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Robbery by intimidation. Before Judge Carpenter. Baldwin Superior Court. January 17, 1957.
1. It is not error to deny a motion for continuance where it does not appear that the motion is not made for the purpose of delay only or that the witness's presence is expected at the next term of court.
2. Testimony of the person allegedly robbed by the defendant as to the appearance of the robber to the best of his recollection is admissible although the witness does not positively identify the defendant as that person.
3. Stolen property found shortly after the crime in the possession of one jointly indicted as an accomplice is admissible in evidence against the defendant where other evidence connects the defendant with such other person as joint perpetrators of the crime.
4. The exceptions to testimony of the defendant's alibi witness elicited on cross-examination are without merit.
5. The defense of alibi, in order to present an issue for the determination of the jury, must be supported by testimony showing the impossibility of the presence of the defendant at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. Evidence thereof must be interposed to the evidence of the State as to the date of the commission of the crime, and not to the date on which it is alleged in the indictment to have occurred. Where the indictment is general, the State may prove the commission of the crime on any date prior to its return within the period of the statute of limitations.
6. The verdict was authorized by the evidence and, having the approval of the trial court, will not be disturbed by this court.
J. L. Carr was jointly indicted in the Superior Court of Baldwin County with Franklin Brooks for robbery of a liquor store, and was separately tried and convicted. The conviction depends entirely upon circumstantial evidence. Mark Gladin, an employee at a liquor store, testified that about closing time on the night of September 16, at about 10:30, a man dressed in a gray suit flecked with black and wearing dark sun glasses entered the door, pointed a gun at him, and made off with the day's receipts, including certain identified checks, and drove away in a red Studebaker of a 1950 to 1953 model. Gladin reported the robbery at once, and a search was made for red Studebakers of these models. One was found about midnight parked behind the Flamingo, a nearby nightclub, which the codefendant Brooks immediately stated belonged to him. A few days later two of the stolen checks appeared with money turned in by Brooks on his insurance debit, which checks he stated had been given him by two negroes, not otherwise identified. Gladin stated positively that he was robbed by a white man, and his description of the size and weight of the man who robbed him appears to have tallied with the appearance of the defendant on trial to the satisfaction of the jury. Two women entertainers positively identified Brooks and Carr as men with whom they spent a portion of the evening at the Flamingo on the night of September 16, and testified that at that time Carr wore a gray suit flecked with black and carried dark sun glasses in his pocket. When one of the girls asked for the glasses he replied that he had to keep them for his business. One of the girls stated that she saw Carr for the first time that night. The other testified that she had previously met him in Vidalia and recognized him at the Flamingo. Later she saw him in jail after his arrest and on that occasion he told her to call his wife, "that she would know what they had him for." According to both these witnesses, Brooks and Carr arrived at the Flamingo about 8 p.m., and sat at the same table; left about 9 o'clock, returned about 11:45 and stayed another hour or so. On each occasion of entering and leaving, one would come in or go out and the other would follow within a few minutes. That Brooks was present on the night of September 16 was also shown by a photograph of him with one of the witnesses taken by the club photographer on that occasion. There was also some evidence that when the robber, who was driving the Studebaker, opened the door on the driver's side there was a noise which might have been a door squeak, and that Brooks' car door on that side did have a squeak in it.
Carr's defense was based entirely on alibi. His statement, supported by the testimony of his brother-in-law, was to the effect that he and his wife had been to the brother-in-law's home on September 16 on the occasion of the latter's birthday, arriving at about 6 p.m., and staying until after 11.
The defendant filed a motion for new trial on the general grounds which was amended by the addition of 8 special grounds, and the denial of this motion is assigned as error.
1. Where movant seeks a continuance on account of the absence of a material witness but fails to show that such application is not made for the purpose of delay only, or that he expects to secure the witness's presence at the next term of court, it is not error for the trial court to refuse the continuance. Cobb v. State, 110 Ga. 314 (1) (35 S. E. 178); Moulton v. State, 18 Ga. App. 285 (1) (89 S. E. 341); Nelson v. State, 84 Ga. App. 596 (1) (66 S. E. 2d 751). Special ground 1 is accordingly without merit.
2. The testimony objected to in special ground 2 is not, as contended by movant, either an identification of the defendant on trial as the person who robbed the witness, or a conclusion that these were the same persons without facts on which to base the conclusion. The witness stated that he could not say he would be able to recognize the robber, because he was scared at the time and because of the dark sun glasses and hat pulled down. He further described the appearance of the robber as best he could, thus leaving it to the jury to decide whether such description fitted the appearance of the defendant. Accordingly, this ground is without merit.
3. It is contended in special ground 3 that it was error to introduce in evidence certain checks stolen during the course of the robbery and later traced to the possession of the coindictee, Brooks. Whether or not this was error depends upon whether or not there was other evidence sufficient to authorize a finding that Brooks and the defendant were coconspirators on the night in question. Burns v. State, 191 Ga. 60 (8) (11 S. E. 2d 350). Conspiracy may be shown by circumstantial evidence, and by inference as a deduction from conduct. Weeks v. State, 66 Ga. App. 553 (18 S. E. 2d 503); Johnson v. State, 204 Ga. 528 (50 S. E. 2d 334). The evidence of the State, if believed by the jury, established that the defendant and Brooks were together immediately before and immediately after the robbery, and that both disappeared during the time the robbery was committed, and this plus other evidence as to the appearance of the defendant compared with the robber authorized an inference that if Brooks was connected with the robbery the defendant was also connected with it. Under these circumstances the checks, which would have been admissible against Brooks on his trial because coming from his possession, were also admissible against this defendant on his trial, other circumstances appearing which suggested a concert of action on the part of both during the time in question.
4. Special grounds 4 and 5 except to a long excerpt from the testimony of the defendant's alibi witness on cross-examination concerning whether or not the defendant and his wife were separated. The defendant's witness had stated that he and his wife spent the evening with them on the night in question, and the State was apparently trying to show (a) that defendant and his wife were separated at the time of the trial and also (b) that they had been separated for a considerable period of time. The right to a thorough and sifting cross-examination belongs to every litigant. Code 38-1705. The rule was applied in Stephens v. State, 16 Ga. App. 144 (3) (84 S. E. 560) to questions asked the defendant's alibi witness on cross-examination for the purpose of testing his memory, the correctness of his recollection, and the probability of his statements. Under the circumstances here it was not error to ask the witness whether the defendant and his wife had not been separated, nor to refuse the motion of defendant's counsel "to rule out any evidence of whether this man lived with his wife on any day except September 16." The questions did not, as contended, place the defendant's character in issue. Nor was it ground for a mistrial, as contended in special ground 6, that during the course of this cross-examination the court questioned the solicitor as to its relevancy, and the solicitor stated to the court that it was his contention that this line of testimony would show the defendant was not living with his wife but was just rambling. As stated, testimony as to whether the defendant and his wife were living together at the time of the robbery bears directly upon the credibility of the alibi witness, who said that they came together to visit him on the occasion of his birthday dinner. Testimony that the defendant and his wife separated at a later time has no such relevancy, except as it tests the recollection and credibility of the witness generally. The statement was made, not in argument to the jury, but in response to a question propounded by the court, and it was a statement, not of fact, but as to the State's contention. No error prejudicial to the defendant such as to warrant a mistrial is shown thereby.
5. Special grounds 7 and 8 complain that the court erred in charging the jury that, the indictment being general and not special, the jury might convict upon proof that the defendant robbed Mark Gladin of the property described in the indictment at any time within the 4-year period prior to the return of a true bill against him. While it is true that where the presentment is general the State need not prove the commission of an offense on the precise date alleged, but may show it to have been committed at any time within the period of limitation before the finding of the indictment ( Clarke v. State, 90 Ga. 448 (2), 16 S. E. 96; Robinson v. State, 209 Ga. 650 (7), 75 S. E. 2d 9), here the date on which the crime is alleged to have been committed and the evidence of the State as to the date thereof coincide. Also the evidence in support of the defense of alibi relates to the same date. Even where the evidence for the State shows a different date from that alleged in a general indictment, the date thereof having no particular materiality to the offense charged, the evidence relating to alibi must relate to the date of the commission of the crime rather than the date as alleged in the indictment. In Fortson v. State, 125 Ga. 16 (53 S. E. 767), relied upon by the plaintiff in error, the charge was construed by the Supreme Court to require the defendant to account for his whereabouts and show the impossibility of his presence at the place of the commission of the offense during the entire period of the statute of limitations instead of only the time and place of the commission of the crime as shown by the evidence for the State. Accordingly, this was held to be error. Here, there is no exception to the charge of in court on the defense of alibi. The exception is to the charge that the jury might convict upon proof that the defendant committed. The crime charged in the indictment at any time within 4 years prior to its return. In order to have so convicted on the evidence before it, the jury must have found that the crime was committed at the time and place alleged in the indictment, testified to by witnesses for the State, and at the time testified to by alibi witnesses for the defense to the effect that the defendant was elsewhere. The charge complained of was in accordance with the law, was applicable, and does not constitute error.
6. As to the general grounds, the evidence, which has been set out in the statement of fact, supra, was sufficient to authorize the verdict. There was direct evidence of the corpus delicti. Circumstantial evidence connected the defendant with participation therein. In assessing this latter, the jury, if it believed (as it must have) the direct and positive evidence placing the defendant in the night club during the evening of September 16, necessarily disbelieved his sole defense of alibi which placed him in another locality during the entire evening. The description of the robber matched that of the defendant and the automobile available to him during his unexplained two-hour absence at the time of the robbery, and a part of the proceeds were traced to the person with whom he was known to have spent the evening except for the two-hour period when the robbery took place, which person owned and used a car that night answering the description of that used by the robber. These and other facts, taken together, were sufficient to authorize the verdict of guilty.
The trial court did not err in denying the motion for new trial.
Judgment affirmed. Gardner, P. J., and Carlisle, J., concur.
George D. Lawrence, Solicitor-General, William A. Rice, Assistant Solicitor-General, contra.
Wilbur B. Nall, W. George Thomas, for plaintiff in error.
Saturday May 23 01:39 EDT

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