State v. Weems

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtGRANGER
Citation96 Iowa 426,65 N.W. 387
Decision Date13 December 1895
PartiesSTATE v. WEEMS.

96 Iowa 426
65 N.W. 387

STATE
v.
WEEMS.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Dec. 13, 1895.


Appeal from district court, Polk county; S. F. Balliett, Judge.

Indictment for murder. There was a verdict of guilty, and a judgment imposing the death penalty. The defendant appealed. Affirmed.

[65 N.W. 388]

W. H. McHenry, for appellant.

Milton Remley, Atty. Gen., Jesse A. Miller, and J. J. Davis, for the State.


GRANGER, J.

1. On the 19th day of May, 1894, one L. B. Ridpath, a passenger conductor, while on his way from his home to his train, in the city of Des Moines, was shot and killed. This defendant, John Hamil, and John Kraut were on the 1st day of June, 1894, jointly indicted for the murder, the offense being charged in the first degree. The cause was as to the defendant Weems called for trial July 9, 1894, resulting in a verdict of guilty of the crime as charged, and the jury recommended the death penalty.

A few facts may appropriately be stated in this connection. On the night that Ridpath was killed, the three defendants, as indicted, were together from about 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening until the killing took place, which was on Third street, near Center. They met on the east side of the river, at a house, and afterwards went to the west side, and visited two or three places together, when they went north on Fourth street to Center street. From the testimony of Kraut, who was a witness for the state, it is made to appear that while on Fourth street, and near Center, Weems said he had to have some money before morning, and said that he must have a suit of clothes in a certain length of time. While on Fourth street, either Weems or Hamil made the remark that he “was going to hold up the first plug that came along.” On Center street they all went east to Third street, and saw one man pass. Weems and Hamil talked of “holding him up,” but it was said: “Them kind of people haven't got no money.” Soon after, Ridpath came along, and Weems and Hamil crossed the street, and met him, and soon Kraut heard a pistol shot, and, looking, saw Weems and Hamil run away, and he crossed over, and saw that Ridpath was killed. Later in the evening, Kraut saw Weems and Hamil at Mrs. Whitcomb's, on the east side of the river, and Hamil inquired if the man was hurt, and he was told by Kraut that he was dead. On the 22d day of May, 1894, three days after the killing, Weems made a confession, which is in the abstract; and in most of the particulars, to the time the three men reached Third street, it corroborates Kraut substantially. This statement is so important that we give the part of it referring to what was done after reaching Center street. It is as follows: “Just as we got to Center street we saw a young fellow going east, on the north side of Center street. Barney said: ‘Shall I stick him up?’ I said: ‘No; he has got nothing. He is nothing but

[65 N.W. 389]

a kid.’ Hamil said: ‘I have a notion to hold him up anyhow. Those are the kind of people that generally have money.’ We then started east on Center street to Third street, and started south on the west side of Third street, when we saw a man going south on the east side of Third street, carrying a satchel. He was about 60 feet north of us. Hamil and myself started diagonally across the street ahead of him, to hold him up, and Kraut was to stay on the west side of the street, and come over and help if he was needed. We got on the sidewalk about 50 feet south of the man that was shot. We walked down the street ahead of him, until we came to a large tree by the side of the walk. Just before we got to the tree, we met a man and woman going north. Hamil was standing behind the tree; I, on the edge of the sidewalk. Just as the man came up to us, Hamil pulled the revolver out of his pocket, and said, ‘Hold up your hands.’ The man threw up his grip, and hit the revolver. As he hit it, it discharged it. Then Hamil grabbed the grip, and started to run. We both ran across the street, and into a blind alley. Hamil cut the grip open. He got one large and one small leather pocketbook, and an ivory-handled revolver, out of the grip.”

With this partial history of the case we may better present some of the questions to be considered.

2. On the 20th day of June, 1894, the defendants in the indictment, Weems and Hamil, made their application to change the place of trial, because (1) the minds of the people of the county had been poisoned and prejudiced against them by the publication, in all the daily newspapers published in the city of Des Moines, of “inflammatory and highly-colored, display-headed, double-headed accounts of what purported to be detailed recitations of the facts of the alleged crime, and connecting defendants with the same,” which accounts are attached to the application as exhibits; (2) because the excitement had reached such a state that violence was threatened, and even attempted, against them, and the officers of the law were compelled to remove them, to protect their lives; (3) because the person killed was a railway conductor, and popular with all classes of railroad men, and the minds of such were especially appealed to, and poisoned and prejudiced against the defendants; and (4) because the lives of the defendants will be in danger of mob violence while on trial in the county. The application, besides being sworn to by Weems and Hamil, is supported by the affidavits of three parties, to conform to the law in such matters. There is also an affidavit signed by 19 others, residents and citizens of Polk county, in which they say that they “believe that the said defendants cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in said county, because of the public excitement against the defendants, because of many inflammatory newspaper articles published in all the papers of said county, concerning the alleged crime of said defendants.” The showing for a change is resisted by an affidavit of J. D. McGarrah, sheriff of said county, to the effect that he was absent from the county when said defendants were arrested; that some of his deputies, as a matter of overcaution, removed the defendants from Polk county on Saturday evening; that he returned on Monday after, and upon investigation to know if it was necessary for them to be kept out of the county, because of passion or feeling of the people of the county, he became satisfied that there was no such feeling or passion; and that on Tuesday he brought them back into the county. He also states that he became satisfied that there was never any danger of mob violence, and that the crowd of people, men, women, and children, that assembled upon learning of the arrest, was composed of curiosity seekers, who were interested in the arrest of persons charged with crime. There were also affidavits signed by 295 inhabitants of Polk county, who say, each for himself, that he is acquainted with the people of said county, and knows their sentiments and feelings in relation to the case, against Hamil and Weems; that there are 100,000 inhabitants in the county; that only a small portion of the people of the county have given any attention to the facts of the case, or have particular knowledge of the case; that most of the people of the county are not only without prejudice, but have no knowledge whatever in relation to the case; and that defendants can have as fair a trial in Polk county as in any other county in the state. The court denied the application, and complaint is made of the ruling.

It will be well to here state that what is represented of the publications as to their being “highly-colored, display-headed accounts” of the affair is true. These exhibits cover about 30 pages of typewritten matter. Some instances of the headings are: “Murderers in Jail;” “John Kraut and John Hamil are under Arrest;” “Former has Confessed;” “It was a Robbery;” “Hamil is Caught;” “All are Captured;” “The Murderers of Conductor Ridpath Languish in Jail;” “Safe from the Mad Mob;” “All in the Toils of the Law before 48 Hours;” “Hamil and Kraut were Run Off to Newton, Iowa;” “From Whence They were Returned to the City To-day;” “Are Again in Jail;” “Sheriffs Guard the Jail;” and others of like tenor. The articles purporting to give the facts are much what the headings would indicate. As to the facts of violence if the cause should be tried in Polk county, nothing more need be said than that the defendant Weems was tried in the county without any such a result, or attempt at it. The application for the change was filed about the middle of June, and Weems, Hamil, and Kraut had been back in the county for some three weeks, and there is not a word in the showing for a change to prove that any person or persons had in any way contemplated

[65 N.W. 390]

violence, and the fact of their return had been announced through the papers by prominent headings. In a legal sense, the same conclusion may be stated as to violence either attempted or threatened before the removal from the county jail. It is true that papers contained statements that a large concourse of people,--a mob,--to the number of 3,000 or more, assembled about the jail; that there were murmurs of lynching; that only a leader was needed to put threats of lynching into execution; and many like statements. These exhibits do not prove the facts as stated in them, nor tend to prove them. They are not evidence of such facts in any sense; nor are they used as such. The facts recited are unverified by the oath of any person. The exhibits are attached to the application, not to prove the facts recited in them, but to show what was put before the people, as indicating the effect upon their minds as to exciting them to violence or creating prejudice. Take these exhibits from the application, and there is not a word from any one, barring, perhaps, that of Weems and Hamil, by construction, that can be construed as meaning that there was danger of violence. The same considerations apply, materially, as to the question of the prejudice...

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29 practice notes
  • State v. Reding, 5845
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 14, 1932
    ...of that fact in the indictment.' State v. Foster, 136 Mo. 653, 38 S.W. 721; Commonwealth v. Flanagan, 7 Watts & Serg. 415; State v. Weems, 96 Iowa 426, 65 N.W. 387; Cox v. People, 80 N.Y. 500; People v. Giblin, 115 N.Y. 196, 21 N.E. 1062, 4 L. R. A. 757; People v. Flanigan, 174 N.Y. 356, 66......
  • State v. Kimball, No. 53564
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 5, 1970
    ...State v. Reid (1925), 200 Iowa 892, 894, 205 N.W. 517; State v. Bower (1921), 191 Iowa 713, 716, 183 N.W. 322; State v. Weems (1895), 96 Iowa 426, 448--449, 65 N.W. 387; State v. Stevens (1885), 67 Iowa 557, 559, 25 N.W. After this statutory requirement was repealed our cases held it was no......
  • State v. Moore, No. 41607.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 12, 1933
    ...192 N. W. 287, 31 A. L. R. 198;State v. Twine, 211 Iowa, 450, 233 N. W. 476;State v. Arnold, 12 Iowa, 479;State v. Weems, 96 Iowa, 426, 65 N. W. 387. Under the facts in the case at bar, it is apparent that the district court continued the cause over the term as requested by the defendants. ......
  • Fogler v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 26, 1928
    ...not reversible error to do so (State v. Cleaves, 59 Me. 298, 8 Am. Rep. 422; State v. Bartlett, 55 Me. 200; State v. Weems, 96 Iowa, 426, 65 N.W. 387; State v. De Witt, 186 Mo. 61, 84 S.W. 956; Ferguson v. State, 52 Neb. 432, 72 N.W. 590, 66 Am. St. Rep. 512; People v. Hayes, 140 N.Y. 496, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • State v. Reding, 5845
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • July 14, 1932
    ...of that fact in the indictment.' State v. Foster, 136 Mo. 653, 38 S.W. 721; Commonwealth v. Flanagan, 7 Watts & Serg. 415; State v. Weems, 96 Iowa 426, 65 N.W. 387; Cox v. People, 80 N.Y. 500; People v. Giblin, 115 N.Y. 196, 21 N.E. 1062, 4 L. R. A. 757; People v. Flanigan, 174 N.Y. 356, 66......
  • State v. Kimball, No. 53564
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 5, 1970
    ...State v. Reid (1925), 200 Iowa 892, 894, 205 N.W. 517; State v. Bower (1921), 191 Iowa 713, 716, 183 N.W. 322; State v. Weems (1895), 96 Iowa 426, 448--449, 65 N.W. 387; State v. Stevens (1885), 67 Iowa 557, 559, 25 N.W. After this statutory requirement was repealed our cases held it was no......
  • State v. Moore, No. 41607.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 12, 1933
    ...192 N. W. 287, 31 A. L. R. 198;State v. Twine, 211 Iowa, 450, 233 N. W. 476;State v. Arnold, 12 Iowa, 479;State v. Weems, 96 Iowa, 426, 65 N. W. 387. Under the facts in the case at bar, it is apparent that the district court continued the cause over the term as requested by the defendants. ......
  • Fogler v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • June 26, 1928
    ...not reversible error to do so (State v. Cleaves, 59 Me. 298, 8 Am. Rep. 422; State v. Bartlett, 55 Me. 200; State v. Weems, 96 Iowa, 426, 65 N.W. 387; State v. De Witt, 186 Mo. 61, 84 S.W. 956; Ferguson v. State, 52 Neb. 432, 72 N.W. 590, 66 Am. St. Rep. 512; People v. Hayes, 140 N.Y. 496, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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