State v. Thompson

Decision Date25 January 1935
Docket Number30094.
Citation258 N.W. 527,193 Minn. 364
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Appeal from District Court, Clearwater County; Graham M. Torrance Judge.

Proceedings by the State against Armer Thompson. From order denying motion for new trial, defendant appeals.


Evidence in bastardy proceedings held to sustain verdict against defendant.

Syllabus by the Court .

In bastardy proceeding, evidence held to sustain jury's finding of defendant's guilt.

George E. Ericson, of Bagley, for appellant.

O. E Lewis, Co. Atty., of Bagley, for the State.

DEVANEY, Chief Justice.

This is a bastardy proceeding. The jury returned a verdict against Armer Thompson, and found him to be the father of an illegitimate child born to Sybil Murray, and unmarried female. The chief assignment of error challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the verdict.

It appears that the prosecutrix attended high school in Bagley Minn., between September, 1930, and February, 1932. During her first year in school she made the acquaintance of the defendant herein. She kept company with him for approximately a year and a half, and testified that during this time she had sexual intercourse with him on numerous occasions. These acts of intercourse continued until the middle of February, 1932, when the prosecutrix left school because of her pregnancy. She first learned of her condition in January, 1932. She was then sixteen years of age. The child was born October 8, 1932. She testified that defendant was the only one with whom she ever had intercourse. Defendant did not deny that he had had intercourse with the prosecutrix nor did he attempt to prove that persons other than himself had had intercourse with her at or about the time of her becoming pregnant.

On this state of facts, it must be held that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the jury's finding of guilt. Bastardy proceedings in this state are civil in nature, rather than criminal. State v. Jeffrey, 188 Minn. 476, 247 N.W. 692. Hence the state need not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, but only by a fair preponderance of the evidence. State v. Nichols, 29 Minn. 357, 13 N.W. 153.

Stress is laid on the fact that, though the prosecutrix knew in January, 1932, that she was pregnant, she told no one but her mother of that fact, not even defendant. Further, she did not tell any one until August, 1932, not even her mother,...

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