The following is the substance of the charge delivered by the hon. Chief Justice Yates, to the jury.
Gentlemen of the jury, you have heard the prisoner at the bar charged with the murder of Darius Quimby. It has been given in evidence to you, that the constable had a lawful warrant to apprehend the prisoner, in an action of trespass; that the pri|soner fled from justice into the woods, and placed himself upon a rock; and being pursued, and nearly surrounded, the constable came behind him, struck at him, and said he was his prisoner—But whether the constable touched him, or not, it being dark, he is not certain, but thinks he did—The constable gives you no account how the stroke was given; but anoth|er witness says that while the prisoner and Quimby were clinched together, lying in the snow, he saw the arm of the prisoner move backward and forward as if striking the deceased. Another witness says, that Page 11 the prisoner while standing on the rock said he would kill the first man that should touch him. From these witnesses you are to determine the crime of murder, charged against the prisoner.—I will in|form you what is the crime of murder, it is a killing with malice expressed or implied. Implied by ly|ing in wait to kill—by intending to kill one, but in fact killing one whom he had no intention to, is murder.—With respect to the officers of justice, it is by law declared it an officer is killed, doing his duty, it is murder, if it be known he was an officer: re|sisting an officer is unlawful—It is also murder if committed on those called to assist an officer, in the execution of his office. A man has been killed, assis|ting an officer in executing a lawful warrant, which warrant has been before you, and no suggestion of it being illegal.—it remains with you then to consider whether there was a warrant—an officer—and an assistant by the orders of the officer—whether the man killed, was killed assisting the officer, by the or|ders of the officer—and whether the prisoner at the bar is guilty of the murder laid to his charge—If you are convinced in your consciences he is guilty, say so—If he is not guilty, say so.
I was found guilty—and afterwards being called to the bar, was asked by the honorable Chief Justice what I had to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced against me, and not replying, The Chief Justice proceeded, in substance, as follows: You, Sweeting! It appeared on your trial, that you knew an officer had a warrant against you—you sled from justice, which it is a crime to do—you gave out high threatning words, that you would kill the first man that should touch you.—The officer was in the lawful execution of his office—the men assisting him were acting the part of faithful, good citizens.—If a man lifts his hand against another, with an inten|tion to kill him, and kills some bosom friend, it is murder. If a man resist an officer before he is ta|ken Page 12 and death ensue, it is murder.—Let this be a|duced to correct a wrong idea that is entertained by people, that they may resist officers, doing their du|ty. Officers doing their duty are under the pro|tection of the law. You said you should not have killed him whom you killed (had you known him) sooner than you would have killed your own bro|ther: This indicates that you intended to kill some one among them. Your crime is not only against the laws of man, but directly against the laws of the Supreme Being. The apostle Paul says, the pow|ers that be, are ordained of God, and whosoever re|sisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves dam|nation.—You did not submit to the lawful authority—you resisted till death ensued, and a murder com|mitted upon one of your neighbors—You shed his blood, and by the divine law he that sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed. You are a murderer, and you are condemned by this court.—Under the law there was a city of refuge, to which the man-slayer might flee; but alas! for you, there is none, in this world; your only hope must be through the great atonement and the blood of the blessed Jesus, to which I earnestly exhort you to ap|ply for pardon; and may you obtain forgiveness. Nothing now remains, but (however painful,) to pronounce the sentence of death upon you. We are, by your crime, now constrained to deprive your wife of a husband, your children of a parent, and your aged parents of a son. Your sentence is, That you be taken back to the place from whence you came, and from thence to the place of execution, and there to be hanged by the neck until you are DEAD, and that your body be delivered to the surgeon for dissection—and the LORD have MERCY on your poor SOUL.