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Rutledge v. State

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 18, 1932

JENNIE RUTLEDGE, Appellant,
v.
STATE, Respondent

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Howard C. Speakman, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Messrs. Cox, Moore & Janson, for Appellant.

Mr. K. Berry Peterson, Attorney General, Mr. Renz L. Jennings, Assistant Attorney General, and Mr. Lloyd J. Andrews, County Attorney, for the State.

OPINION

Page 256

[41 Ariz. 49] LOCKWOOD, J.

Jennie Rutledge, hereinafter called defendant, was informed against for the crime of murder. She was duly tried before a jury, which found her guilty of manslaughter, and she was sentenced to serve from seven to ten years in the state penitentiary. From the verdict and judgment thereon she has appealed.

There are some five assignments of error which we will consider in the light of the legal questions raised thereby.

The first is in effect whether or not the evidence sustains the verdict. In considering this question, we must necessarily state briefly the facts. The evidence, taken in the strongest light in favor of the state, as under our oft-repeated rule we must take it in an appeal of this nature, shows the following facts: Defendant resided in Phoenix, Arizona, together with her son and daughter-in-law and her mother, Alice Pyle, a woman about 85 years old. On the night of April 17th, 1931, defendant was observed by several witnesses cursing and beating her mother and threatening to kill her. The matter was reported to the sheriff's office, and early on the morning [41 Ariz. 50] of the 18th an investigator from the office went to the Rutledge house, where he found Mrs. Pyle lying on a bed, alone in the house and unconscious. She was immediately taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and there examined by two physicians. Her body appeared almost completely covered with bruises, new and old, and many scratches, and she showed some signs of a concussion of the brain. She died on April 19th without having recovered consciousness. It is urged by defendant that the evidence fails to show the beating which the witnesses testified she gave her mother was the cause of the death, but that she died of pneumonia. The testimony of Dr. Mauldin, the county physician, as to the cause of death was as follows:

"Q. Doctor, from your examinations there what would you say caused the condition that you found there on the head and body of Alice Pyle? A. Well, the only thing I could say, that it was caused by some external violence, just what that was I am unable to say.

"Q. Now Doctor, from the examination that you conducted there in company with Dr. Craig, as you say, and from the disclosures that that examination afforded you, what would you say was the cause of the death of Mrs. Pyle? A. The condition that we found, I am of the opinion that her death was immediately caused by the accumulation of fluid in the bronchial tubes, that shut off her breathing, and that was the immediate cause of death. I would say that the contributory, or the cause of this condition, was from the woman being very old and delicate, that the violent blows, if it was blows, that caused the mild concussion of the brain and the various injuries that she had to her body, brought about a condition of shock, and in this condition of shock, a woman with a very weakened circulation caused from that, would soon begin what we call hypostatic pneumonia, which is what we found in the lungs, I think was caused from that.

[41 Ariz. 51] "Q. From your examination and your investigation of the abrasions and bruises that you saw on the head, face and body of this old lady, what is your opinion as to how those were caused? A. The only answer I can give to that is that it was caused by some external force or violence; those long lacerations in the skin would indicate that something had been brought in contact with the skin with a violent force, in a dragging force, as though it started and was brought down in a dragging condition, and the bruise on the head and under the left eye was caused

Page 257

by some different external force or violence that came in contact, as a blow or something of ...


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