Austin v. United States

382 F.2d 129 (1967)

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Austin v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
382 F.2d 129 (1967)

SH

Facts

Bernard Austin (defendant) and the deceased, Nettie Scott, were seen drinking together at an afterhours establishment. During this time, Austin was seen using a pocketknife to repair a broken thumbnail of another patron. The pair left the establishment at about 4:00 a.m. and drove off in Austin’s truck. Police saw Austin’s truck parked off the side of the road at about 5:00 a.m. and, upon approach, noticed some clothing lying on the grass near the truck. At that point, Austin came up the bank from the river, got in his truck, and left. Further investigation revealed the clothing was bloodied, and the officers thereafter retrieved the deceased from the river. The deceased had suffered over 25 stab wounds, culminating in a stab wound to the head, penetrating the brain and lodging the broken blade in the skull. There was no evidence of any arguments or threats between Austin and the deceased. At trial, Austin requested that the time required for deliberation be instructed as “some appreciable period of time,” but the court denied his request and instead instructed that the time sufficient for deliberation “may be in the nature of hours, minutes, or seconds.” Austin was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and appealed, arguing the trial court’s instruction was misleading and prejudicial.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leventhal, J.)

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