HARRINGTON V. CALIFORNIA, 395 U. S. 250 (1969)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Harrington v. California, 395 U.S. 250 (1969)

Harrington v. California

No. 750

Argued April 23, 1969

Decided June 2, 1969

395 U.S. 250


Petitioner, who is white, and three Negro codefendants (Bosby, Rhone, and Cooper) were tried for first-degree murder. Petitioner's statements placed him at the scene of the crime. He admitted that Bosby was the trigger man; that he fled with the other three, and that, after the murder, he dyed his hair and shaved off his moustache. Eyewitnesses placed petitioner at the scene of the crime, but some had previously said that four Negroes committed the crime. The three codefendants confessed, and their confessions were introduced at trial. Rhone's confession placed petitioner inside the store with a gun at the time of the crime. Rhone took the stand and petitioner's counsel cross-examined him. Bosby and Cooper did not take the stand, and in their confessions, which mentioned petitioner (not by name, but as "the white guy" or by similar terms), said that they did not see "the white guy" with a gun. All four codefendants were found guilty of first-degree murder, the California Court of Appeal affirmed, and the State Supreme Court denied a petition for a hearing.

Held: Apart from the cumulative nature of the confessions of the two codefendants who did not take the stand, the evidence against petitioner consisting of direct testimony, as opposed to circumstantial evidence, was so overwhelming that the violation of Bruton v. United States, 391 U. S. 123 (which held that the admission of a confession of a codefendant who did not take the stand deprived the defendant of his rights under the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause), was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Chapman v. California, 386 U. S. 18. Pp. 395 U. S. 251-254.

256 Cal.App.2d 209, 64 Cal.Rptr. 159, affirmed.

Page 395 U. S. 251

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