Wilson v. United States, No. 884

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFULLER
Citation40 L.Ed. 1090,162 U.S. 613,16 S.Ct. 895
Docket NumberNo. 884
Decision Date27 April 1896
PartiesWILSON v. UNITED STATES

162 U.S. 613
16 S.Ct. 895
40 L.Ed. 1090
WILSON

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 884.
April 27, 1896.

Wilson was convicted of the murder of one Thatch, both being white men and not Indians, on May 15, 1895, at the Creek Nation in the Indian country, and sentenced to be

Page 614

hanged. There was evidence tending to show that Thatch's body was found in a creek near where Wilson and Thatch had camped together, two weeks before, in a state of decomposition, indicating that deceased had been dead for that length of time. Wilson was arrested the day the body was discovered, and had in his possession five horses and a colt, a wagon, gun, bedclothing, and other property that had belonged to Thatch. When Thatch left home he had no money, except some $30 in cash and a certificate of deposit for $140, issued by the Bank of Springdale, Ark. Wilson, when taken, had about $28, and the certificate of deposit was found, among Thatch's things, in a trunk claimed by Wilson. All of Thatch's clothing was in the possession of Wilson, except a pair of overalls, and the body had on a pair of overalls similar to Thatch's. The bedclothing was bloody, and the blood had passed through the bed, the bloody parts being a foot or more in diameter. A pillowcase belonging to Thatch was sewed over the blood spots on one side of the bedtick, and a flour sack sewed over those on the other. Charred pieces of cloth and some buttons were found at the camping place, and some blood in the ground under where there had been fire.

Wilson claimed that Thatch was his uncle, but Thatch's relatives knew of no such relationship; also, that he had known Thatch for several years, but the evidence tended to show that Thatch had never known Wilson before he was brought to his camp by a boy who had started with Thatch from Springdale, Ark., but concluded to return, and was requested to find some one else to go in his place.

On the day before that on which he was alleged to have been killed, Thatch and Wilson were seen camping, at dark, near the creek, and that night about 10 o'clock two gunshots were heard in that direction, but the body was so badly decomposed that it could not be told whether any bullets had entered it. The head was crushed with some blunt instrument, and there was testimony that an ax found in Wilson's possession had blood on it. Wilson was seen at the camp the next morning at sunrise, but Thatch was not there. Wilson

Page 615

said that Thatch had left about two weeks before the discovery of the body, and that he had heard nothing from him since; told contradictory stories as to where Thatch bad gone; asserted that Thatch owed him, and the indebtedness was liquidated by his purchasing the wagon nd two of the horses; that he bought the clothing after the time he said Thatch had left; that the pillowcase was sewed on the bedtick when he bought it; that Thatch rode away on horseback, though Thatch's saddle was there, the only pair of shoes that Thatch had was there, the plates had been taken from the heels of the shoes, and similar plates were found in Wilson's possession. The body had on no shoes, hat or coat,—only an undershirt, overalls, and a pair of socks. Tracks resembling Wilson's near where the body was found were testified to. Wilson admitted that he had been there, and then said that it was lower down the creek. One witness, after Wilson was put in jail, assured him that he would go and look for Thatch if necessary, and Wilson told him not to go, as it was not necessary. His explanations of the appearances against him, on the stand and otherwise, were inadequate and improbable, and evidence in much detail showed that many of his statements were false.

Wilson called witnesses to show that the blood found on the bedclothes had gotten there from the blood of a prairie chicken which they had killed, and also from the bleeding of sick horses, and that Thatch had been seen in Oklahoma territory several times after the body was found.

Wilson testified, among other things, as set forth in the bill of exceptions, 'that, after he was arrested, he was taken to Keokuk Falls, where a great crowd of people gathered around him, and threatened to mob him, and he was taken before J. B. George, who proceeded to examine him in the presence of the crowd, without giving him the benefit of counsel, or warning him of his right of being represented by counsel, or in any way informing him as to his right to be thus represented.'

On behalf of the United States a written statement, purporting to have been made by Wilson before J. B. George, was offered in evidence, and objected to 'on the ground that it was not voluntary.' Whereupon J. B. George was examined on be-

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half of the government, and testified that he was a United States commissioner; that Wilson was brought to his office at night; that there was a crowd at the door, and talk of mobbing, and he directed him to be turned over to the city marshal to be taken to jail; that he examined him the next day, and that the statement was his statement, as made and written down at the time; that he read the charges to Wilson, and went on and examined him, and he answered the questions; that he was not represented by any attorney; that witness had the questions and answers taken down by others than himself, but did not read them over to Wilson, as he remembered; that it was just Wilson's statement of the case; that Wilson voluntarily made the statement,—that is, he (George) asked the questions, and Wilson went on and answered them; that he did not tell Wilson that he had a right to answer or not as he chose, or advise him as to his rights, or tell him he had the right to be represented by counsel; that there were a dozen or more present; that there had been a talk of mobbing before Wilson was interrogated. The witness said that he hold Wilson that the bedclothes and the ax showed his guilt, but that was not before he made the statement, but at the winding up; that other witnesses were examined, but not in the presence of Wilson. George was asked whether 'the statement was made freely and voluntarily,' and answered: 'Yes, sir; I stated the charge to him, and went on and asked him these questions, and he answered them, and that is what was done. He went on, and made these replies to my questions.' One Edmons testified that he wrote down some of the questions and answers, and did it correctly. The statement was then again offered in evidence, defendant objected, his objection was overruled, the statement admitted, and he excepted. This statement was, throughout, a denial of guilt, but contained answers to questions which were made the basis for contradiction on the trial.

The district attorney offered in evidence a picture purporting to be that of Thatch Defendant objected to its introduction, his objection was overruled, and he excepted.

The court charged the jury, among other things, as follows:

'(1) The law says that, if a man has been killed, and killed

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in such a way as to show that it was done murderously, under the law I have given you defining the crime of murder, then you are to look to see whether the party accused of the killing was found in possession of any of the property of the man killed. If so, that is the foundation for a presumption. It is not conclusive in the beginning, but it is a presumption which you are to look at just as you would look at it, as reasonable men, outside of the jury box. The party so found in possession of such property, recently after the crime, is required to account for it, to show that, as far as he was concerned, that possession was innocent and was honest. If it is accounted for in that way, then it ceases to be the foundation for a presumption. If it is not accounted for in that satisfactory, straightforward, and truthful way that would stamp it as an honest accounting, then it is the foundation for a presumption of guilt against the defendant in this case, just upon the same principle if a certain man is charged with robbery or larceny, and is...

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515 practice notes
  • Knutson v. Ag Processing, Inc., No. C01-3015-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • July 28, 2003
    ...evidence of guilt." Wright v. West, 505 U.S. 277, 296, 112 S.Ct. 2482, 120 L.Ed.2d 225 (1992); see also Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 620-621, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090 (1896); 2 J. Wigmore, Evidence § 278(2), p. 133 (J. Chadbourne rev.1979). Moreover, once the employer's justifi......
  • Corley v. United States, No. 07–10441.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 6, 2009
    ...is that the confession is made freely, voluntarily and without compulsion or inducement of any sort.’ ” (quoting Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 623, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090 (1896) )); Lyons v. Oklahoma, 322 U.S. 596, 602, 64 S.Ct. 1208, 88 L.Ed. 1481 (1944) ; Ziang Sung Wan v. U......
  • Wood v. United States, No. 7863.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 9, 1942
    ...to counsel or cautioned in other respects.10 To support these views, the prosecution relies heavily upon Wilson v. United States, 1896, 162 U.S. 613, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090, and Powers v. United States, 1912, 223 U.S. 303, 32 S.Ct. 281, 56 L.Ed. 448. Neither involved a plea of guilty o......
  • U.S. v. Flaherty, Nos. 80-1782
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 12, 1981
    ...recent theft doctrine-also justifies a determination that Kearns knew that the beef was stolen. As enunciated in Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 619, 16 S.Ct. 895, 898, 40 L.Ed. 1090 (1896), the doctrine is Possession of the fruits of crime, recently after its commission, justifies t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
515 cases
  • Knutson v. Ag Processing, Inc., No. C01-3015-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • July 28, 2003
    ...evidence of guilt." Wright v. West, 505 U.S. 277, 296, 112 S.Ct. 2482, 120 L.Ed.2d 225 (1992); see also Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 620-621, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090 (1896); 2 J. Wigmore, Evidence § 278(2), p. 133 (J. Chadbourne rev.1979). Moreover, once the employer's justifi......
  • Corley v. United States, No. 07–10441.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 6, 2009
    ...is that the confession is made freely, voluntarily and without compulsion or inducement of any sort.’ ” (quoting Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 623, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090 (1896) )); Lyons v. Oklahoma, 322 U.S. 596, 602, 64 S.Ct. 1208, 88 L.Ed. 1481 (1944) ; Ziang Sung Wan v. U......
  • Wood v. United States, No. 7863.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • March 9, 1942
    ...to counsel or cautioned in other respects.10 To support these views, the prosecution relies heavily upon Wilson v. United States, 1896, 162 U.S. 613, 16 S.Ct. 895, 40 L.Ed. 1090, and Powers v. United States, 1912, 223 U.S. 303, 32 S.Ct. 281, 56 L.Ed. 448. Neither involved a plea of guilty o......
  • U.S. v. Flaherty, Nos. 80-1782
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 12, 1981
    ...recent theft doctrine-also justifies a determination that Kearns knew that the beef was stolen. As enunciated in Wilson v. United States, 162 U.S. 613, 619, 16 S.Ct. 895, 898, 40 L.Ed. 1090 (1896), the doctrine is Possession of the fruits of crime, recently after its commission, justifies t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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