Williams v. State

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtSOMERVILLE, J.
Citation1 So. 179,81 Ala. 1
Decision Date27 January 1887
PartiesWILLIAMS and others v. STATE.

1 So. 179

81 Ala. 1

WILLIAMS and others
v.

STATE.

Supreme Court of Alabama

January 27, 1887


Appeal from circuit court, Barbour county.

Indictment for murder.

The grand jury of Barbour county, at the fall term, 1886, found a true bill against John Williams, Shade Scarbrough, Tiola Scarbrough, Dennis Williams, Jim Williams, Will Williams, and Back Lampley, charging them with the murder of Madison Ceasar, by shooting him with a pistol. Said parties, except the last mentioned, were tried on December 4, 1886. The result of the trial was that Shade Scarbrough was found guilty of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to be hanged; John and Dennis Williams were found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sentenced each to the penitentiary for 40 years; and Jim and Will Williams and Tiola Scarbrough were found guilty of murder in the second degree, and sentenced each to the penitentiary for 20 years. The judgment of the court was stayed to await the result of this appeal.

The testimony in this cause, as shown by the record, tended to show that the deceased came to his death by a pistol shot on the sixth of July, 1886, about 11 o'clock at night; that a difficulty took place at about 3 o'clock, on the afternoon of said day, at the cottonhouse on the Parish plantation, between Jim Williams, one of the defendants, and another party; that among those present was John Williams, one of the defendants, who had a gun, and whom deceased ordered off; that different ones of the defendants were together during the afternoon talking about Madison Ceasar, the deceased, in a threatening and unfriendly manner; that during said night they were all at the house of deceased.

One Britt testified that he was at his own house asleep, was awakened by hearing Madison Ceasar's wife calling him, and got up and went to his house; that he found John Williams and Back Lampley at the gate, who cut at him, and tried to prevent his going in; that Dennis, Jim, and Will Williams, and Tiola Scarbrough came out of the house and tried to prevent his going in, but he forced his way in, and found deceased and Shade Scarbrough sitting before the fire. Shade threw something into his face which he took to be a pistol, and asked: "Who is that?" Witness answered: "Shade, this is Joe Britt." The parties outside then coming in, Shade told them not to hurt witness, as he was his friend. Shortly afterwards deceased left the house, but returned in about half an hour, with a gun. He called for Shade from the back door, who asked what he wanted, and, receiving no answer, said he would be there directly. Just before Shade went out he said: "Dennis, you go round the house; I will go round by the chimney." They both went out to the front, and deceased came in from the back door, with a gun in his hand. A struggle ensued for possession of the gun, which was continued into and adjoining room. Shade having returned, went into the latter room, where he shot deceased twice, killing him.

A witness testified that, after the killing, she met all of said parties in the road, about 100 yards from the house of deceased; that Shade was staggering, and seemed drunk; that she asked what was the shooting about, and Shade replied that he "did it; that he had shot Madison Ceasar; that he didn't have a thing in the world against him." She replied, "You are joking." He answered, "No." She asked, "What for?" and he said, "John and these boys got me to do it." John said, "Hush!" and the others said nothing. The defendants drank together during the evening.

The defendants moved to exclude these declarations, which the court overruled.

The court, at the request of the state, gave the following charge: "If the defendants entered into a conspiracy to assault and beat or to kill Madison Ceasar, in this county, and before the finding of this indictment; and, in pursuance of the common design to either assault and beat or kill Madison Ceasar, Shade Scarbrough killed Madison Ceasar, *** the defendant's being near at hand, by shooting him with a pistol, in his own house, and not in self-defense,-the jury cannot acquit any of said defendants." An exception was duly reserved to the giving of this charge by each of said defendants.

The defendant Shade Scarbrough, in writing, requested the court to give the following charge, among others: "(4) If the jury believe from the evidence that Shade Scarbrough was drunk at the time of the shooting, they may further believe that he may have been in such a state of mind as to be totally incapable of entertaining and forming the positive and particular intent requisite to constitute the offense of murder; and, if they so believe, the defendant is entitled to an acquittal of any felony, not because of the drunkenness, but because he was in such a state of mind, resulting from drunkenness, that will negative the facts necessary to a conviction." The court refused to give this charge, to which action of the court an exception was duly reserved.

The first charge requested by John Williams was: "(1) Conspire means to breathe together. A conspiracy to commit an offense is where two or more persons agree together to do an unlawful act. Unless the jury believe, in this case, from the evidence, beyond all reasonable doubt, that John Williams, prior to the homicide, agreed or conspired with Shade Scarbrough, or any other one of the participants in this killing, to take the life of Madison Ceasar, or to do him some bodily hurt, then they must find John Williams not guilty, and, in coming to a conclusion upon this, they can look only to the evidence touching John Williams. They can't look to the fact, if it be a fact, that Madison Ceasar was killed by any one's hands, unless the act of killing connects John Williams with the killing, or to do the deceased bodily hurt." The court refused this charge, and an exception was reserved.

The evidence in this case was very full, and the charges asked and refused many, but the above will sufficiently show the points decided by the court. [1 So. 181]

A. M. McLendon and Jere N. Williams, for appellants.

T. N. McClelland, Atty. Gen., for the State.

SOMERVILLE, J.

1. The question most pressed on our attention, and the one of controlling influence on the merits of this case, is raised by the first charge given by the court at the instance of the state. [1 So. 182]

This charge asserts, in substance, that, if the defendants all entered into a conspiracy to assault and beat or to kill the deceased, and, in pursuance of such common design, one of said defendants did kill deceased by shooting him with a pistol, in his own house, and not in self-defense, the other defendants then being near at hand, all of the defendants would be guilty of murder. Other charges asserting the converse of this were requested by the defendant, and refused by the court.

It must be kept in mind that the defendants are not indicted in this case merely for a conspiracy to commit murder, but as principals in the crime of murder itself. Nor is the case complicated by any inquiry as to distinctions between accessories before the fact and principals in crime, or principals in the first and second degree; the statutes of this state having, in cases of felony, abolished the common-law distinction in this particular by providing that "all persons concerned in the commission of a felony, whether they directly commit the act constituting the offense, or aid or abet in its commission, though not present," are authorized to be indicted, tried, and punished as principals. Code 1876, § 4802; Hughes v. State, 75 Ala. 31.

The general rule is familiar that, where several parties conspire or combine together to commit any unlawful act, each is criminally responsible for the acts of his associates or confederates committed in furtherance or in prosecution of the common design for which they combine. The point of difficulty arises in applying this general principle, when it is sought to ascertain what particular acts come within or are departures from the common design or plan. It is very clear that one may often be responsible for an act, committed either by himself or by a confederate,...

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79 practice notes
  • Morris v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 28, 1906
    ...of it, from the conduct of the parties and all the testimony in the case." Tanner's Case, 92 Ala. 1, 9 So. 613; Williams' Case, 81 Ala. 4, 1 So. 179, 60 Am. Rep. 133; Martin's Case, 89 Ala. 115, 8 So. 23, 18 Am. St. Rep. 91; Gibson's Case, 89 Ala. 121, 8 So. 98, 18 Am. St. Rep. 96; Elmore's......
  • Burns v. State, 6 Div. 965.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 6, 1932
    ...he was called upon to speak and failed to deny the truth of the statements so made and which tended to show conspiracy. Williams v. State, 81 Ala. 1, 1 So. 179, 60 Am. Rep. 133; Campbell v. State, 55 Ala. 80; Brindley v. State, 193 Ala. 43, 69 So. 536, Ann. Cas. 1916E, 177; Scott v. State, ......
  • Stokley v. State, 2 Div. 283
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • December 7, 1950
    ...146 Ala. 66, 41 So. 274; Givens v. State, 8 Ala.App. 122, 62 So. 1020; Smith v. State, 8 Ala.App. 187, 62 So. 575; Williams v. State, 81 Ala. 1, 1 So. 179, 60 Am.Rep. 133; Pierson v. State, 99 Ala. 148, 13 So. 550; Evans v. State, 109 Ala. 11, 19 So. There was no error in overruling defenda......
  • Williams v. State, 3 Div. 772
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 22, 1979
    ...the acts of a confederate are admissible against a defendant, prima facie evidence only of a conspiracy is necessary. Williams v. State, 81 Ala. 1, 1 So. 179 Any word or act contributing to the commission of a felony, intended to incite or encourage its accomplishment, makes one a co-conspi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
79 cases
  • Morris v. State
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • April 28, 1906
    ...of it, from the conduct of the parties and all the testimony in the case." Tanner's Case, 92 Ala. 1, 9 So. 613; Williams' Case, 81 Ala. 4, 1 So. 179, 60 Am. Rep. 133; Martin's Case, 89 Ala. 115, 8 So. 23, 18 Am. St. Rep. 91; Gibson's Case, 89 Ala. 121, 8 So. 98, 18 Am. St. Rep. 96; Elmore's......
  • Burns v. State, 6 Div. 965.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 6, 1932
    ...he was called upon to speak and failed to deny the truth of the statements so made and which tended to show conspiracy. Williams v. State, 81 Ala. 1, 1 So. 179, 60 Am. Rep. 133; Campbell v. State, 55 Ala. 80; Brindley v. State, 193 Ala. 43, 69 So. 536, Ann. Cas. 1916E, 177; Scott v. State, ......
  • Stokley v. State, 2 Div. 283
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • December 7, 1950
    ...146 Ala. 66, 41 So. 274; Givens v. State, 8 Ala.App. 122, 62 So. 1020; Smith v. State, 8 Ala.App. 187, 62 So. 575; Williams v. State, 81 Ala. 1, 1 So. 179, 60 Am.Rep. 133; Pierson v. State, 99 Ala. 148, 13 So. 550; Evans v. State, 109 Ala. 11, 19 So. There was no error in overruling defenda......
  • Williams v. State, 3 Div. 772
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 22, 1979
    ...the acts of a confederate are admissible against a defendant, prima facie evidence only of a conspiracy is necessary. Williams v. State, 81 Ala. 1, 1 So. 179 Any word or act contributing to the commission of a felony, intended to incite or encourage its accomplishment, makes one a co-conspi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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