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State v. Smith

Supreme Court of North Carolina
Jun 1, 1877
77 N.C. 488 (N.C. 1877)

Summary

In Smith v. State (1877), 58 Ind. 340, a prosecution for burglary and larceny in which a conviction for burglary was reversed, this court held that the trial court erred in instructing the jury, in substance, that, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation of the possession of stolen property, the law presumes that the defendant had stolen it — such a presumption being an inference of fact merely, and not amounting to a rule of law.

Summary of this case from Wertheimer v. State

Opinion

(June Term, 1877.)

Indictment — Homicide — Murder — Manslaughter.

1. Homicide is murder unless attended with extenuating circumstances, which must appear to the satisfaction of the jury, and if the jury are left in doubt on this point, it is still murder.

2. If A. assaults B., giving him a severe blow or other great provocation, and B. strikes him with a deadly weapon and death ensues, it is manslaughter.

3. If the provocation from A. is slight, and B. strikes, and it appears from the weapon used or other circumstances that B. intended to kill A. or do him great bodily harm, and death ensues, it is murder.

4. On an indictment for murder, where it appeared that the prisoner and deceased were angrily quarreling and the deceased began to pull off his coat, and prisoner being in striking distance, started to draw his knife, when a bystander interferred [interfered] and carried him out of the house, and prisoner rushed back into the house, asking where deceased was, who answered "Here!" both swearing, and thereupon prisoner ran at him and fatally cut him: Held, to be murder.

INDICTMENT for murder, tried at Spring Term, 1877, of MECKLENBURG, before Cloud, J.

Attorney-General for the State.

J. E. Brown for defendant.


The case is sufficiently stated by Mr. Justice Faircloth in delivering the opinion of this Court. Verdict of guilty. Judgment. Appeal by defendant.


Homicide is murder unless it be attended with extenuating circumstances, which must appear to the satisfaction of the jury, and if the jury are left in doubt on this point, it is still murder. If A. assaults B., giving him a severe blow, or otherwise making the provocation great, and B. strikes him with a deadly weapon and death ensues, the law, in deference to human passion, says this is manslaughter. (489)

If the provocation be slight, and it can be collected from the weapon used or any other circumstances that the prisoner intended to kill or do great hodily [bodily] harm, and death follows, it is murder. The violence flows rather from brutal rage than human frailty. Foster's Cr. Law, 291.

In the present case the killing is put beyond controversy, and there is no pretension that it is excusable or justifiable homicide.

The defendant requested his Honor to charge the jury that, if they believed the evidence, it was manslaughter, and not murder. This was refused, and a verdict for murder was rendered.

The prisoner and deceased were quarreling and using very angry words in the house; the deceased began to pull off his coat, and the prisoner started to draw his knife, being in striking distance of each other. A witness caught prisoner around the body and carried him by force out of the door 4 or 5 feet from where the prisoner was standing. Prisoner immediately rushed into the house with a knife drawn above his head, and asked where was Sam Ross (the deceased), who answered "Here!" both swearing. Prisoner ran at deceased, caught him by the collar, and cut him with the knife, from which he died. This is the material evidence on this point, and we think the case is embraced in the last proposition stated above from Foster.

The provocation was very slight, the attack was violent with a deadly weapon, taking the deceased at an undue advantage, without time to prepare for his defense or an even-handed chance. These circumstances show more than sudden passion. They point clearly to the mala mens.

In S. v. Ellick, 60 N.C. 450, words passed between prisoner and deceased, who were sitting on the doorsill, and prisoner got up, the deceased rose up and reached his hand inside the door to get a stick. As he was turning around with the stick, the prisoner stabbed him with a bowie knife 9 inches long. This was held to be murder. There was a greater provocation than here, and the disadvantage of the deceased was less. (490)

We think the prayer was properly refused.

PER CURIAM. No error.

Cited: S. v. Brittain, 89 N.C. 502; S. v. Mazon, 90 N.C. 683; S. v. Gooch, 94 N.C. 1002; S. v. Jones, 98 N.C. 657; S. v. Byers, 100 N.C. 518; S. v. Whitson, 111 N.C. 700; S. v. Rollins, 113 N.C. 733; S. v. Byrd, 121 N.C. 686; S. v. Clark, 134 N.C. 707, 715; S. v. White, 138 N.C. 716, 723; S. v. Quick, 150 N.C. 824; S. v. Pollard, 168 N.C. 120; S. v. Hand, 170 N.C. 706.


Summaries of

State v. Smith

Supreme Court of North Carolina
Jun 1, 1877
77 N.C. 488 (N.C. 1877)

In Smith v. State (1877), 58 Ind. 340, a prosecution for burglary and larceny in which a conviction for burglary was reversed, this court held that the trial court erred in instructing the jury, in substance, that, in the absence of a satisfactory explanation of the possession of stolen property, the law presumes that the defendant had stolen it — such a presumption being an inference of fact merely, and not amounting to a rule of law.

Summary of this case from Wertheimer v. State

In S. v. Smith, 77 N.C. 488, the objectionable words are used by Faircloth, J., inadvertently and without the slightest reference to the facts of the case or the exceptions, which did not present the question at all, and the same may be said of S. v. Jones, 98 N.C. 651, and S. v. Rollins, 113 N.C. 722.

Summary of this case from State v. Clark

In S. v. Smith, 77 N.C. 488, it is said: "Homicide is murder, unless it be attended with extenuating circumstances, which must appear to the satisfaction of the jury; and if the jury are left in doubt on this point, it is still murder."

Summary of this case from State v. Jones

In Smith, the Alabama Supreme Court construed § 4895 of the 1876 Code, the predecessor to § 12-21-222, as requiring corroboration of only that part of the accomplice's testimony that incriminates the defendant.

Summary of this case from Tinker v. State
Case details for

State v. Smith

Case Details

Full title:STATE v. RICHARD SMITH

Court:Supreme Court of North Carolina

Date published: Jun 1, 1877

Citations

77 N.C. 488 (N.C. 1877)

Citing Cases

State v. Mazon

And if a deadly weapon was used, and the attack indicated a purpose to endanger the prisoner's life or…

State v. Ellick

If A. assaults B., giving him a severe blow, and B. strikes him with a deadly weapon and death ensues, it is…