ISAACS V. UNITED STATES, 159 U. S. 487 (1895)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Isaacs v. United States, 159 U.S. 487 (1895)

Isaacs v. United States

No. 609

Submitted October 23, 1895

Decided November 11, 1595

159 U.S. 487


The action of the trial court upon an application for a continuance is purely a matter of discretion, not subject to review by this Court unless it clearly appears that the discretion has been abused.

The court committed no error in charging that the fact that the man killed was a white man might be shown by the statement of the defendant taken in connection with other facts and circumstances.

It is no ground for reversal that the court omitted to give instructions which were not requested by the defendant.

The plaintiff in error, Webber Isaacs, a Cherokee Indian, was indicted, with two others, for the murder of a white man in the Indian country. There were four counts in the indictment, two charging that the murdered man was Mike P. Cushing, and two that he was an unknown white man. No witness who testified saw the act of killing, but it was shown

Page 159 U. S. 488

by the testimony of several witnesses that a peddler, about sixty years of age, with gray whiskers and riding a gray pony, was seen going towards Isaacs' house several days before the body was found. Some days thereafter, within a mile of Isaacs' house and off from the public road, the body of a horse corresponding to the one the peddler was riding was found. The appearances indicated that he had been shot. Near the horse were the remains of a man, with the clothing and flesh nearly consumed by fire. The ground indicated that the body had been dragged from where the horse lay to where it was found, the feet having tied about them what appeared to be a portion of the bridle, which was found cut up. There was evidence that the remains were those of a white man. Under his chin were some gray whiskers unconsumed by the fire. Near the body were found some bills and letters identified as belonging to Cushing. The head was crushed, and there were holes under the arm. Shortly after the killing, several witnesses saw defendant with money.

Defendant admitted that a peddler was at his house on the day that Cushing was last seen alive, and said that he rode away with one Jack Chewey, who told him the next day that he had killed the peddler. He admitted that he had never asked Chewey any questions as to when, how, or where he had killed him, and that he had never told any person that Chewey had told him of the killing. Five witnesses also swore that defendant told them that he and Chewey had killed a white peddler at a time corresponding with the disappearance of Cushing.

The jury found the defendant guilty of murder as charged in the first count of the indictment, and the court sentenced him to be hanged. Whereupon he sued out this writ of error.

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