Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shepard v. United States case brief

Shepard v. United States case brief summary
290 U.S. 96 (1933)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant sought review of a decision of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which convicted defendant of murder. Defendant contended that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of a conversation between the victim, then ill in bed, and her nurse.

CASE FACTS
Defendant was convicted of the murder of his wife by poisoning with bichloride of mercury. The trial court admitted evidence of a conversation between the wife, then ill in bed, and her nurse. The wife asked the nurse to bring a bottle of whisky that would be found upon a shelf, and said that this was the liquor she had taken just before collapsing. She asked whether enough was left to make a test for the presence of poison, insisting that the smell and taste were strange, and that her husband had poisoned her.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the court reversed. Homicide could not be imputed to defendant on the basis of mere suspicions, though they were the suspicions of the dying. 
  • To let the declaration in, the inference had to be permissible that there was knowledge or the opportunity for knowledge as to the acts that were declared.
CONCLUSION
Conviction reversed because to let a dying declaration in, the inference must be permissible that there was knowledge or the opportunity for knowledge as to the acts that were declared.


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