State v. Vansant

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtHOUGH
Citation80 Mo. 67
PartiesTHE STATE v. VANSANT, Appellant.
Decision Date31 October 1883

80 Mo. 67

THE STATE
v.
VANSANT, Appellant.

Supreme Court of Missouri.

October Term, 1883.


Appeal from Jackson Criminal Court.--HON. H. P. WHITE, Judge.

REVERSED.

The instructions given to the jury were as follows:

1. If you shall find and believe from the evidence that at the county of Jackson, State of Missouri, at any time prior to the 31st day of May, 1883, the day on which the indictment in this cause was filed, the defendant John Vansant, in the manner

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and by the means specified in the indictment, willfully, with deliberation, premeditation and malice aforethought, assaulted and wounded the deceased, Porter Armstrong, and that within one year and a day thereafter, and before the filing of said indictment, the said Porter Armstrong, at the county and State aforesaid, died from the effects of the wound so inflicted upon him by the defendant, the verdict should be that defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree.

2. If you shall believe and find from the evidence that, at the county of Jackson, State of Missouri, at any time within three years next before the filing of the indictment in this cause, the defendant, John Vansant, in the manner and by the means named in the indictment, willfully assaulted and wounded the deceased, Porter Armstrong, and that within one year and a day thereafter, and before the filing of said indictment, the said Porter Armstrong, at the county and State above named, died from the effects of such wound, but shall further believe and find from the evidence that at the time of such assaulting and wounding he, the defendant, was so far under the dominion of passion, in consequence of blows inflicted upon or indignities offered to his person by the deceased, as to make him regardless of the admonitions of reason and incapable of thinking coolly of the nature and consequences of his act, the verdict should be that the defendant is guilty of manslaughter in the fourth degree. You must bear in mind in this connection that it is the passion resulting from the provocation named above, not the provocation itself, which reduces the grade of the offense from murder to manslaughter. Consequently, although you may believe that there may have been the necessary provocation according to the instructions to produce a passion such as is described in this instruction, still if such provocation did not produce such passion, or having produced it there was sufficient time for the blood to cool before the killing, there is in the act of killing no grade of the offense below that of murder in the first degree. And the court further instructs you that whether a provocation such as is described in this instruction was or was not given the defendant, you must determine. If you find that such provocation was given, you must then determine whether it produced the passion necessary to reduce the grade of the offense, and in case you find that the provocation did produce such passion you must then determine whether sufficient time elapsed between the production of such passion and the killing for the blood to cool.

3. If you shall believe and find from the evidence that the defendant, in the manner and by the means named in the indictment, assaulted and wounded the deceased,

[80 Mo. 69]

Porter Armstrong, but shall also find and believe that in so doing he, the defendant, was acting in the necessary defense of his person, you should not find him guilty of any offense whatever. To acquit on the ground of self-defense it must appear that a party was apprehensive, in consequence of the acts of the deceased, that injury of a bodily nature to himself was impending and about to fall on him, and that the taking of the life of the deceased was, under the circumstances, apparent or actual, necessary to prevent such injury. If, therefore, you shall believe from the evidence that from the conduct and acts of the deceased at the time he was wounded, by the defendant, (if you find that he was wounded by the defendant,) he, the defendant, had reasonable cause to believe and did believe that the deceased was about to do him some great bodily harm or take his life, and that he, the defendant, had reasonable cause to believe and did believe that there was danger of the deceased executing his purpose and accomplishing his design, and that he, the defendant, wounded the deceased for the purpose of preventing such execution and such accomplishment, the verdict should be that the defendant is not guilty, because such wounding, under such circumstances, is justifiable in law because it was done in self-defense. You must observe that in order to acquit on the ground of self-defense it is not necessary that the danger of death or injury to which the defendant believed himself exposed was real or actual, or that it was impending and about to fall on him. It is only necessary that it should appear to you that the defendant so believed himself to be exposed to such danger and that his belief was reasonable, considering the circumstances of the case as proven, and the situation of the parties at the time, and that he acted in good faith upon the situation as it appeared to him and under a real apprehension of danger to himself.

4. The law of self-defense does not imply the right of attack, nor will it permit of acts done in retaliation or for revenge. Therefore, if you shall believe and find from the

[80 Mo. 70]

evidence that the defendant sought, brought on or voluntarily entered into a difficulty with the deceased for the purpose of wreaking vengeance upon him, or if you shall find and believe that he wounded the deceased at a time when he had, because of the acts of the deceased, no reasonable apprehension of immediate and impending injury to himself, and did so from a spirit of retaliation and revenge for the purpose of punishing the deceased for past injuries done him, the defendant, then the defendant cannot avail himself of the law of self-defense, and you should not acquit on that ground. And the court further instructs you that in case you find that the defendant sought, brought on or voluntarily entered into a difficulty with the deceased, it does not matter in the application of the law of self-defense how great the danger or imminent the peril to which the defendant may have believed himself to have been exposed during such difficulty.

5. You should consider any threats which you may believe from the evidence were made by the deceased against the defendant, and give them such weight in determining the nature of the transaction giving rise to the charge for which the defendant is now upon trial as you deem proper. Mere threats, however, will not justify on the ground of self-defense the wounding alleged in the indictment; nor will threats alone warrant the party against whom they are made in attacking or killing the party who made them.

6. The character of the deceased is a proper matter for your consideration, and you should give it such weight as you deem proper in determining whether or not he, by his acts at the time of the wounding, gave the defendant reasonable cause to apprehend such danger as to justify his act of wounding on the ground of self-defense according to the law upon that subject as stated in these instructions. The mere fact, however, that the deceased was a man of bad character, if you believe he was of such character, will not justify the taking of his life.

7. The character of the defendant is also a matter for

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your consideration. The evidence as to his character should be given such weight in explanation of the transaction between himself and the deceased as to you seems proper. But if you shall conclude from all the evidence that the defendant is guilty, you should not acquit him because you may believe that he has heretofore been a person of good repute.

8. You are sole judges as to the weight of evidence and the credibility of witnesses, and if you believe that any witness has sworn willfully falsely as to any material matter in controversy, you are at liberty to disregard or reject the whole of such witness' testimony. In passing upon the credit of any witness and the weight to be attached to his or her testimony, you should, in connection with all the other facts and circumstances proven, take into account the conduct and appearance of such witness upon the stand, the interest of such witness in the result of the trial, the motives actuating the witness in testifying, the probability of the statements of such witness, and his or her inclination to speak truthfully or otherwise as to matters within his or her knowledge.

9. The statement in writing read to you as the dying declaration of the deceased, Porter Armstrong, is to be received by you as such dying...

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29 practice notes
  • State v. Short, 17,031
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • June 22, 1908
    ...912; State v. Parker, 96 Mo. 382, 9 S.W. 728; State v. Brown, 63 Mo. 439, 433; State v. Cable, 117 Mo. 380, 22 S.W. 953; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67, 69; Adams v. People, 47 Ill. 376; Allen v. Com., 86 Ky. 642, 6 S.W. 645; Thumm v. State, 24 Tex.App. 667, 701, 7 S.W. 236; Hollis v. State, 8......
  • State v. Brinkley, No. 39557.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • March 11, 1946
    ...arouse heat of passion and that it was in fact aroused. State v. Robinson, 185 S.W. (2d) 636; State v. Ellis, 70 Mo. 207; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67; State v. Heath, 221 Mo. 565, 121 S.W. 149; State v. Connor, 252 S.W. 713; State v. McKinzie, 102 Mo. 620, 15 S.W. 149. (23) The fist attack ......
  • State v. Boyles
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • August 4, 1921
    ...Johnson v. People, 202 Ill. 53, 66 N.E. 877; 16 C. J. 990, sec. 2398, p. 1029, sec. 2462; Dunn v. People, 109 Ill. 635; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67; McKleroy v. State, 77 Ala. 95; People v. Padillia, 42 Cal. 535; Hughes on Instructions to Juries, sec. 187; Hodges v. O'Brien, 113 Wis. 97, 88......
  • State v. Whipkey, No. 41056.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 13, 1948
    ...this defendant. State v. Cushing, 29 Mo. 215; State v. Miller, 234 S.W. 813; State v. Mounts, 106 Mo. 226, 17 S.W. 226; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67; State v. Waller, 259 S.W. 445. (2) The court erred in refusing to declare a mistrial, when, although the court had previously instructed both ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • State v. Short, 17,031
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • June 22, 1908
    ...912; State v. Parker, 96 Mo. 382, 9 S.W. 728; State v. Brown, 63 Mo. 439, 433; State v. Cable, 117 Mo. 380, 22 S.W. 953; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67, 69; Adams v. People, 47 Ill. 376; Allen v. Com., 86 Ky. 642, 6 S.W. 645; Thumm v. State, 24 Tex.App. 667, 701, 7 S.W. 236; Hollis v. State, 8......
  • State v. Brinkley, No. 39557.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • March 11, 1946
    ...arouse heat of passion and that it was in fact aroused. State v. Robinson, 185 S.W. (2d) 636; State v. Ellis, 70 Mo. 207; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67; State v. Heath, 221 Mo. 565, 121 S.W. 149; State v. Connor, 252 S.W. 713; State v. McKinzie, 102 Mo. 620, 15 S.W. 149. (23) The fist attack ......
  • State v. Boyles
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • August 4, 1921
    ...Johnson v. People, 202 Ill. 53, 66 N.E. 877; 16 C. J. 990, sec. 2398, p. 1029, sec. 2462; Dunn v. People, 109 Ill. 635; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67; McKleroy v. State, 77 Ala. 95; People v. Padillia, 42 Cal. 535; Hughes on Instructions to Juries, sec. 187; Hodges v. O'Brien, 113 Wis. 97, 88......
  • State v. Whipkey, No. 41056.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 13, 1948
    ...this defendant. State v. Cushing, 29 Mo. 215; State v. Miller, 234 S.W. 813; State v. Mounts, 106 Mo. 226, 17 S.W. 226; State v. Vansant, 80 Mo. 67; State v. Waller, 259 S.W. 445. (2) The court erred in refusing to declare a mistrial, when, although the court had previously instructed both ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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