150 U.S. 442
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant appealed a judgment of the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Arkansas, convicting him of accessory to murder.
OVERVIEW: Defendant appealed his conviction of accessory to murder. The lower court found that his presence at the crime scene coupled with facts showing he may have aided or abetted the commission of the crime was enough to convict him. This court disagreed. The court found the lower court erred in failing to instruct the jury to consider whether defendant's words were intended to encourage the commission of the crime. The court further found defendant's presence alone would convict him if the prosecution proved there was a conspiracy between the defendant and the principal. The lower court's instruction that the testimony of witnesses standing one hundred yards away was truthful while the defendant's was false because he had an interest in the case improperly influenced the jury. The court found the lower court should have submitted defendant's explanation of his role to the jury for their careful consideration.
OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment, set aside the verdict, awarded a new trial because the lower court's instructions to the jury were erroneous.
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