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STATE v. WILCOX.
him to have taken her life. Yet it must be conceded that the relations between them were such as to arouse his evil impulse. What passed between them after she left her sister in the parlor will never be known.
"The various springs by which human motives are supplied are frequently difficult to trace, but perhaps none are more difficult than those having their fountain-head in envies and jealousies which agitate the human heart. . . . In the administration of the criminal law, any fact shedding light upon the motives of the transaction will not be excluded from the consideration of the jury whether it goes to the attestation of innocence or points to the perpetrator of the crime." Hunter v. State, 43 Ga., 483 (523). A man's motive may be gathered from his acts and so his conduct may be gathered from the motive by which he was known to be influenced. Proof that the party accused was influenced by a strong motive of interest to commit the offense proved to have been committed although weak and inconclusive in itself, yet it is a circumstance to be used in conjunction with others which tend to implicate the accused. The defendant had the opportunity and was the last person seen with the deceased. The time which elapsed between the moment that he went out of the door, she following him, and the time he was seen by Owens was sufficient for him to have taken her life. The blow on the head was but the matter of a moment. The defendant left the room in the Cropsey house five minutes after 11 o'clock and deceased immediately joined him in the hall, or as he says, on the porch. He is next seen by Owens at the Ives house about 2500 feet from the Cropsey house at about 11:30, probably, in view of the testimony, ten minutes later. It is in evidence and experience tells us that this distance can be walked by a young man in full health on a cold moonlight night in ten minutes. Defendant says that he was with the deceased on the porch five minutes and afterwards said ten
STATE v. WILCOX.
or fifteen minutes and left her there crying. Ollie Cropsey says that Crawford left the house 20 or 25 minutes after defendant. She went up stairs and went to bed. In a short time she heard her father get up. He testifies that this was about 11:45. All of which tends to show that defendant had left the house a short time after 11 o'clock. Where was he and where was the deceased between this time and his meeting Owens? He says that he left her crying on the porch. Parker says that he passed the Cropsey house at about 11 o'clock and saw near the gate a man and woman walking on the sidewalk. It is not an unreasonable conclusion to draw that the man and woman seen by Parker were the defendant and the deceased. There is no suggestion to the contrary. If so, defendant is contradicted in saying that he left her on the porch. If they were on the street walking, where were they going, what became of her? No one saw her after she left her sister to go into the hall with defendant, unless Parker did, until 37 days thereafter her lifeless body is found 50 yards in the river in front of her father's house with a contused wound upon her left temple. Who the man was seen by Parker, walking 50 steps away from the man and woman, is left to conjecture. It would have thrown much light upon this mysterious case if this man had been called as a witness. Parker says he could have seen the man and woman. The deceased met her fate within this half hour. The defendant is, of all persons in the world, most deeply interested in accounting for his every movement from the moment that he asked deceased to go with him into the hall and the moment he met Owens near the Ives place. There is not the slightest suggestion that any one, save the defendant, had either the opportunity or any motive to take her life or do her harm. There is not a suggestion that she had offended another human being. He says that he told her that he was going to quit her; that he gave her back her picture, that she said she knew
STATE v. WILCOX.
what that meant; that he walked off and left her crying and did not look back. While the conduct of a man under the circumstances surrounding the defendant from the time that he was awakened by Dawson and told that Nellie Cropsey was missing and the time that her body was found, should not be viewed with an eye to detect guilt in every movement, words spoken and expression used, yet such conduct is competent to be considered by the jury to aid them in ascertaining the truth. The defendant's conduct is difficult to understand and interpret viewed from any standpoint. His indifference to the fate of the woman towards whom he had occupied the relation of an accepted suitor for nearly two years and with whom he had been trifling for one month, finally giving to her affections and pride a deadly thrust, by telling her that he was going to quit her, is difficult to understand. His total indifference to the grief of her mother as she appealed to him by the most tender and sacred ties for the sake of his own and the mother of the missing girl, to tell her something to throw light upon the terrible mystery surrounding the fate of her daughter when as we may readily understand her memory is surrounded by suggestions darker and more terrible than death itself, is incomprehensive. Not one word of sympathy or comfort or offer of assistance came from him. When the father makes the final appeal to him, with cold indifference he says: "I have said all that I am going to say and done all that I am going to do." And when he learned that her body had been found and the suggestion is made to him that she had drowned herself because of him, he laughs and indulges in levity. But it is said that he did not flee; that although given every opportunity to do so he remained at home; that he denied knowing her whereabouts, that he said he last saw her on the steps crying. These facts were submitted to the jury and given their proper weight. "It can not be said that the verdict of the jury in this case although founded on circumstantial evidence alone was without evidence or plainly
STATE v. WILCOX.
against the evidence. The circumstances proved pointed with fatal precision to the plaintiff in error, and there is not a circumstance which points to any other person or agent. The theory of suicide finds no substantial support from the proved facts. All the surroundings of the deceased on that dreary and dismal night, remote from human habitation, in that gloomy locality, led away from suicide, without the proved facts indicating violence to her person and plainly destroying the idea of suicide. The jury were the triers of the fact, and they have rendered their verdict of guilty and the court below did not err in refusing to set it aside and grant a new trial." This language used by the court in Cluverius v. Commonwealth, 81 Va., 825, in so far as it applies to the facts in this case, appropriately expresses the conclusion to which we have arrived. We think that measured by the standard prescribed by law, the evidence was properly submitted to the jury and we can not say they have not reached a correct conclusion. Human tribunals can only deal with such cases in the light of such testimony as it is possible to obtain. No man can say with absolute certainty what the very truth of the matter is, but calling to our aid the experience and wisdom of the sages of the law and examining the testimony as it is certified to us, we are of the opinion that it is sufficient to bring the minds of an intelligent and fair-minded jury under the instruction of a learned, just and impartial judge, to the conclusion to a moral certainty that the defendant is guilty. That is the extent of our duty. In the discharge of it we must declare that we find in the record
DOUGLAS, J., concurring only in result. I cannot concur in the opinion of the court as to the weight of the evidence. All that I can say, in justice either to the prisoner or myself, is that an impartial jury has found him guilty upon evidence tending to prove his guilt. Further, I can not go.
CASES DISPOSED OF WITHOUT WRITTEN OPINIONS.
CASES DISPOSED OF WITHOUT WRITTEN
STATE V. JAMES MONDS, from Chowan; Attorney-General, for State; W. J. Leary, Sr., for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
J. W. HERRING V. E. D. LEWIS, from Beaufort; Grimes & Grimes, for plaintiff; Rodman & Rodman, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
B. F. WILLEY V. A. C. L. RAILROAD, from Gates; motion to reinstate defendant's appeal denied. Per Curiam. (W. M. Bond, for plaintiff; L. L. Smith, for defendant.)
E. V. ROWE v. S. C. AM. LEGION HONOR, from Beaufort; C. F. Warren, for plaintiff; Hinsdale & Lawrence, for de fendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
C. W. VINCENT V. GARYSBURG MFG. Co., from Northamp ton; T. W. Mason and W. E. Daniel, for plaintiff; Day & Bell, Calvert and S. F. Mordecai, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
D. C. JERNIGAN V. BRANNING MFG. Co., from Bertie; Smith & Lassiter, for plaintiff; Pruden, Shepherd and F. D. Winston, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
G. D. GORDNER V. C. WHITE ET AL., from Craven; H. E. Shaw, for plaintiff; W. W. Clark, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
A. T. DUVAL v. A. C. L. RAILROAD, from Craven; L. J. Moore and Stevenson, for plaintiff; Simmons & Ward, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
R. L. HANFF v. A. C. L. RAILROAD, from Craven; D. L. Ward and L. J. Moore, for plaintiff; Simmons & Ward, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.
L. A. WHITE V. LOCKEY & CANNON, from Craven; W. D. McIver, for plaintiff; W. W. Clark, for defendant. Per Curiam: Affirmed.