State v. Welton, No. 22316.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtWhite
Citation225 S.W. 965
Decision Date01 December 1920
Docket NumberNo. 22316.
PartiesSTATE v. WELTON.
225 S.W. 965
STATE
v.
WELTON.
No. 22316.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 2.
December 1, 1920.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Carter County; E. P. Dorris, Judge.

Frank T. Welton was convicted of murder in the first degree, and he appeals. Reversed, and defendant discharged.

W. N. Evans, of West Plains (Cunningham & Clark, of Eminence, on the brief), for appellant.

Frank W. McAllister, Atty. Gen., and H. P. Ragland and C. P. Le Mire, Asst. Attys. Gen., for the State.

WHITE, C.


On April 29, 1920, in the circuit court of Shannon county, the defendant, Frank T. Welton, was convicted of murder in the first degree, and in due form appealed from the judgment following. He was charged with having murdered his wife, Pearl Welton.

Some time in the spring of 1917, Welton appeared in Shannon county, near the town of Mountain View, which is in Howell county, and purchased a farm consisting of 40 acres. Living on the farm at the time was a man named Tyler, who had a wife and several children, including a daughter named Pearl, at that time about 22 years of age. In September, 1917, Welton married Pearl. Her parents, with the rest of the family, moved to another state. Frank continued to live there with Pearl until she met her death in January, 1919.

In May, 1918, a woman named Carrie Welton got oil the train at Mountain View and went to Frank Welton's home. This woman was 45 years of age at the time of the trial. She stated to one witness, and perhaps to others, at the time of that visit, that she was Frank Welton's sister. She remained at his house two or three days and then left, returning, as she said, to Nebraska from whence she had come. In January, 1919, she again appeared at Mountain View and went to Frank's house, remained there two or three days, when the death of Pearl Welton occurred. Pearl's body was found, soon after life was extinct, in a cistern on the premises, with evidence that she had been choked to death.

It appeared from the testimony of Carrie Welton that her former name was Carrie Hoffland. She had a daughter 21 years of age who appeared as a witness for the state, having come from Kansas City to testify. Carrie had been divorced from her husband, Ole Hoffland, in Iowa, when her daughter, Myrtle Hoffland, was a child 6 years of age. According to the story of Myrtle Hoffland, her mother met Frank Welton in South Dakota after the separation from Hoffland, and the two, Carrie and Frank, began to live together as husband and wife. They afterwards went to Nebraska, where they lived together for several years holding themselves out as husband and wife. Carrie Welton testified that she and Frank had an

225 S.W. 966

agreement to get married, which agreement probably amounted to a common-law marriage. After they had lived together there for 10 or more years, in the spring of 1917 they agreed to divide between them the property which they had. Frank Welton owned 640 acres of land on which they lived. Carrie Welton had received money from her father's estate amounting, she testified, to about $6,000, which she had spent in improvements on the place. At the time of the division of the property a great deal of personal property, consisting of cattle, horses, etc., was on the place. In the division Carrie Welton received the farm and Frank Welton the personal property, which he converted into money and came to Missouri.

As to what occurred between Carrie Welton and Frank Welton on her first visit to the farm in May, 1918, and as to what occurred between them on her second visit before the death of Pearl Welton, the testimony is very meager. It shows only that Carrie Welton arrived on the first visit and remained on the premises two or three days, and about the same length of time on the second visit before the tragedy. The testimony on which Frank Welton was convicted was almost solely that of Carrie Welton. Other witnesses were introduced simply to show the circumstances and previous relations of the parties. She testified to her previous relations with Frank Welton, the places they lived, the property they had, and the agreement of division of the property. She said that Welton came to Missouri with the intention of sending for her; that Frank told her he was not married to Pearl, who was just staying there and would soon go to her parents in Kentucky. She said after she had been there two days, in January, 1919, Pearl asked her if she were Frank's wife. She told her, "Yes." Then Pearl "pitched into me and knocked me down and tried to kill me, or tried to hurt me." She finally got away from Pearl and went to the barn, and while she was in the barn Frank came to the house. She did not see what was done, but when she came back Frank was right by the cistern and told her that Pearl was in the cistern; that the two of them got Pearl's body out, and Frank said "we would have to make up a story to tell the folks when they came, or else we would get into trouble over it." She did not say that a story was made up or that Frank had said anything else, indicating his guilt.

Other witnesses, who appeared at the Welton home soon after the body of Pearl Welton was taken out of the cistern, testified. (The cistern is called a well in the testimony of several witnesses.) At that time Frank Welton was in the house, holding the baby and feeding it milk, and the body of the dead woman was lying on a cot. The clothing of the woman had been removed and was lying on the floor, very wet; her hair was wet. The clothing of the baby also had been removed, and the testimony is conflicting as to whether or not it was wet. The state sought to prove that the baby was not in the well at any time, while it was the effort of the defense to show that it was in the well with its mother; that it had been taken out and its clothing changed on that account. The evidence as to that will be more fully noted later.

It appears that no marks of violence were found on the body of the woman that day, but the next day at the coroner's inquest a mark was observed on the right temple as if from a blow with a hammer, not enough to fracture the skull, but enough to "addle" her and render her unconscious for a few minutes. There were marks on her throat and neck described by the physician as finger prints indicating that she had been choked to death. There were other minor bruises about her arms.

Carrie Welton stated to persons who appeared immediately after the body was taken from the well that she and Pearl had cleaned up the dinner dishes, that Frank went off and she went out to take a walk up the road, walked about 200 or 300 yards, looked back, and saw Pearl standing at the cistern with the baby. When she came back in half an hour she discovered Pearl and the baby in the well. She went to meet Frank, who was returning to the house, and told him Pearl Was in the well. She then described how the two got the baby and the woman out of the well, agreeing with Frank's testimony as to those particulars.

Nothing was shown in the defendant's previous conduct to indicate any ill will against his wife Pearl, or any intention to get rid of her and resume his relations with Carrie Welton, except the statements of Carrie Welton herself, above mentioned. Physicians testified as to the condition of the body and other witnesses to the appearance of things at the house, as stated above, when they...

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14 practice notes
  • State v. Parker, No. 8256
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • April 16, 1964
    ...350 Mo. 75, 164 S.W.2d 458, and cases at footnote 3, p. 464; State v. Gregory, 339 Mo. 133, 96 S.W.2d 47, 51; State v. Welton, Mo., 225 S.W. 965; State v. Prendible, 165 Mo. 329, 65 S.W. 559; State v. Huff, 161 Mo. 459, 61 S.W. 900; State v. Kelsay, Mo., 228 S.W. 8 State v. Dunivan, 217 Mo.......
  • State v. Richetti, No. 35160.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 17, 1938
    ...329, 353, 65 S.W. 559, 566; State v. Bass, 251 Mo. 107, 126, 157 S.W. 782, 787; State v. Edmundson, 218 S.W. 864, 867; State v. Welton, 225 S.W. 965, 968; State v. Gregory, 339 Mo. 133, 143, 96 S.W. (2d) 47, 52. We do not think so. There are inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimo......
  • State v. Gentry, No. 28383.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1928
    ...v. Miller, 191 Mo. 587; State v. Burgdorf, 53 Mo. 65; State v. Davis (Mo.), 190 S.W. 297; State v. Parris, 259 Mo. 437; State v. Welton, 225 S.W. 965; State v. Kelsey, 228 S.W. 756; State v. Keller, 229 S.W. 204; State v. Kellner, 278 S.W. 825; State v. Donnington, 246 Mo. 355; State v. Wal......
  • State v. Wood, No. 40166.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 10, 1947
    ...the law and against the greater weight of all the evidence. It was without sufficient substantial evidence to support it. State v. Welton, 225 S.W. 965; State v. Prendible, 165 Mo. 353, 65 S.W. 566; State v. Huff, 161 Mo. l.c. 487, 61 S.W. 908; State v. Gregory, 339 Mo. 113, 96 S.W. (2d) 47......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • State v. Parker, No. 8256
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • April 16, 1964
    ...350 Mo. 75, 164 S.W.2d 458, and cases at footnote 3, p. 464; State v. Gregory, 339 Mo. 133, 96 S.W.2d 47, 51; State v. Welton, Mo., 225 S.W. 965; State v. Prendible, 165 Mo. 329, 65 S.W. 559; State v. Huff, 161 Mo. 459, 61 S.W. 900; State v. Kelsay, Mo., 228 S.W. 8 State v. Dunivan, 217 Mo.......
  • State v. Richetti, No. 35160.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 17, 1938
    ...329, 353, 65 S.W. 559, 566; State v. Bass, 251 Mo. 107, 126, 157 S.W. 782, 787; State v. Edmundson, 218 S.W. 864, 867; State v. Welton, 225 S.W. 965, 968; State v. Gregory, 339 Mo. 133, 143, 96 S.W. (2d) 47, 52. We do not think so. There are inconsistencies and contradictions in the testimo......
  • State v. Gentry, No. 28383.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 21, 1928
    ...v. Miller, 191 Mo. 587; State v. Burgdorf, 53 Mo. 65; State v. Davis (Mo.), 190 S.W. 297; State v. Parris, 259 Mo. 437; State v. Welton, 225 S.W. 965; State v. Kelsey, 228 S.W. 756; State v. Keller, 229 S.W. 204; State v. Kellner, 278 S.W. 825; State v. Donnington, 246 Mo. 355; State v. Wal......
  • State v. Wood, No. 40166.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • February 10, 1947
    ...the law and against the greater weight of all the evidence. It was without sufficient substantial evidence to support it. State v. Welton, 225 S.W. 965; State v. Prendible, 165 Mo. 353, 65 S.W. 566; State v. Huff, 161 Mo. l.c. 487, 61 S.W. 908; State v. Gregory, 339 Mo. 113, 96 S.W. (2d) 47......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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