ample evidence identifying defendant as the assailant to support a jury verdict. The extensive testimony, derogatory in nature, relative to the prior conduct of the three principals in this tragic love triangle need not be repeated here.

Defendant was taken into custody in Ottumwa on the morning of June 10th. He was at the home of a relative with whom he had spent at least the latter part of the night.

Defendant testified that between 7:30 and 8:00 P.M. on June 9th he started for Ottumwa. This was prior to the shooting. He said he arrived in Ottumwa between 10:00 and 10:30. Defendant called a number of witnesses who testified as to his activities and their own observations and time and distance computations to show that defendant could not have been present at the time and place of the shooting.

II. Defendant called as a witness in his behalf John Moody, at the time of trial a deputy sheriff, but at the time of the shooting a life insurance agent. The witness testified that on June 9, 1961 he had dinner with Michael Daly and another man and at that time took from Daly an application for $10,000 life insurance naming Daly's father as beneficiary. The premium was not paid, the transaction never consummated and the policy never issued. During the conversation 'there was some mention' of Leanna Skultety.

At this point counsel for the State objected to the testimony and on motion the Court struck the testimony as immaterial.

Later defendant made an offer of proof, in the absence of the jury, that in the conversation between Daly and witness Moody, Daly said 'he had Leanna Skultety pregnant, that she was then pregnant three months and that he guessed he was going to have to marry her.' The offer of the testimony was refused. The rulings were proper.

Testimony that at dinner time Daly signed an application but did not pay for life insurance payable to his father was wholly immaterial as a defense to the charge that later that evening he was shot by defendant.

Statements by Daly that he had Leanna Skultety pregnant were properly rejected. They had no probative value whatsoever except possibly to prove motive in defendant as a rejected suitor. That would not help the defense. The fact that Leanna Skultety was pregnant by Daly was not in issue and was no secret. She had so testified in direct examination as a State's witness.

Defendant's argument that the evidence about an unconsummated application for insurance was material in that it would permit the jury to draw the inference that the victim's father might have a motive for killing his own son is not persuasive. Evidence tending to incriminate another must be confined to substantive facts and create more than a mere suspicion that such other person committed the offense. State v. Rosenberg, 238 Iowa 621, 625, 27 N.W.2d 904. If the credibility of Leanna Skultety was to be weakened by evidence of her pregnancy that purpose had been accomplished by her own admission long before defendant's offer of testimony. The argument does not merit further discussion.

Defendant argues that objections to the testimony and offer of proof were not sufficiently complete or timely.

State v. Bales, 251 Iowa 677, 681, 102 N.W.2d 162, 165, quotes with approval from 22 C.J.S. Criminal Law § 740, p. 1276. The statement quoted now appears with only slight change in 22A C.J.S. Criminal Law § 740 as follows:

'The person injured by the crime, whether alive or dead, is in no sense a party to the prosecution, and therefore [as a general rule] his statements and declarations are not evidence either for or against accused, unless they are relevant on the question of accused's guilt and were made in his presence, or unless they are admissible as part of the res gestae, * * * or perhaps as threats, * * *. Such testimony is generally inadmissible as hearsay.'

State v. Bales on page 682 Iowa Reports, 102 N.W.2d on page 165 also says:

'The rule is well established in this jurisdiction that, although an insufficient objection is interposed if the court sustains the same, and there was in fact a good and sufficient objection to the reception of the evidence, there is no reversible error. In re Will of Smith, 245 Iowa 38, 46, 60 N.W.2d 866, and cases cited therein. In re Will of Crissick, 174 Iowa 397, 416, 156 N.W. 415 422, often referred to as ably stating the rule, it was said: 'If matter is, in fact, objectionable * * * it does not matter that objection was not more specific, or that none was interposed. * * * But, where the court sustains an objection, and there are, in fact, good grounds for so doing, there will be no reversal because good reasons or full reasons were not presented below.''

Defendant argues that a litigant may not wait for answers which are responsive to questions asked without objection, and then, if the answer is unsatisfactory, have it stricken from the record. Assuming, arguendo, that is the law it does not follow that a trial court must sit idly by and permit the incumbering of the record with immaterial and hearsay evidence or that there is reversible error when such matter is stricken.

The contentious reaction of defendant's counsel to adverse rulings was followed, outside the presence of the jury, by an acrimonious...

To continue reading

Request your trial
52 cases
  • Alicea v. Gagnon
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • April 14, 1982 the South Dakota Supreme Court in State v. Hibbard, 273 N.W.2d 172 (S.D.1978), and by the Iowa Supreme Court in State v. Stump, 254 Iowa 1181, 119 N.W.2d 210, cert. denied, 375 U.S. 853, 84 S.Ct. 113, 11 L.Ed.2d 80 (1963), where preclusion of the respective defendants' alibi testimony wa......
  • State v. Hall
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 12, 1975
    ...who appeared, some of whom will not be called to testify. State v. Schlater, 170 N.W.2d 601, 605 (Iowa 1969); State v. Stump, 254 Iowa 1181, 1198, 119 N.W.2d 210, 220 (1963); State v. Stafford, 237 Iowa 780, 782--783, 23 N.W.2d 832, 834 (1946). These are all matters which cannot be raised n......
  • Johnson v. Bennett, 18744.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • July 17, 1969 to the case as a whole was on the state. Stump's conviction was affirmed by the Iowa Supreme Court by a divided (5-3) vote. State v. Stump, 254 Iowa 1181, 119 N. W.2d 210 (1963). Certiorari was denied. 375 U.S. 853, 84 S.Ct. 113, 11 L. Ed.2d In his federal habeas petition Stump raised th......
  • State v. Douglas
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • February 10, 1982
    ...alibi witnesses. State v. Smith, 88 N.M. 541, 543 P.2d 834 (1975); State v. Dodd, 101 Ariz. 234, 418 P.2d 571 (1966); State v. Stump, 254 Iowa 1181, 119 N.W.2d 210 (1963); see also Johns v. Perini, 440 F.2d 577 (6th Cir. 1971) (applying Ohio law). More recent cases recognize that the preclu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT