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1958 Sodomy Case

State of Missouri v. John Wilson Hamilton

Supreme Court of Missouri, Division 1

March 10, 1958

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant appealed a decision of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis (Missouri), which, upon a jury verdict, convicted him of sodomy, denied his motion for a new trial, and sentenced him to two years imprisonment.

OVERVIEW: The victim, a 15-year old boy, testified that he met defendant, who bought him a coke at a tavern. Defendant then took the boy to a hotel where they occupied a room, and defendant committed the crime of sodomy. Defendant argued that the trial court erred in refusing to permit him to explain why he signed a fictitious name to the hotel register. The State had introduced the evidence as tending to prove that defendant possessed a criminal intent. The court held that defendant was entitled to give his reasons for registering under a fictitious name and that it was for the jury to consider the explanation in passing on defendant's guilt or innocence. Further, the rule the State invoked, that it was necessary for defendant to make an offer of proof, was not applicable. The court also held that the trial court erred in admitting the State's rebuttal evidence to the effect that defendant had been seen at the hotel in the company of other men on occasions prior to the date of the offense charged. Defendant had objected that the evidence in rebuttal was on a collateral matter and that defendant had not put his character in evidence. Finally, defendant had preserved the issue for review.

OUTCOME: The court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded the cause to the trial court for a new trial.

Source: 310 S.W.2d 906; 1958 Mo. LEXIS 768

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