State v. Williams

Citation88 N.W. 194,115 Iowa 97
PartiesTHE STATE OF IOWA v. G. A. WILLIAMS, Appellant
Decision Date18 December 1901
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

Appeal from Union District Court.--HON. H. M. TOWNER, and HON. W. H TEDFORD, Judges.

DEFENDANT was indicted for murder in the first degree, charged to have been committed in Union county. He made application for a change of venue on the ground of the prejudice of the inhabitants of that county. This application was heard and denied by Towner, J., and such denial forms one of the grounds of the appeal. Trial was had before a jury in a court presided over by Tedford, J., and out of this trial other grounds of complaint grew, which will be noticed specifically in the opinion. Defendant was convicted, judgment pronounced and he seeks a reversal through this appeal.


J. A Penick, Copenhafer & Allen, and Temple, Hardinger & Temple for appellant.

Chas W. Mullan, Attorney-General, and Chas. A. Van Vleck, Assistant Attorney-General, for the State.



--The person killed was a deputy sheriff of Union county. He was shot by defendant on the farm of the latter some two miles from Creston, while in the performance of his duty in attempting to levy a writ of attachment on property of defendant. The application for a change of venue was supported by the joint affidavit of eight citizens of the county, who united in a declaration of belief "that the excitement and prejudice against the defendant in this county is such that he cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in said county." No reasons are given by these affiants for such belief, but many clippings from county newspapers were attached to the application, in which the circumstances of the homicide are set forth in a somewhat sensational manner, and defendant denounced as guilty of cold-blooded murder. An article was also published in the papers setting forth the fact that subscriptions were being taken up in the county for the purpose of creating a fund with which to erect a monument to the dead officer, and giving a list of subscribers, with the amount each had contributed. The state made a counter showing, filing the affidavits of some 90 persons, citizens of the county, and residing in different parts, each of whom makes oath that no such excitement of prejudice exists as would prevent defendant from obtaining a fair and impartial trial in Union county. In addition to what has been said, it is proper to add that defendant, in his affidavit, made a showing that, because of public excitement and feeling in Creston at the time of his arrest, he was taken to the jail of Clarke county and there confined until the time of his trial. The trial occurred some four months after the commission of the crime. A certain discretion is reposed in the trial court in passing upon applications of this kind, and this court does not interfere unless such discretion appears to have been abused. In State v. Edgerton, 100 Iowa 63, 69 N.W. 280, the showing for a change of venue was quite as strong as that before us, and we held that there was no error in overruling it. State v. Weems, 96 Iowa 426, 65 N.W. 387, in some of its features, was a stronger case than the one at bar in favor of a change, yet this court sustained the trial court in refusing it. Outside the affidavit of defendant, there is no evidence of any demonstration on the part of the people of Union county, and his affidavit shows no more than the gathering of a crowd in the city of Creston at the time of...

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