Stewart v. State

1 Ohio St. 66 (1852)

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Stewart v. State

Ohio Supreme Court
1 Ohio St. 66 (1852)

  • Written by Sharon Feldman, JD

Facts

David Stewart (defendant), James Dotey, and John McCartney argued over a small debt either Dotey or McCartney owed to Stewart. Dotey and McCartney attacked Stewart, but Stewart was not hurt. Two nights later, Stewart approached Dotey and McCartney and again argued with them about repaying the debt. Dotey advanced toward Stewart with a raised hand and struck at Stewart. Stewart did not move. Stewart stabbed Dotey five times, killing him. Stewart was indicted for second-degree murder. There was testimony at trial that the day before the killing, Stewart had shown witnesses a large knife and said he was going to carry the knife, ask for the money every time he saw Dotey, and, if Dotey attempted to strike him, cut Dotey’s guts out. Stewart also told a witness that there would be war in the barroom that night because Stewart intended to ask McCartney and Dotey for the money they owed him. The court instructed the jury that a man may protect himself during a sudden fight by killing the person who assaults him, but the law requires that the person retreat as far as he can with safety and kill his adversary only if absolutely necessary to save his own life or save himself from great bodily harm. The court refused to instruct the jury that if a man is attacked by a person of superior strength, he is not required to flee and may use such force and such weapons as may be necessary to resist the force employed against him. Stewart was convicted of murder in the second degree. On appeal, Stewart argued that the court erred in instructing the jury on self-defense and in refusing Stewart’s requested instruction.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thurman, J.)

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