Gambar halaman

Statement of the Case.

upon these bed clothes, or while he was connected with them in such a way as that the blood was the blood of the murdered man or the missing man.

(3) “Now, another foundation of a presumption is the fact of his false statements.

If a man makes a statement to you today about a transaction, which is one thing, and details to you another one tomorrow, which is something else, and another again, which is soinething else, you necessarily call upon him to explain why he has made these contradictory statements, because you know they are not the attributes of truth; you know they do not belong to the truth, because the highest attribute which it possesses is harmony, is consistency, and it possesses these attributes at all times.

Therefore, if statements in this case before you, which are false, were made by the defendant or upon his side of the case; if they were made by his instigation, and they were knowingly instigated by him, you have a right to take into consideration the falsehoods of the defendant, first to see whether they are falsehoods. Then you are to look at them to see whether he satisfactorily explains to you the making of these false statements, and if he does not they are the foundation of a presumption against him for the reasons I have given you, because if they are not in harmony with nature, if they are not in harmony with truth, if they do not speak the voice of truth, then they speak the voice of falsehood; they speak the voice of fraud ; they speak the voice of crime, for they are not in harmony with that great law of truth which in all of its parts is consistent and harmonious. Then look at these statements and view them not alone, but in connection with the other circumstances in the case - all the other circumstances which have gone before you as evidence – to see whether or not the conduct which is urged by the government as accusatory, as inculpatory, has been satisfactorily explained by the defendant upon the theory of his innocence. If so, then that conduct passes away as proving facts in the case.

It is no longer the foundation as proving facts for a presumption ; but if these explanations are not satisfactory, if they are not in harmony with the truth, the presumption must remain in the

Opinion of the Court.

case, and you have a right to draw inferences from these circumstances I have named.

(4) “The defendant goes upon the stand in this case, and you are to view his evidence in the light of his relation to the case, in the way I have named, and in addition thereto you are to look at all the other facts and circumstances in the case as bearing upon his evidence to see whether it contradicts what he says, and therefore weakens it; whether it is so as to be contradictory and inconsistent from statements made by him at other times; whether it is shown to lack these elements of truthfulness known as rationality, known as consistency, known as naturalness.

"Whether these things are all absent from it, or whether in your judgment it seems to be consistent and probable in itself when you come to look at the story and listen to it and weigh it by your judgment. If it has these attributes they are evidences of its being true. If it hasn't them, but has the opposite, this opposite condition made up of these circumstances is an evidence of its being false."

The defendant saved exceptions to each of the foregoing instructions numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Errors were assigned to the admission of the picture; the admission of the statement; and the giving of instructions.

No appearance for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Solicitor General and Mr. Assistant Attorney General Dickinson for defendants in error submitted on their brief.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

Possession of the fruits of crime, recently after its commission, justifies the inference that the possession is guilty possession, and, though only prima facie evidence of guilt, may be of controlling weight unless explained by the circumstances or accounted for in some way consistent with innocence. 1 Greenl. Ev. (15th ed.) $ 34. In Rickman's case, 2 East P. C.

Opinion of the Court.

1035, cited, it was held that on an indictment for arson, proof that property was in the house at the time it was burned, and was soon afterwards found in the possession of the prisoner, raises a probable presumption that he was present and concerned in the offence; and in Rex v. Diggles, (Wills Cir. Ev. *53,) that there is a like presumption in the case of murder accompanied by robbery. Proof that defendant had in his possession, soon after, articles apparently taken from the deceased at the time of his death is always admissible, and the fact, with its legitimate inference, is to be considered by the jury along with the other facts in the case in arriving at their verdict. Williams v. Commonwealth, 29 Penn. St. 102; Commonwealth v. McGorty, 114 Mass. 299; Sahlinger v. People, 102 Illinois, 241; State v. Raymond, 46 Connecticut, 345; Whart. Cr. Ev. S 762.

The trial judge did not charge the jury that they should be controlled by the presumption arising from the fact of the possession of the property of one recently murdered, but that they might consider that there was a presumption and act upon it, unless it were rebutted by the evidence or the explanations of the accused.

Again, the existence of blood stains at or near a place where violence has been inflicted is always relevant and admissible in evidence. Wharton Crim. Ev. § 778; Commonwealth v. Sturtivant, 117 Mass. 122. The trial judge left it to the jury, if they found that there were blood stains and that the defendant had not satisfactorily explained them, to draw the inference, in the exercise of their judgment, that there was an act of deadly violence perpetrated against a person while upon or connected with the bed clothing. In other words, that the jury might regard blood stains not satisfactorily explained as a circumstance in determining whether or not a murder had been committed.

Nor can there be any question that if the jury were satisfied from the evidence that false statements in the case were made by defendant, or on his behalf, at his instigation, they had the right not only to take such statements into consideration in connection with all the other circumstances of the case in

Opinion of the Court.

determining whether or not defendant's conduct had been satisfactorily explained by him upon the theory of his innocence, but also to regard false statements in explanation or defence made or procured to be made as in themselves tending to show guilt. The destruction, suppression or fabrication of evidence undoubtedly gives rise to a presumption of guilt to be dealt with by the jury. 1 Greenl. $ 37; 3 Id. $ 34; Commonwealth v. Webster, 5 Cush. 295.

The testimony of the defendant in a criminal case is to be considered and weighed by the jury, taking all the evidence into consideration, and giving such weight to the testimony as in their judgment it ought to have. Ilicks v. United States, 150 U. S. 442, 452; Allison v. United States, 160 U. S. 203. The trial judge did not charge the jury to treat the testimony of defendant in a manner different from that in which they treated the testimony of other witnesses, and left it to them to give to his evidence, under all the circumstances affecting its credibility and weight, such consideration as they thought it entitled to receive.

We cannot reverse this judgment for error in either of the instructions complained of.

No ground of objection is specified to the admission of the picture of Thatch, nor is any particular ground disclosed by the record. It was, we presume, admitted on the question of identity, and as such was admissible in connection with the other evidence. Udderzook v. Commonwealth, 76 Penn. St. 340; Cowley v. People, 83 N. Y. 464; Rulof v. People, 45 N. Y. 213; Luke v. Calhoun County, 52 Alabama, 115; Franklin v. State, 69 Georgia, 36. And see Luco v. United States, 23 How. 515.

This brings us to consider the exception taken to the admission of defendant's statement in evidence. The ground of the objection was that it was not voluntary. Although his answers to the questions did not constitute a confession of guilt, yet he thereby made disclosures which furnished the basis of attack, and whose admissibility may be properly passed on in the light of the rules applicable to confessions. Of course, all verbal admissions must be received with caution, though free,

Opinion of the Court.

deliberate and voluntary confessions of guilt are entitled to great weight. But they are inadmissible if made under any threat, promise, or encouragement of any hope or favor. 1 Greenl. Ev. SS 214, 215, 219.

In llopt v. Utah, 110 U. S. 574, 584, Mr. Justice Harlan, delivering the opinion of the court, remarked: “While some of the adjudged cases indicate distrust of confessions which are not judicial, it is certain, as observed by Baron Parke in Regina v. Baldry, 2 Den. Cr. Cas. 430, 445, that the rule against their admissibility has been sometimes carried too far, and in its application justice and common sense have too frequently been sacrificed at the shrine of mercy. A confession, if freely and voluntarily made, is evidence of the most satisfactory character. Such a confession, said Eyre, C. B., 1 Leach, 263, ‘is deserving of the highest credit, because it is presumed to flow from the strongest sense of guilt, and, therefore, it is admitted as proof of the crime to which it refers.' Elementary writers of authority concur in saying that, while from the very nature of such evidence it must be subjected to careful scrutiny and received with great caution, a deliberate, voluntary confession of guilt is among the most effectual proofs in the law, and constitutes the strongest evidence against the party making it that can be given of the facts stated in such confession. 1 Greenleaf Ev. $ 215 ; 1 Archbold Cr. Pl. 125; 1 Phillips Ev. 533–34; Starkie Ev. 73.

“But the presumption upon which weight is given to such evidence, namely, that one who is innocent will not imperil his safety or prejudice his interests by an untrue statement, ceases when the confession appears to have been made either in consequence of inducements of a temporal nature, held out by one in authority, touching the charge preferred, or because of a threat or proinise by or in the presence of such person, which, operating upon the fears or hopes of the accused, in reference to the charge, deprives him of that freedom of will or self control essential to make his confession voluntary within the meaning of the law. Tested by these conditions, there seems to have been no reason to exclude the confession of the accused; for the existence of any such in.

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »