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Lawskills.com Georgia Caselaw
RICHARDSON v. THE STATE.
17221.
Murder. Before Judge Gower. Crisp Superior Court. June 21, 1950.
CANDLER, Justice.
1. A confession of guilt, freely and voluntarily made by the accused, is direct evidence of the highest character and sufficient to authorize a verdict of guilty on a charge of murder, when corroborated by proof of the corpus delicti. Tested by this rule, the verdict in the instant case is abundantly supported by evidence, and, accordingly, the general grounds of the motion for new trial are without merit.
2. A ground of a motion for new trial complaining of the court's failure to charge on the law of manslaughter is too vague and indefinite to present any question for determination by this court.
3. It is declared in the Code that drunkenness shall not be an excuse for any crime or misdemeanor unless it was occasioned by the fraud, artifice, or contrivance of another person for the purpose of having a crime perpetrated. In the circumstances of this case, a failure to charge on the subject of drunkenness as an excuse for crime was not error. Voluntary intoxication is no excuse for crime.
Jimmie Richardson was indicted in Crisp County for the murder of Grace Burston. He was tried, convicted of the offense charged, and sentenced to be electrocuted. He excepts to the judgment overruling his amended motion for new trial.
The State's evidence tended to establish the following facts: The accused and the deceased had not been "living together" for about four months prior to her death. They had "quarreled," and he had arranged with "another woman to do his cooking." On his invitation, the deceased went to his home on the night of April 14, 1950, to read some telegrams. No one saw her alive afterwards. The accused was questioned about her absence by the Sheriff of Crisp County, the City of Cordele's Chief of Police, and an agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He first denied any knowledge of her whereabouts, but later stated, freely and voluntarily, that he killed her at his home in the City of Cordele on the night of April 14, 1950, by first striking her on the head with a stick of wood and later with a smoothing iron. He then mutilated her body with his pocket knife, burned part of it in his fireplace; but, not being able to dispose of it completely that way, he put the burned body in a burlap bag, hauled it by truck some 12 to 14 miles away, and threw it in the river. He agreed to, and voluntarily went with the officers to the river and pointed out the place where he threw it in. Her decomposed and mutilated body was recovered from the river a short distance down stream from the place pointed out by the accused, and was positively identified as the remains of Grace Burston by a physician witness, who testified that he had personally known her. The accused told the investigating officers that he did not know why he killed her; that he had not planned to; and that there had not been any fight between them. The officers testified that the accused when taken into custody had a bruised place on his forehead, but they and another witness for the State testified that he told them that he hurt his head on a door. The sheriff also testified that the accused told him voluntarily that he was drinking, but not drunk, at the time of the killing; that the deceased was not drinking; that she did not hit him; and that he offered no excuse or justification for the homicide.
The defendant offered no testimony, but in his statement to the jury said: "I did not intend to kill my wife. I was drinking and just about drunk, I and her both, and we got into an argument and I don't know what happened. I did not intend to kill her. I did not intend to do her no harm at all. What happened I hardly know. It was not my intention to do it. Sometime before day I began to realize what I had did. I tried to cover up from the law . . . I am sorry. I would not have did it for nothing at all, for nothing at all. I was drunk and did not know. The reason when I knew what I really had done was about the break of day or a little before. That is all I know."
(After stating the foregoing facts.) 1. There is no merit in the general grounds of the motion for new trial. The State's evidence, as it appears from our statement of the facts, abundantly proved the crime of murder as charged in the indictment; and this is true because a confession of guilt, when freely and voluntarily made, is direct evidence of the highest character ( Eberhart v. State, 47 Ga. 598; Pressley v. State, 201 Ga. 267, 39 S. E. 2d, 478); and when corroborated by proof of the corpus delicti, as in this case, is sufficient to authorize a conviction. Code, 38-420; Burns v. State, 188 Ga. 22 (3), 28 (2 S. E. 2d, 627); Moore v. State, 193 Ga. 877 (20 S. E. 2d, 403); Reddick v. State, 202 Ga. 209 (42 S. E. 2d, 742), and cases there cited.
2. Special ground 1 of the amended motion for new trial alleges: "That the court erred in failing and refusing to charge the jury upon the law of manslaughter, after being orally requested to so charge by the defendant's attorney, and that said failure and refusal to charge was detrimental to the sole and only defense of the defendant, to wit, that the homicide was without intention to kill and without malice." It is well settled that this ground of the motion is too vague and indefinite to raise any question for determination by this court. "It fails to point out whether the court should have charged on the subject of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter." Miles v. State, 182 Ga. 75 (4) (185 S. E. 286). See also McLendon v. State, 205 Ga. 55 (52 S. E. 2d, 294).
3. Special grounds 2 and 3 complain of the court's failure, without request, to charge on the subject of intoxication as an excuse for crime, and the two grounds are so related that they may be considered together. It is declared in the Code that drunkenness shall not be an excuse for any crime or misdemeanor, unless it was occasioned by the fraud, artifice, or contrivance of another person for the purpose of having a crime perpetrated. Code, 26-403. Concerning the complaint here made on that subject, it is sufficient to say that, if the accused was drunk at the time the offense is alleged to have been committed, his drunkenness was unquestionably voluntary, and, therefore, no excuse for the crime charged. Allen v. State, 187 Ga. 178 (2) (200 S. E. 109, 120 A.L.R. 495); Holland v. State, 191 Ga. 608 (2) (13 S. E. 2d, 347). The jury would know whether, under all of the circumstances, the intoxication of the accused would throw any light on his intention to kill, and there being no request to charge on the subject of drunkenness, the omission to do so was not error. Thomas v. State, 91 Ga. 204 (1) (18 S. E. 305); Emmett v. State, 195 Ga. 517 (7), 543 (25 S. E. 2d, 9). Certainly, under the evidence in this case and the defendant's statement, a failure to charge properly on the subject of drunkenness as an excuse for crime was not error against the accused; ordinarily the omission to do so would be helpful to the accused. Generally a drunken man would not be less likely to intend for his blows to kill than a sober one, but rather more so. These grounds do not show error.
The judgment complained of is not erroneous for any reason assigned.
Judgment affirmed. All the Justices concur.
O. E. Scott and Davis & Friedin, for plaintiff in error.
DECIDED OCTOBER 10, 1950.
Saturday May 23 06:13 EDT


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