State v. Wescott

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtDEEMER
Citation104 N.W. 341,130 Iowa 1
Decision Date11 July 1905
PartiesSTATE v. WESCOTT.

130 Iowa 1
104 N.W. 341

STATE
v.
WESCOTT.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

July 11, 1905.


Appeal from District Court, Cerro Gordo County; Clifford P. Smith, Judge.

Defendant was indicted for the crime of murder. Upon trial to a jury he was convicted of manslaughter, and from the judgment imposed on the verdict he appeals. Affirmed.

[104 N.W. 342]

Blythe, Markley & Rule and W. E. Lamb, for appellant.

Charles W. Mullan, Atty. Gen., and Lawrence De Graff, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.


DEEMER, J.

The state claims that the defendant struck and threw or pushed one George Logue, a barber, through a window of his shop in the second story of a building in the town of Hanlanton, resulting eventually in the death of him, the said Logue. Aside from a confession said to have been made by the defendant, wherein he stated, among other things, that he had trouble with Logue; that Logue was beating him with a chair, and that he struck Logue with his fist or with a quart whisky bottle, and knocked him out through a window––the evidence is wholly circumstantial, and in and of itself insufficient to justify a conviction.

It is claimed that this confession was not admissible in evidence, because abstracted from defendant through fear, promises, and inducements held out to him to secure him to make it. Further, it is argued that the corpus delicti was not sufficiently established; and error is assigned on some of the instructions given by the trial court, and upon its refusal to give certain of those asked by the defendant.

The question most extensively argued is the inadmissibility of the alleged confession. This matter was finally submitted to the jury upon the testimony adduced regarding the character thereof. If the matter was properly submitted to the jury, no fault is found with the instructions relating thereto. That it is proper to submit the question of the character of a confession to a jury when there is a conflict in the evidence and the court is left in doubt on the issue, is the rule in this state. State v. Storms, 113 Iowa, 390, 85 N. W. 610, 86 Am. St. Rep. 380. That case treats the subject of confessions quite fully, and we shall have occasion to refer to it again. Should we find that the court was justified in admitting the confession upon the preliminary showing made to it, then, of course, no prejudice resulted to the defendant from the submission of the matter to the jury. We shall first take up this confession.

Logue died on the afternoon of December 12, 1903. The coroner of the county was notified, and he at once came to Hanlanton, impaneled a jury, subpœnaed witnesses, and proceeded with his inquisition. Defendant was seen in company with the deceased during the day he received his injuries, and he was summoned, with other witnesses, and placed upon the stand. His testimony was very contradictory and unsatisfactory, and he acted, as the coroner said, “as if the whole matter were a huge joke.” There is some conflict in the testimony as to what was said and done that evening, but all agree that at the conclusion of Wescott's examination the coroner told the sheriff, who was there present, to “take this witness, and have him back here in the morning at 8:30 o'clock.” The sheriff then went with the defendant to a hotel, and after partaking of a lunch together the sheriff handed his revolver and knife to a deputy sheriff in defendant's presence, and he and the defendant retired to a room engaged by the sheriff to pass the night. While preparing for bed, the sheriff said to defendant, among other things: “How foolish of you. You remember everything else, but when it comes to the circumstances of the murder your mind is a blank. Why don't you explain everything? Now, as a friend of yours, I want to know. You can tell me. I cannot see how you could kill poor Logue.” To this defendant answered: “I must have had it in for him. You see he interfered with me when I tried to lick Martin Lewis.” The sheriff then went on further, and stated: “Martin, tell me all about it. Supposing three or four men would say they saw you do it. What would you say to that? Clear your mind, and let the world know that you are not a man to do anything like that and then deny it.” The sheriff also testified as follows: “Defendant by this time had got over in bed. I think I made some remark whether he would care if I put handcuffs on him. Defendant said something like that was all right. I put one handcuff on him and one on myself, and I rolled over in bed and went to sleep.” Upon awakening the next morning, the sheriff, while still in bed with defendant, removed the handcuffs, and after they had walked around town for a while the defendant finally said, “I have thought over that matter seven thousand times, and I believe I will make a clean breast of the whole thing.” This was the first time the matter had been mentioned since the defendant and the sheriff retired the night before. The sheriff answered, saying, “That's right; tell the whole truth, and I will respect you.” Defendant then said, “What about the story I gave them last night?” (referring to his testimony before the coroner's jury), and the sheriff said: “What's the difference? Probably you were excited. Probably you remember some things better this morning. If so, tell them so.” They then proceeded to the barber shop, where the inquest was being held, and defendant remarked on the way there: “What about the blind pig? Shall I tell about the blind pig?” To which the sheriff replied, “Yes.” Arriving at the room where the inquest was being held, the sheriff told the coroner and the county attorney, who was present, quoting from appellant's brief: “That defendant wished to see them alone. And after the coroner and county attorney had stepped into a room the sheriff stated that Martin, the defendant, was going

[104 N.W. 343]

to tell all about it, and after stating that the coroner excluded all persons from the room except the county attorney, the sheriff, and members of the jury, and they then proceeded to the taking of Wescott's statement.” Before starting, the county attorney told Wescott that he need not incriminate himself, but did not then say to him that he could refuse to answer and that his silence would not be used as evidence against him. After making this statement, the county attorney proceeded to ask questions of the defendant, and during the course of the...

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27 practice notes
  • State v. Johnson, No. 47455.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 16, 1949
    ...claimed mistreatment on Sunday induced the confession on Monday. See State v. Foster, 136 Iowa 527, 530, 114 N.W. 36; State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 6, 7, 104 N.W. 341; [39 N.W.2d 128]State v. Webb, 239 Iowa 693, 31 N.W.2d 337, 340. See also State v. Hofer, 238 Iowa 820, 828, 28 N.W.2d 475,......
  • State v. Saltzman, No. 47625
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1950
    ...with the confession, it establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was in fact committed by someone. State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 8, 104 N.W. 341, 343; State v. Stewart, 231 Iowa 585, 588, 1 N.W.2d 626; State v. Henricksen, 214 Iowa 1077, 243 N.W. 521; Evans v. U. S., 10 Cir., 1......
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...was a prisoner does not render them inadmissible. State v. Kelso, 198 Iowa 1046, 200 N.W. 695, and cases cited; State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 6, 104 N.W. 341;State v. Storms, 113 Iowa 385, 391, 85 N.W. 610,86 Am.St.Rep. 380;Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 623, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed.......
  • Smith v. United States, No. 14126.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 27, 1958
    ...62 S.E. 565; Hicks v. State, 213 Ind. 277, 11 N.E.2d 171, 12 N.E.2d 501; People v. Klyczek, 307 Ill. 150, 138 N.E. 275; State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 104 N.W. 341; State v. Raftery, 252 Mo. 72, 158 S.W. 585; Hendrickson v. State, 93 Okl.Cr. 379, 229 P.2d 196; Balbo v. People, 80 N.Y. 1 Tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • State v. Johnson, No. 47455.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 16, 1949
    ...claimed mistreatment on Sunday induced the confession on Monday. See State v. Foster, 136 Iowa 527, 530, 114 N.W. 36; State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 6, 7, 104 N.W. 341; [39 N.W.2d 128]State v. Webb, 239 Iowa 693, 31 N.W.2d 337, 340. See also State v. Hofer, 238 Iowa 820, 828, 28 N.W.2d 475,......
  • State v. Saltzman, No. 47625
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1950
    ...with the confession, it establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was in fact committed by someone. State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 8, 104 N.W. 341, 343; State v. Stewart, 231 Iowa 585, 588, 1 N.W.2d 626; State v. Henricksen, 214 Iowa 1077, 243 N.W. 521; Evans v. U. S., 10 Cir., 1......
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...was a prisoner does not render them inadmissible. State v. Kelso, 198 Iowa 1046, 200 N.W. 695, and cases cited; State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 6, 104 N.W. 341;State v. Storms, 113 Iowa 385, 391, 85 N.W. 610,86 Am.St.Rep. 380;Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 623, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed.......
  • Smith v. United States, No. 14126.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 27, 1958
    ...62 S.E. 565; Hicks v. State, 213 Ind. 277, 11 N.E.2d 171, 12 N.E.2d 501; People v. Klyczek, 307 Ill. 150, 138 N.E. 275; State v. Westcott, 130 Iowa 1, 104 N.W. 341; State v. Raftery, 252 Mo. 72, 158 S.W. 585; Hendrickson v. State, 93 Okl.Cr. 379, 229 P.2d 196; Balbo v. People, 80 N.Y. 1 Tha......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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