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1897 Sodomy Case

The State v. Smith

Supreme Court of Missouri, Division Two

January 19, 1897

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant, a police officer, appealed from a judgment of the St. Louis Criminal Court (Missouri), which convicted him of an attempt to commit and perpetrate the crime of sodomy or buggery upon a 16-year-old boy complainant. Defendant's motions in arrest and for a new trial were overruled and he was sentenced to the penitentiary.

OVERVIEW: The State's testimony tended to show that defendant became acquainted with complainant while patrolling the beat in complainant's neighborhood. On the night in question, complainant and another boy were accosted by defendant who threatened the boys to come with him, conducted them into a lumber yard, and compelled complainant with threats to lower his clothes and lie face down. Then with obscene expressions indicating his detestable desire, he opened his clothing, and attempted to complete the sodomy or buggery act forbidden by the statute. Testimony favored complainant's general reputation for general morality and defendant absolutely denied the story. No error was assigned in giving or refusing jury instructions and no error existed in refusing to strike out evidence of a witness not listed. On appeal, the court was unable to say that the verdict was without substantial evidence to support it. The court could not properly interfere with the jury's findings. Also, the indictment was entirely sufficient where it clearly stated what offense was prohibited by law that the accused attempted to commit and stated some act committed toward the perpetration of such offense.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, which convicted defendant of attempt to commit and perpetrate the crime of sodomy or buggery.

Source: 137 Mo. 25; 38 S.W. 717; 1897 Mo. LEXIS 4

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