State v. Vlack

Decision Date03 February 1937
Docket Number6387
Citation65 P.2d 736,57 Idaho 316
PartiesSTATE, Respondent, v. DOUGLAS VAN VLACK, Appellant
CourtIdaho Supreme Court


1. Defendant in murder prosecution put question of his sanity in issue by plea of not guilty.

2. Citation of authorities in support of requested instructions in murder prosecution held proper, but citation should not accompany instructions to jury room.

3. Denial of continuance requested in prosecution for murder of defendant's wife on ground that counsel had devoted their time to preparation for prosecution for murder of peace officers, that certain witnesses would have to be procured and that counsel would not have time to procure documentary evidence held not abuse of discretion, in absence of allegations as to materiality of evidence, what witnesses would prove, and that defendant used diligence to procure witnesses, and where defendant had counsel for forty-seven days prior to date set for trial.

4. Admissibility of confessions in murder prosecution held for trial court.

5. Whether confessions of defendant in murder prosecution made to newspaper reporter, chief of police, and sheriff were freely and voluntarily made held for jury.

6. Motion to strike all statements made by officers in murder prosecution because they contained confessions made by defendant held too broad, where officers had been called by defendant as his witnesses.

7. Motion to strike all testimony where some is admissible and some not, though overruled, is not a basis for reversal.

8. Requested instructions in murder prosecution which commented on weight of evidence and withdrew defendant's confessions from jury entirely held correctly refused.

9. Fact that defendant in murder prosecution made confessions to newspaper reporter and officers in absence of counsel did not affect voluntary nature of confessions.

10. Where defendant's principal defense in prosecution for murder of his wife, who had not been living with defendant was insanity and changed mental condition at time of alleged killing, cross-examination by state, in attempting to show no such change, in regard to defendant's knowledge of what he was doing when he forced wife to go with him into another state and killed two officers who pursued them held not inadmissible as collateral matter.

11. Purpose of all cross-examination is to weaken or show untruthfulness of testimony of party examined or party's bias or prejudice.

12. Where witness, who testified as to defendant's insanity in murder prosecution, stated that it was necessary to take family history into consideration and gave as an example that a Chinese puzzle cannot be worked without all the pieces counsel's remark when witness mentioned Chinese puzzle again that witness did so whenever he was embarrassed held not erroneous as belittling defendant.

13. Requested instruction defining essentials of first degree murder and stating that deliberation requires cool state of blood and absence of sudden passion caused by lawful or just provocation held properly refused where there was no testimony of heat of passion, cold blood, or any provocation and court sufficiently covered question of premeditation in instruction given by statement that a killing is "premeditated" whenever deliberation or consideration, however short, precedes execution of purpose formed.

14. Requested instruction stating essentials of a voluntary confession and advising jury under what circumstances defendant's confession could be considered held properly refused where matter was covered by instruction given.

15. Requested instruction that state must prove sanity beyond a reasonable doubt where evidence of insanity is introduced and that jury must acquit defendant if they entertained reasonable doubt of his insanity held properly refused where matter was covered in instruction given.

16. Requested instruction that jury were sole judges of weight and credibility of testimony, to be determined from appearance, demeanor, frankness, bias, intelligence, and interest, held properly refused where instruction given in that regard was practically in the same language and was amplified by another instruction on right to reject testimony of witness who wilfully and knowingly testified falsely.

17. Requested instructions that felonious killing proved beyond reasonable doubt is presumed to be second-degree murder and that to elevate offense to first degree murder state must prove that killing was premeditated beyond reasonable doubt and that do fendant must have benefit of reasonable doubt held sufficiently covered by instructions placing burden on state to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, defining reasonable doubt, citing applicable statutes and stating jury's duty thereunder.

18. Requested instruction that jury could not convict defendant alone on his confession, unless it was corroborated by other evidence tending to connect him with offense, and that corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows commission of offense held properly refused where killing was proved absolutely outside of defendant's confession.

19. Requested instruction that jury could not convict defendant alone on his confession, unless it was corroborated by other evidence tending to connect defendant with offense, and that corroboration was not sufficient if it merely showed commission of offense held erroneous, since only slight corroborating facts are necessary to sustain conviction in addition to confessions.

20. Refusal of requested instruction which is partly right and partly erroneous is not error.

21. Instruction that insanity is a disease which prevents a person from understanding nature of act and possible consequences, or renders him incapable of resisting temptation held not in conflict with instruction laying down test of accountability and stating that if defendant had capacity to appreciate character and comprehend consequences of his acts, he was responsible.

22. Requested instruction that temporary insanity at time of killing would be a defense, even though defendant had regained his normal mind, held properly refused, where matter was substantially covered by instructions stating that insanity is a defense and laying down standards for determination of whether defendant was insane.

23. Requested instruction that filing of information gave right to no inference that defendant was guilty and that jury must accept instructions as correct statements of applicable law held properly refused where court charged that information constituted no evidence of guilt, and that verdict should be based on evidence submitted and instructions applicable thereto and on nothing else.

24. Requested instruction in murder prosecution that in determining whether defendant should suffer punishment by death, if he should be found guilty of first degree murder, jury must form determination from all the evidence and all circumstances bearing thereon, held bad because contradictory, and because court can do no more than inform jury of its province and cannot direct or advise as to what should control them on such a question of discretion.

25. Defendant who used only six of ten peremptory challenges and whose counsel on the seventh stated that defense was satisfied with the jury held not entitled to complain that examination of jurors showed prejudice.

26. Requested instruction in murder prosecution singling out defendant as a witness held properly refused.

27. Intent to take life or mental state of having an abandoned and malignant heart is essential ingredient of second degree murder.

28. "Insanity," to relieve from legal responsibility under commonlaw rule, is lack of mental ability to distinguish between right and wrong and know and appreciate moral consequences of one's acts.

29. Requested instruction urging defense of partial insanity to reduce offense from first to second degree murder on theory that persons may not be sufficiently insane to avoid all legal responsibility for acts and yet be so mentally disabled as to be incapable of premeditation and deliberation held properly refused, where, under instructions given, defendant could have been found not guilty, or guilty of a lessor offense, since requested instruction would have required jury to find defendant guilty of second degree murder.

30. Requested instruction urging defense of partial insanity to reduce offense from first to second degree murder on theory that persons may be not sufficiently insane to avoid all legal responsibility for acts and yet be so mentally disabled as to be incapable of premeditation and deliberation held properly refused where neither authority nor testimony offered showed that a mind capable of malice aforethought, which is the essential element of second degree murder, is not capable of premeditation and deliberation.

31. Whether defendant charged with murder of his wife was insane held for jury under evidence.

32. Where jury, after having adjourned, asked assurance that if defendant were found guilty of first degree murder and jury imposed death penalty that defendant would not be put to death if he became insane thereafter, court's response that inquiry was matter not subject to jury's consideration held not erroneous, since defendant's future state of mind could not be considered by jury in arriving at verdict or fixing punishment.

33. Trial court's failure to submit form of verdict whereby jury in murder prosecution could have found defendant guilty of first degree murder without any...

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32 cases
  • State v. Hargraves
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 6 Novembre 1940
    ... ... own behalf, he is subject to the same rules applicable to ... other witnesses and may be cross-examined in regard to all ... matters to which he has testified on his direct examination ... or connected therewith. ( State v. Cox, 55 Idaho 694, ... 46 P.2d 1093; State v. Van Vlack, 57 Idaho 316, 65 ... P.2d 736; State v. Smailes, 51 Idaho 321, 5 P.2d ... 540; State v. Silva, 21 Idaho 247, 120 P. 835.) ... The ... question of the degree of crime is one exclusively for the ... jury, and its determination in this respect will not be ... disturbed when there ... ...
  • State v. Aragon
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 22 Giugno 1984 the circumstances of the particular case or the other instructions given. As this Court noted three years later in State v. Van Vlack, 57 Idaho 316, 65 P.2d 736 (1937), this instruction need not be given if the subject matter is covered in other instructions. This is in line with the gen......
  • Fisher v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 10 Giugno 1946
    ...People v. Cordova, 1939, 14 Cal.2d 308, 311, 312, 94 P.2d 40; People v. Troche, 1928, 206 Cal. 35, 47, 273 P. 767; State v. Van Vlack, 1937, 57 Idaho 316, 360—367, 65 P.2d 736; Sage v. State, 1883, 91 Ind. 141, 144, 145; Spencer v. State, 1888, 69 Md. 28, 41-43, 13 A. 809; Commonwealth v. C......
  • State v. Salhus, 7377
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 9 Gennaio 1948
    ... ... and only the same tests, that are legally applied to other ... witnesses who have testified in the case." State v ... Rogers, supra. The standard as set forth in State v. Rogers ... should be adhered to. State v. Foyte, 43 Idaho 459, ... 252 P. 673; State v. Van Vlack, 57 Idaho 316, 65 ... P.2d 736 ... No ... prejudicial error demanding a reversal appearing, the ... judgment is affirmed ... BUDGE, ... J., concurs ... CONCUR ... BY: SUTTON ... SUTTON, ... District Judge, special concurrence ... ...
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