State v. Williamson

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtRYLAND
Citation16 Mo. 394
Decision Date31 March 1852
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent, v. WILLIAMSON, Appellant.

16 Mo. 394

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
WILLIAMSON, Appellant.

Supreme Court of Missouri.

March Term, 1852.


1. A. was indicted for an assault upon B. with intent to kill. A. had previously written an obscene letter about his own wife, the mother-in-law of B., out of which the affray originated, in which A. was first attacked. Held, this letter was inadmissible as evidence against A.

2. On a charge of assault with intent to kill, an instruction which so defines the crime as to exclude all consideration whether the assault was committed under circumstances of provocation, or in self defense, is erroneous.

Appeal from St. Louis Criminal Court.

Blennerhassett & Shreve, for appellant.

1. The appellant insists that the court below erroneously admitted a letter, purporting to have been written by the defendant to a third person, in evidence before the jury. This letter formed no part of the case, and nothing in it was material to the trial of the defendant. It was calculated to prejudice the jury against the defendant, and was considered so revoling in its terms and character that the jury retired to read it.

2. The first instruction given for the State by the court is erroneous. By the very language of this instruction all defense is taken from the consideration of the jury, and they are authorized to find defendant guilty, if he shot with intent to kill, even though the witness, Dorsheimer, were attempting to take the life of the defendant when the latter shot.

The last instruction asked by defendant, and refused, ought

[16 Mo. 395]

to have been given. The court erred in refusing a new trial upon the facts in this case and the law. The entire evidence shows a case of self-defense, and the party was convicted under excitement, the result of the admission of scandalous and irrelevant matter.

Lackland, for State.

The court did not err in admitting the letter in evidence. It was competent to show the position of the witness, Dorsheimer, to explain the reason why Dorsheimer went to the door to speak to defendant, and why Dorsheimer should tell him it was necessary for him to seek other lodgings.

The letter is shown to the defendant at the door, when and where a conversation is had concerning its contents. The difficulty originated in regard to the contents of the letter. The letter, therefore, and its contents, are a part of the res gestæ.

The court did not err in permitting the jury to retire into the jury room and there read the letter to themselves. The obscenity of its contents is a sufficient reason for the action of the court. The defendant consented that the jury might retire and read the letter to themselves. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that the letter was irrelevant, and for that reason was incompetent, this is no reason why a new trial should have been granted in this case.

The guilt of defendant, as charged in second count of the indictment, was clearly established by proof in the cause, other than the letter. “The mere admission of objectionable evidence will not be a sufficient cause for sending a case back for a new trial, when the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict without the objectionable testimony.” Stephens v. Crawford, 1 Kelly, 574, 580; State v. Engle, 1 Zabriskie (N. J.) Rep. 347; State v. Ford, 3 Strobh. (S. C.) Rep. 517, 526, note.

There is no error in the...

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4 practice notes
  • State v. McDonald
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 31, 1877
    ...case affirmatively, or the defendant must be acquitted. State v. McBride, 19 Mo. 239; State v. Stewart, 29 Mo. 419 ;State v. Williamson, 16 Mo. 394. [67 Mo. 15]J. L. Smith, Attorney-General, for the State. 1. Although the indictment was insufficient under the 29th section, yet it was suffic......
  • State v. Leach, 14449.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 3, 1917
    ...counsel for appellant in his attack upon this instruction. One of the cases cited in support of this contention is State v. Williamson, 16 Mo. 394. All that is there said about the instructions is that they do not put the case fairly to the jury. State v. Young, 36 Mo. App. 517, is also cit......
  • State v. Hays
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 31, 1856
    ...the crime below that degree. This is not the law. (State v. Dunn, 18 Mo. 423; 2 Grattan, 594; Wright, 20; 1 McCord, 449; 10 Johns. 365; 16 Mo. 394; 1 Greenl. Ev. § 201.) VII. The instructions asked by the defendant ought to have been given. Gardenhire, (attorney general,) for the State. I. ......
  • State v. Cruise
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 31, 1852
    ...courts, so far as regards the duty of appellate courts. We will not interfere with the finding of the facts, unless manifest injustice [16 Mo. 394]and wrong have been done. Nor will we control the discretion of the lower courts, but in cases “strong and unequivocal.” We think the lower cour......
4 cases
  • State v. McDonald
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • October 31, 1877
    ...case affirmatively, or the defendant must be acquitted. State v. McBride, 19 Mo. 239; State v. Stewart, 29 Mo. 419 ;State v. Williamson, 16 Mo. 394. [67 Mo. 15]J. L. Smith, Attorney-General, for the State. 1. Although the indictment was insufficient under the 29th section, yet it was suffic......
  • State v. Leach, No. 14449.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 3, 1917
    ...counsel for appellant in his attack upon this instruction. One of the cases cited in support of this contention is State v. Williamson, 16 Mo. 394. All that is there said about the instructions is that they do not put the case fairly to the jury. State v. Young, 36 Mo. App. 517, is also cit......
  • State v. Hays
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 31, 1856
    ...the crime below that degree. This is not the law. (State v. Dunn, 18 Mo. 423; 2 Grattan, 594; Wright, 20; 1 McCord, 449; 10 Johns. 365; 16 Mo. 394; 1 Greenl. Ev. § 201.) VII. The instructions asked by the defendant ought to have been given. Gardenhire, (attorney general,) for the State. I. ......
  • State v. Cruise
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 31, 1852
    ...courts, so far as regards the duty of appellate courts. We will not interfere with the finding of the facts, unless manifest injustice [16 Mo. 394]and wrong have been done. Nor will we control the discretion of the lower courts, but in cases “strong and unequivocal.” We think the lower cour......

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