COMMONWEALTH vs. DANIEL M. ROBERTSON

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COMMONWEALTH vs. DANIEL M. ROBERTSON

162 Mass. 90

Studying: Daniel robertson supreme court docket

June 18, 1894 – September 5, 1894

Bristol County

Current: Discipline, C. J., Allen, Holmes, Knowlton, & Lathrop, JJ.

Statute – Switch of Instances and Type of Order within the Supreme Judicial Courtroom – Indictment for Homicide by stabbing with a Knife – Description of Wound – Allegations conformable to Declaration of Rights – Allegation sufficiently stating the Time of Demise – Pictures as Proof.

The St. 1892, c. 127, entitled “An Act authorizing the switch of instances within the Supreme Judicial Courtroom,” was supposed to present to the complete court docket, upon software of a celebration, full energy to find out the place of listening to questions of legislation in any case, together with capital instances, and it doesn’t take away the jurisdiction of the justices earlier than whom the trial is needed to make such prior orders as are approved by Pub. Sts. c. 153, § 16, or by St. 1891, c. 379.

The St. 1892, c. 127, entitled “An Act authorizing the switch of instances within the Supreme Judicial Courtroom,” offers jurisdiction as quickly as questions have been put in kind for listening to, in order that nothing stays to be performed however to make the formal entry of them within the full court docket which Pub. Sts. c. 153, § 15, directs the clerk to make “as quickly as could also be”; and there’s no good cause why they need to first be entered within the county the place the trial is had, after which transferred to Suffolk or another county.

An order of this court docket recited that whereas on a sure date software was made to the Supreme Judicial Courtroom, sitting as a full court docket within the county of Suffolk for the Commonwealth, by the Legal professional Basic, praying that the exceptions in a capital case be assigned and heard by the complete court docket sitting at Boston for the Commonwealth, upon which software the events had been heard by the complete court docket; it was ordered that the questions of legislation arising upon the exceptions be assigned and heard by the complete court docket sitting at Boston for the Commonwealth on a specified day and at a sure hour. Held, that the type of the order was enough, and that the phrases “assigned and heard by the complete court docket sitting in Boston” are equal to “entered and heard by the complete court docket” sitting in Boston.

An indictment for homicide by stabbing with a knife needn’t allege in what means or during which hand the knife was held.

An indictment for homicide, which avers that the loss of life ensued from “one mortal wound” given on the pinnacle of the deceased by a knife, is enough and not using a extra particular description of the wound.

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The provisions of Article XII. of the Declaration of Rights, which safe to the accused individual the precise to have his crime or offence “totally and plainly, considerably and formally, described to him,” solely require such particularity of allegation as could also be of service to him in enabling him to know the cost and to arrange his defence.

In an indictment for the homicide of M. R., the day of the assault was given, the assault leading to a mortal wound was described, after which adopted the phrases “of which stated mortal wound the stated M. R. then and there died.” Held, that the phrases “then and there” associated to the time beforehand said within the indictment because the time of the assault, and that they sufficiently said the time of the loss of life.

On the trial of an indictment for homicide, pictures taken solely three hours after the murder, exhibiting the situation of the premises on the time of the invention of the crime, and verified to the satisfaction of the court docket, are admissible in proof to help the jury in understanding the state of affairs of affairs on the time and place of the fee of the murder; and the truth that the defendant didn’t deny the killing doesn’t have an effect on the competency of the proof.

INDICTMENT, in a single rely, for homicide. The indictment was as follows:

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“The jurors for the stated Commonwealth, on their oath and affirmation current, – That Daniel M. Robertson of New Bedford within the county of Bristol, at New Bedford within the county of Bristol, on the ninth day of September within the 12 months of our Lord eighteen hundred and ninety-three, in and upon one Mary Robertson feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought an assault did make, and with a sure weapon, to wit, a knife, which the stated Daniel M. Robertson then and there held, her, the stated Mary Robertson, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought did strike, lower, stab, and thrust in and upon the pinnacle of her, the stated Mary Robertson, giving to her, the stated Mary Robertson, by the putting, chopping, stabbing, and thrusting in and upon the pinnacle of her, the stated Mary Robertson, one mortal wound, of which stated mortal wound the stated Mary Robertson then and there died.

“And so the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath and affirmation aforesaid, do say that the stated Daniel M. Robertson the stated Mary Robertson, in method and kind aforesaid, then and there feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought did kill and homicide, towards the peace of stated Commonwealth, and opposite to the type of the statute in such case made and supplied.”

Trial within the Superior Courtroom, earlier than Mason, C. J., and Dunbar and Sheldon, JJ., who allowed a invoice of exceptions, in substance as follows.

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Earlier than the jury had been impanelled the defendant filed a movement to quash the indictment for the next causes: 1. As a result of the indictment incorporates no enough allegation or description how the defendant held the knife. 2. As a result of the mortal wound just isn’t sufficiently described. 3. As a result of there isn’t any allegation or description within the indictment upon what a part of the pinnacle the mortal wound was inflicted. 4. As a result of the indictment incorporates allegations of a number of wounds, and it doesn’t sufficiently seem which wound was the mortal wound. 5. As a result of the time of loss of life just isn’t alleged, whether or not instantaneous or not.

The court docket overruled the movement, refusing to quash the indictment, and dominated that the indictment was enough. The defendant excepted. The federal government, in opening its case to the jury, contended that the crime charged was homicide within the first diploma, that’s, homicide with intentionally premeditated malice aforethought, and disclaimed that it was homicide in an try and commit a criminal offense punishable with loss of life or imprisonment for all times, or homicide dedicated with excessive atrocity or cruelty, and said that it might declare a verdict for homicide within the first diploma. The defendant didn’t deny the killing, however contended that it was manslaughter, or homicide within the second diploma.

It appeared that the deceased got here to her loss of life by way of an incised wound on the left facet of the face, inflicted by the defendant with an odd case-knife which had been used within the household as a carving-knife for a number of years, and had been sharpened now and again because it grew to become uninteresting; that there have been upon her physique different incised wounds inflicted by the defendant on the identical time and with the identical knife, to wit, one lower upon the outer a part of the left arm above the elbow and lengthening beneath the elbow, one lower upon the within of the left arm, two cuts again of the precise ear, a lower upon the precise shoulder, a lower upon the brow, and likewise a lower passing by means of the left cheek at a degree within the line of the left nook of the mouth and the left ear-hole, about halfway on that line, being the identical lower first above talked about.

It was contended by the federal government that this final wound, as above described, alone triggered her loss of life. The federal government supplied in proof three pictures, taken about three hours after the murder, which pictures had been numbered one, two,

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and three; numbers one and two being totally different views of the kitchen the place the alleged homicide occurred, and quantity three being a view of the chair and physique within the dining-room. There was proof that the objects proven had been in the identical situation on the time of taking the images as on the time of the killing. The photographer who took them testified that they had been appropriate views on the time they had been taken of the objects within the rooms. The defendant objected to the admission of those pictures and of their inspection by the jury, however the court docket admitted them, and so they had been inspected by the jury, and the defendant excepted.

The court docket, towards the defendant’s objection, permitted these a number of pictures to be taken by the jury into the jury-room, and the defendant excepted. There was proof tending to indicate intentionally premeditated malice aforethought.

The Legal professional Basic, in his closing argument, held as much as the jury the {photograph} numbered three, and stated to them: “If you hear of the neighborhood outraged by a criminal offense of atrocity, of the unspeakable atrocity of this crime, obligation will say to you, you had an opportunity to assist forestall these items. Nay, while you come to the shut of your life, obligation will maintain earlier than you that dreadful image, and can converse to you thru the lips all bleeding and silent, ‘Why did you say that I could possibly be killed in my very own home, doing my obligation, doing no improper, and my crime not be avenged?’”

The jury had been duly and correctly instructed as to the a number of levels of homicide, and had been additional instructed that upon the case as made by the Commonwealth they may not convict the defendant of homicide within the first diploma besides upon proof of intentionally premeditated malice aforethought, and couldn’t convict the defendant of homicide within the first diploma upon the bottom that the homicide was dedicated underneath circumstances of maximum atrocity and cruelty. No exception was taken to any a part of the directions of the court docket, nor any objection to the argument.

The jury returned a verdict of responsible of homicide within the first diploma; and the defendant alleged exceptions.

H. M. Knowlton, Legal professional Basic, (G. C. Travis, First Assistant Legal professional Basic, with him,) for the Commonwealth.

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KNOWLTON, J. The defendant contends that this invoice of exceptions just isn’t correctly earlier than the court docket, and that subsequently it can not now be thought-about. The St. 1892, c. 127, is as follows: “The Supreme Judicial Courtroom, sitting as a full court docket in any county or for the Commonwealth, shall have jurisdiction of all questions of legislation and of all instances and issues at legislation or in fairness, civil or felony, arising in every other county than that in or for which it’s sitting, and which could correctly come earlier than and be heard and decided by the complete court docket sitting for such different county; and, upon an software of a number of of the events, a majority of the justices of stated court docket shall, of their discretion, have energy to order any such questions of legislation, or case, or matter to be entered and heard by the complete court docket sitting in any county or at Boston for the Commonwealth.” Earlier than the enactment of this statute questions of legislation arising in different counties the place the complete court docket is accustomed to sit down would possibly generally be heard earlier than that court docket sitting in Suffolk. Underneath Pub. Sts. c. 153, § 16, such a listening to could also be had by consent of all events filed within the case, or by order of the decide earlier than whom the trial was had, if he “deems the exception or enchantment frivolous, or supposed for delay merely, or that the pursuits of the events or the general public require a extra speedy dedication thereof than could be reached within the phrases established for the county during which the trial is had,” and many others. Underneath St. 1891, c. 379, § 2, and underneath the amendatory statute of 1894, c. 204, exceptions arising on the trial of an indictment for a capital crime could also be “entered and decided both on the legislation sitting of the Supreme Judicial Courtroom held for the county during which they come up, or, upon the order of the justices earlier than whom the trial is had, on the legislation sitting of the Supreme Judicial Courtroom for the Commonwealth.” The defendant’s counsel argued that this final provision is unique, and that St. 1892, c. 127, just isn’t relevant to exceptions arising in a capital case. However we don’t so perceive the legislation. This final talked about statute was supposed to present to the complete court docket, upon software of a celebration, full energy to find out the place of listening to questions of legislation in any case, and it doesn’t take away the jurisdiction of the justices earlier than whom the trial is needed to make such prior orders as are approved by Pub. Sts. c. 153, § 16, or by St. 1891, c. 379.

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It’s also urged in behalf of the defendant that the jurisdiction underneath St. 1892, c. 127, doesn’t come up till after the questions of legislation have been formally entered within the full court docket for the county the place the trial was had, or within the full court docket for the Commonwealth, if the justices earlier than whom the trial was had have made an order for an entry there. However the language is broad sufficient to present jurisdiction as quickly as questions have been put in kind for listening to, in order that nothing stays to be performed however to make the formal entry of them within the full court docket which the legislation directs the clerk to make “as quickly as could also be.” Pub. Sts. c. 153, § 15. There appears to be no good cause why they need to first be entered within the county the place the trial is had, after which transferred to Suffolk or another county. We expect the jurisdiction of the court docket attaches to make an order in regard to the entry as quickly because the questions are ripe for entry, and that it i immaterial whether or not the applying to the complete court docket is made earlier than or after the entry which the legislation requires when there isn’t any software.

The type of the order within the current case is enough. The phrases “assigned and heard by the complete court docket sitting at Boston” are equal to “entered and heard by the complete court docket” sitting in Boston. [Note p95]

The defendant filed a movement to quash the indictment, which was overruled. Of the causes on which the movement was based the fourth was waived on the argument, and the others are as follows: 1. As a result of the indictment incorporates no enough allegation or description how the defendant held the knife. 2. As a result of the mortal wound just isn’t sufficiently described. 3. As a result of

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there isn’t any allegation or description within the indictment upon what a part of the pinnacle the mortal wound was inflicted. 5. As a result of the time of loss of life just isn’t alleged, whether or not instantaneous or not.

1. It isn’t mandatory that the indictment ought to state in what means nor during which hand the knife was held. This was settled in Commonwealth v. Costley, 118 Mass. 1 , 21.

2. We’re of opinion that the indictment needn’t include a selected description of the wound; it is sufficient to allege that it was mortal. In Commonwealth v. Woodward, 102 Mass. 155 , which was an indictment for manslaughter, this topic was totally thought-about, and it was held that there isn’t any good cause for requiring an outline of an incised wound, any greater than of a bruise, and it was stated that if the authorities would help the place {that a} description of an incised wound is critical, “the tendency of recent jurisprudence and laws is comparable to to justify, if to not require, a departure from the previous rule of pleading, in a matter which is, virtually, so almost one among mere kind.” The doctrine of this case meets our approval.

3. What we now have stated in regard to the second objection to the indictment applies additionally to the third. The allegation that the wound was upon the pinnacle of the deceased is enough, and not using a extra particular assertion of the place. Such an allegation, if made particular, needn’t be precisely proved. Commonwealth v. Coy, 157 Mass. 200 , 214, and instances cited. The provisions of Article XII. of the Declaration of Rights, which safe to the accused individual the precise to have his crime or offence “totally and plainly, considerably and formally, described to him,” solely require such particularity of allegation as could also be of service to him in enabling him to know the cost and to arrange his defence.

4. It’s objected that the time of the loss of life just isn’t said with enough accuracy. The day of the assault is given, viz. September 9, 1893; the assault, leading to a mortal wound, is described; after which observe the phrases “of which stated mortal wound the stated Mary Robertson then and there died.” It’s contended that, as an alternative of the phrases “then and there,” the phrase “immediately” ought to have been used. There could be little question that the phrases “then and there” relate to the time beforehand said within the indictment because the time of the assault, and we’re of

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opinion that they sufficiently state the time of the loss of life. The necessary truth which should seem within the indictment is that the loss of life occurred inside a 12 months and a day after the assault which triggered it. Any extra explicit assertion of the time have to be thought to be an immaterial allegation which needn’t be proved as made. The type of the indictment on this explicit is that of the fourth rely, which was accepted in Commonwealth v. Webster, 5 Cush. 295 , 322, and of the third rely in Commonwealth v. Coy, 157 Mass. 200 , 203, and of each counts in Commonwealth v. Holmes, 157 Mass. 233 . See additionally State v. Haney, 67 N.C. 467.

5. The pictures had been correctly admitted. They had been taken solely three hours after the murder, exhibiting the situation of the premises on the time of the invention of the crime, and so they had been verified to the satisfaction of the court docket. They’d naturally be anticipated to help the jury in understanding the state of affairs of affairs on the time and place of the fee of the murder. Blair v. Pelham, 118 Mass. 420 . Randall v. Chase, 133 Mass. 210 . The truth that the defendant didn’t deny the killing doesn’t have an effect on the competency of the proof. The plea was not responsible, and it doesn’t seem that there was any admission till after the Commonwealth had launched its proof; but when the admission was made on the outset, the Commonwealth was not certain to simply accept it and omit the formal proof of that a part of its case. It was entitled to current the difficulty to the jury with all of the proof legitimately bearing upon it.

Exceptions overruled.

FOOTNOTES

[Note p95] The exceptions had been allowed by the justices of the Superior Courtroom and filed within the Superior Courtroom for Bristol County, April 30, 1894. Might 5, 1894, an order was handed, and thereupon despatched to the clerk at Taunton, as follows: “Supreme Judicial Courtroom. Bristol ss. Commonwealth by Indictment vs. Daniel M. Robertson. Order. Whereas, on the fourth day of Might, A. D. 1894, software was made to the Supreme Judicial Courtroom, sitting as a full court docket within the County of Suffolk for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by the Legal professional Basic, praying that the exceptionsin stated case be assigned and heard by the complete court docket sitting at Boston for the Commonwealth; upon which software the events have been heard by the complete court docket. It’s Ordered, that the questions of legislation arising upon the exceptions in stated case be assigned and heard by the complete court docket sitting at Boston for the Commonwealth, on the eighteenth day of June, A. D. 1894, at 9 and one half o’clock within the forenoon. W. A. Discipline, C. J. S. J. C. Might 5, 1894.”

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