Alberty v. United States,
162 U.S. 499 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Alberty v. United States, 162 U.S. 499 (1896)

Alberty v. United States

No. 853

Submitted March 4, 1896

Decided April 20, 1896

162 U.S. 499


Alberty, the accused, was a negro born in slavery, who became a citizen of the Cherokee Nation under the ninth article of the treaty of 1866. Duncan, the deceased, and alleged to have been murdered, was the illegitimate child of a Choctaw Indian by a negro woman who was not his wife, but a slave in the Cherokee Nation. Held that for purposes of jurisdiction, Alberty must be treated as a member of the Cherokee Nation, but not an Indian, and Duncan as a colored citizen of the United States, and that, for the purposes of this case, the court below had jurisdiction.

A man who finds another, trying to obtain access to his wife's room in the night time by opening a window may not only remonstrate with him, but may employ such force as may be necessary to prevent his doing so, and if the other threatens to kill him, and makes a motion as if so to do,

Page 162 U. S. 500

and puts him in fear of his life or of great bodily harm, he is not bound to retreat, but may use such force as is necessary to repel the assault.

The weight which a jury is entitled to give to the flight of a prisoner, immediately after the commission of a homicide was carefully considered in Hickory v. United Statfs, 160 U. S. 408, and without repeating what was there said, it was especially misleading for the court in this case to charge the jury that from the fact of absconding they might infer the fact of guilt, and that flight is a silent admission by the defendant that he is unable to face the case against him.

Defendant, a Cherokee negro who was known both by his father's name of Burns and that of his former master, Alberty, was convicted of the murder of one Phil Duncan at the Cherokee Nation, in the Indian Territory. The indictment alleged the crime to have been committed May 15, 1879, but it appeared by the evidence to have been committed in 1880.

Upon judgment of death being pronounced, defendant sued out a writ of error from this Court, assigning a want of jurisdiction in the court below and various errors in the charge to the jury connected with the law of homicide and the inference to be drawn from the flight of the accused.

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