Murder of William R. Carmichael
William Richard Carmichael (Aug 5, 1876 – Oct 16, 1916, buried in Clayton Cemetery) was married to Ethel Davis (Oct 24, 1882 – Nov 29, 1974), the sister of his assailant.
Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas.
STATE OF TEXAS
Jan. 30, 1918.
On Motion for Rehearing, June 12, 1918.
In prosecution for murder, deceased's statement to his wife after the affray that defendant was to blame, was inadmissible.
In prosecution for murder, where defendant objected to whole of deceased's statement to his wife to which she testified, part of it alone being admissible, admission of evidence was not error.
Where special instructions and the court's general charge fully cover every phase of the case on self-defense, other charges on the same issues are properly refused.
In prosecution for murder, where court gives no charge at all on provoking difficulty, he should not give any charge on defendant's right to arm himself in preparation for any attack, or contemplated attack, by deceased upon him.
Appeal from District Court, Panola County; Daniel Walker, Judge.
O.R. Davis was convicted of murder, and he appeals. Affirmed.
J.G. Woolworth, H.N. Nelson, and J.R. Duran, all of Carthage, and Jas. M. Edwards, of Tyler, for appellant.
E.B. Hendricks, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.
That appellant killed deceased by stabbing him with a knife is established by the uncontradicted testimony, and not contested by appellant. His sole defense was self-defense.
were several eyewitnesses to the killing who testified. They varied as to
some of the facts, as is nearly always the case.
Appellant and deceased were brothers-in-law, deceased having been married to appellant's sister for some 17 years, they having five children, one a boy about 10 years old. Appellant and deceased were merchants in the town of Clayton. Their stores were some 75 or 80 feet apart on the same side of the street, with one other store and small vacant spaces between them.
Some 2 or 3 years before the killing some of the witnesses testified that appellant had accused deceased of misappropriating some of the school fund of the school of which they both and another were trustees. Deceased at the time resented this accusation to appellant himself.
Thereafter they continued to pass and repass, and had more or less business between them, but it seems deceased never became cordial towards appellant. The testimony of several witnesses is clearly to the effect that appellant was quite hostile towards deceased, and was to the effect that appellant repeatedly made threats against deceased, even to the extent of what could be regarded as a threat to kill him.
testified that he was present when deceased told appellant that he,
appellant, had accused deceased of misappropriating said school money, and
that at the time deceased said to appellant that he had misinterpreted the
thing from start to finish, and that there was not anything to it; that he
could take his books and show where every nickel had been spent that had
been turned over to him when he took charge; that appellant replied, " Don't
say I have lied; I will separate your head from your body;" and that at that
time he was whittling on a stick with his knife.
Pete Giles testified that about a week or 10 days before appellant killed deceased he, with others and appellant, were about an automobile in the town of Longbranch near Clayton; that deceased passed near by and spoke to witness and perhaps others, not stopping, however. And that after deceased had passed something was said about him, and appellant said of deceased, "That damned son of a bitch had to leave Clayton, or him, one or the other."
testified to substantially the same thing of what appellant said at the
time, except that he did not hear him use an oath in connection with the
remark. The testimony shows an entire absence of any threat by deceased
towards appellant at any time.
Late in the evening, just before appellant killed deceased, the 10 year old son of deceased was out in the street in front of appellant's store, playing in the sand and throwing up sand. Appellant himself swore that it was not specially hurting anything on the inside of the store, but that he did not want him throwing it up any more, and told him if he did not stop throwing it up, he would whip him. He says the boy was like some little boys, a little sassy, and said he was not going to stop it, or as some of the other witnesses said, he replied he did not have to stop it. However, the boy did stop it, and went to his father's store, where his mother was, and told her of the occurrence. He did not tell his father, but told her. She said that his father, then hearing something of it, asked her, and she told him what the boy had said to her. She said deceased did not at once go to see appellant about it, but, after attending to some other matters for a short time, did go over to see appellant.
the eyewitnesses, and so did appellant, in substance, testified that
appellant was standing on the outer edge of his store gallery; that deceased
walked up and stopped several feet from him, and asked him what the boy had
done and what he had said to the boy.
Amos Holt, one of the eyewitnesses who was right at the parties at the time, testified: That deceased "asked Mr. Davis what his boy was doing (Carmichael's boy), and Mr. Davis told Mr. Carmichael that the boy was throwing sand up in front of his (Davis') store. Mr. Carmichael asked Mr. Davis what he had said to the boy, and Mr. Davis said that he had told the boy that if he didn't quit he would whip him and he told Mr. Carmichael that he could whip him (Carmichael) too." That at the time Mr. Carmichael was some 4 or 5 feet from Mr. Davis. That Mr. Davis started off of his gallery onto Mr. Carmichael, putting his hand in his pocket as he went. That Mr. Carmichael caught Mr. Davis when they came together. They slung each other around about twice. Mr. Davis " stuck his knife in Mr. Carmichael, and they separated. They went to the ground after Mr. Davis was striking Mr. Carmichael. After they fell to the ground Mr. Carmichael straightened up from over Mr. Davis." In another place this witness swore as follows:
Mr. Carmichael "asked Mr. Davis what his boy was doing, and at that time Mr. Carmichael was standing right where he had stopped at first; and Mr. Davis told him that his boy was throwing up sand in front of the store. Mr. Carmichael did not move then, but asked Mr. Davis what he had said to the boy, and Mr. Davis told Mr. Carmichael that he had told the boy that if he didn't quit he would whip him, and also told Mr. Carmichael that he could whip him (Mr. Carmichael), too. To give Mr. Davis' exact language, he said: 'I told him if he didn't quit I would whip him, and, God darned you, I can whip you, too.'
At that time Mr. Carmichael was still in the same place. Mr. Davis then started toward Mr. Carmichael, who was something like 3 or 4 steps away, and as he started toward him he (Mr. Davis) put his hand in his pocket, and walked pretty pert; and at that time Mr. Carmichael was not doing anything, I saw him at the time. Mr. Carmichael did not advance or move toward Mr. Davis from the point where he first stopped and asked the question. After they caught each other they slung each other around and around. I don't know when Mr. Davis opened his knife, I didn't see him open it. All I saw him do was to put his hand in his pocket and pull it out when he started on him. When Mr. Davis struck Mr. Carmichael they were standing up together, and when he made this lick he hit Mr. Carmichael in the breast, just this way (indicating)."
further swore: "I saw Mr. Davis strike Mr. Carmichael
in the front part of the body, and by the front part of the body I mean in
here (indicating). I am not mistaken about it and have no doubt about it. I
did not see any lick struck after they were on the ground, and while Mr.
Carmichael was standing over Mr. Davis, there was no lick
Mrs. Carmichael swore that when her husband left their store to go to see appellant, he was not mad, and did not look to be mad. Mr. Holt swore that he was not mad, and did not look angry when he had the conversation with appellant detailed above. Others and appellant himself swore that deceased looked mad at that time, and, as they say, was mad.
The proof was that deceased had no arms whatever, and eyewitnesses, including appellant himself, swore that deceased did not strike, nor strike at, nor attempt to strike, appellant at any time before or during the difficulty.
The different witnesses' detail of the difficulty was to the effect that when appellant ran his hand in his pocket and got out his knife that deceased caught his hands and his arms and only tried to prevent appellant from cutting him. The knife with which appellant killed deceased was shown to have a place at the end where it could be easily and quickly opened.
Appellant cut deceased twice with the knife. One cut was on the arm just
below the shoulder, and severe, being four or five inches long. The other
one was a deep stab in the left breast, making a ghastly wound, penetrating
Mr. Nelson, who was the merchant in the store between that of appellant and deceased, swore that, as Mr. Carmichael walked off from appellant towards his store, he saw he was bleeding in the breast, and asked him what was the trouble, but Mr. Carmichael made no reply.
swore: "I then turned to Mr. Davis, and asked what he meant by
cutting a man up, and he said, 'The damn son of a bitch came over there and
insulted me,' and he turned and went back towards his business;" that he had
a knife in his hand at the time. The testimony of appellant showed that he
then told his son to get his gun out of his store and bring it to him, which
he did, and he remained at the front of his store with his gun.
Willis Lawrence swore that not long after the killing appellant came by his house, called him out and asked him if he got to Mr. Carmichael's before he died, and asked him if he saw a pistol. Witness told him he did not. He swore appellant then said that deceased came up and asked him what his boy had done, and that he told him that he was throwing up sand, and that he told him he would whip him--he was talking about the boy--and that he told him (Carmichael) he could whip him. And he said he (Davis) tried to get out his knife, and did get it out, and that Mr. Carmichael caught his hands and held them, and was pushing him backwards, trying to trip him; that when he fell he fell across him, and that gave him a chance to open his knife, and he said that he cut him across the arm, and that he put his hands on him and jumped up, and that when he jumped up he stabbed him.
Appellant himself swore that he cut deceased twice with his knife; once when he was falling or just as he fell, and the other just after both he and deceased had gotten up. The whole affair from start to finish embraced only a very short period of time and was all one transaction, and occurred at one time.
Immediately after appellant had cut and stabbed deceased, deceased went directly to his store, and died there in a very few minutes and as soon as he reached, there his wife testified he told her "Oh, Mother, he has got me this time. He was to blame. He jumped on me." Appellant objected, as his bill states, "to the witness (Mrs. Carmichael) being permitted to relate to the jury the said purported statements of the deceased upon the ground that the same were merely his conclusions, and were irrelevant, immaterial, and prejudicial to the rights of defendant." The court overruled his objection, permitting her to so testify.
opinion of this court by Judge Ramsey it was held that this testimony was
admissible, saying: "That the declaration was somewhat in the form of a
conclusion is undeniable. As to whether in any case one has acted in
self-defense, or kills another in self-defense, may be a mixed question of
law and fact, and yet it seems clear that, where one in agony or excitement
makes a declaration that he had shot another in self-defense, it is, after
all, something more than a conclusion, and is equivalent to the affirmation
that he had shot his assailant in protection of his own person or his own
life. It is a shorthand rendering of the facts, and is consistent alone, and
embraces, the statement that the act was done, not in aggression, but for
the purpose of warding off or preventing injury or death"--citing a large
number of authorities.
There is also another well-established rule that when substantially the same testimony is given by some other witness to which there is no objection, the admission of other evidence objected to presents no error.
Obie Davis, appellant's witness and son, swore that on the way from where appellant stabbed deceased to his store, deceased said to his wife, "Oh, Ethel, I am murdered." Ethel was the given name of Mrs. Carmichael. Mr. Belk, one of appellant's witnesses, on his direct examination swore that when Mr. Carmichael was going to his store from where he was stabbed by appellant he said to his wife, "Mother, he has killed me." Appellant made no objections to this testimony by either of these witnesses. While not literally the same as, "he got me this time," it is substantially the same.
The judgment is affirmed.