Stealin’ A Hog–Or, Maybe Not (1915)

I’ve been rummaging around some of the old Arkansas Supreme Court cases, trying to find the earliest mention of the Town, now City, of Bradley.  The earliest I’ve found so far is reprinted below:  Twitty v. State, 118 Ark. 602 (1915).  The italicized portions in the body of the opinion are my comments.

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“TWITTY V. STATE

May 24, 1915 [the date this opinion was handed down by the Arkansas Supreme Court]

KIRBY, J. [Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Kirby, who wrote this opinion]

Doss Twitty was convicted of grand larceny for stealing a hog, the property of J. W. Vaughan, and from the judgment prosecutes this appeal.

Appellant [i.e., the person doing the appealing, in this case, Doss Twitty] contends for reversal that the testimony is not sufficient to sustain the verdict.  It appears from the testimony:  That Doss Twitty, with his brother, went out into the range near the town of Bradley, in Lafayette county, hog hunting with their dogs.  That they killed a one-eared blue barrow, went back to town, and had the liveryman to send a wagon and bring it to their home in the town of Bradley, where they cleaned it in the back yard, about dark or shortly thereafter.

W. B. Vaughan, a son of J. W. Vaughan, the alleged owner of the hog, had the appellant under suspicion, and on learning that he had gone into the woods hog hunting, went into the range himself with two others, and they heard dogs baying and shots, two or three times, but were never able to come up with the persons doing the shooting.  Each time they would reach the places where they thought the shooting occurred, those doing it had gone.  They then took the other end of the line and went back to town to see what would be brought in by Doss Twitty upon his return.  They found him and his brother, who was indicted jointly with him, cleaning the carcass of a one-eared blue barrow, in the back yard; the side with the ear gone being uppermost.  One of them stated:  That, before they made their presence known, Doss Twitty said to his brother, “Let’s go to supper and drag the hog in the house.”  That his suspicion was further excited by this remark.  They then went up and asked to see the mark on the hog; one of them, Will Allen, reaching his hand down under the hog’s head and feeling the ear that was marked.  They testified it was in the mark of J. W. Vaughan, a crop and underbit in that ear.  Twitty, upon their saying they wanted to see the mark, said: “All right; I will just cut the ear off, and give it to you”—which he did.  Vaughan claimed that, in cutting off the ear, he cut it so as to cut it under the bit, which Twitty denied, saying that he had given him the whole ear.  The ear was not produced in evidence, and no effort was made by Vaughan to take possession of the hog.

Young Vaughan and the two others with him all testified that the hog was the property of J. W. Vaughan, explained how his other ear had been chewed off by the dogs, gave the description, and were positive in their identification.

Twitty and his brother and five or six others, the man who had sold him the hogs before they were taken from the town into the range, the man who had helped to mark him at the time the dogs chewed his other ear off, the man who had occasionally fed the hogs for him in the range, and two or three others, all testified, giving the description of the hog, and stating positively that it was the property of Doss Twitty.

The preponderance of the testimony appears to be against the jury’s finding, but there is substantial testimony to support their verdict, and this court cannot disturb it.  The jury evidently believed from the testimony of the conduct of the defendant in the woods and at the time Vaughan and the others asked to see the mark of the hog, while he was cleaning it, that he was trying to conceal the true condition and found him guilty.

The testimony is sufficient to sustain the verdict, and the judgment is affirmed.”

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Hog stealing in those days was “grand” larceny and was obviously a serious business.

Cutting somewhat through the legalese, what the Arkansas Supreme Court is saying is that, after examining the court reporter’s transcript of the case, it appears to them that there is actually more evidence that Mr. Twitty did not steal the hog, than that he did steal the hog.  However, because the jury actually saw the witnesses testify, it was in a better position than this appellate court to determine who was telling the truth and who wasn’t.  So, Mr. Twitty’s conviction was allowed to stand.

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