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1959 Murder Case

State of Missouri v. Tony Robinson, Jr.

Supreme Court of Missouri, Division 1

November 9, 1959

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant appealed a judgment of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis (Missouri), which entered the jury's verdict convicting him for manslaughter and, upon the jury's failure to agree as to defendant's punishment, sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment in the state penitentiary.

OVERVIEW: At the deceased's invitation, defendant shared a fifth of wine while sitting in the back seat of a car in a junkyard lot. After the deceased insisted on committing sodomy on defendant, defendant's refusal precipitated an argument and a fight. After blows were exchanged and the deceased picked up the wine bottle, defendant pulled him out of the car. After the deceased attacked him and tried to grab his feet, defendant kicked himself free. The deceased's head hit an old motor block. Defendant, who suffered a broken big toe, ran home to escape the deceased, whom he did not know was hurt. The circuit court refused defendant's jury instruction on the right of self-defense when one is threatened with the commission of a felony. On appeal, the court reversed defendant's conviction for manslaughter by finding that defendant was entitled to a jury instruction on justifiable homicide. As defendant claimed that all he did was to use such force as was necessary to prevent the deceased from sodomizing him and to get away from him, defendant's theory of justifiable homicide should have been included in the self-defense instruction.

OUTCOME: The court reversed defendant's conviction and sentence for manslaughter and remanded the case. On retrial, the court opined that the photographs of the body of the deceased that the state introduced into evidence over defendant's objection should be excluded.

Source: 328 S.W.2d 667; 1959 Mo. LEXIS 672

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