(born 1941 or 1942, died April 10, 1959) was a juvenile executed in the
United States for a murder committed when he was under the age of 18.
Shockley, a black male, was executed in Maryland in
the gas chamber for a crime committed when he was 16. Shockley was
convicted of murdering a white woman in Dorchester County, Maryland.
Shockley, whose older brother had just begun serving
a life sentence at the time of the execution, was 17 years of age.
Court of Appeals of Maryland
SHOCKLEY ET AL.
Decided: January 19,
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Dorchester County;
Henry, C. J., and Taylor and Duer, JJ.
Raymond D. Coates and Vaughn E. Richardson, with whom
was Charles E. Edmondson on the brief, for the appellants.
Stedman Prescott, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, with
whom were C. Ferdinand Sybert, Attorney General, and Daniel T. Prettyman,
State's Attorney for Worcester County, on the brief, for the appellee.
Brune, C. J., and Henderson, Hammond, Prescott and
Horney, JJ. Henderson, J., delivered the opinion of the Court. Horney,
J., dissenting in part.
[218 Md Page 493]
Two brothers, Harold Edward Shockley, aged 23, and
Leonard Melvin Shockley, aged 17, were jointly indicted by the Grand
Jury of Worcester County for the murder of Sarah Hearne, a storekeeper.
The case was removed to Dorchester County and tried before three judges,
without a jury. Both defendants were found guilty of murder in the first
degree. Leonard was sentenced to death, and Harold to life imprisonment.
The basic facts are virtually conceded. On the
morning of January 16, 1958, a cold, cloudy day, the defendants left
their home, where they lived with their parents, at Omar, Delaware, and
drove to Snow Hill. They were accompanied by a sister. The trip was made
in a 1951 Chevrolet that had been loaned to them by a dealer while the
motor of their mother's automobile was being repaired. The sister was
left to visit at the home of a friend. At about 1:00 P.M. Leonard
suggested that they drive to Boxiron, a small village in Worcester
County, in the vicinity of which they had lived before the family moved
to Delaware. They came to a country store, and Leonard, who was driving,
backed in alongside the store. Leonard was wearing a dagger or sheath
knife on his belt. Mrs. Hearne, the storekeeper, came from her home,
about 95 feet from the store, to wait on them.
Shortly thereafter a witness, Clarence W. Bishop, who
lived in the neighborhood, walked up to the store and noticed the
Chevrolet parked beside it. He opened the door and entered the store. He
saw Harold (whom he had known before) standing behind the counter,
toward the rear of the store, and heard a scuffle at another point
behind the counter. He ran out and reported to another neighbor that it
"sounded like somebody was on Sarah down the store." When he and the
neighbor returned, the automobile was gone. In the meantime, the victim
had made her way to her home, where she fell dead. The police found her
body with her pedal pushers down from her waist and the front of her
underpants torn out. She had been stabbed several times in the back and
breast, and her throat had been cut. Investigation showed that the cash
register in the store had been tampered with
[218 Md Page 494]
and jammed. A pool of blood marked the place where
she had first fallen, and a trail of blood led to her home.
The police arrested the brothers at their home that
same evening. They were taken to the police barracks at Georgetown,
Delaware, where they each made statements out of the presence of the
other. These statements were duly offered in evidence, and it is not
contended that they were involuntary. According to Leonard, he and his
brother planned to rob the store on their way to Boxiron, and they both
attacked Mrs. Hearne in an attempt to rob her. He said Harold told him
to grab her. Leonard admitted that he tried to rifle the cash register
but could not get it open. He admitted that he had stabbed the victim
and cut her throat. According to Harold, Leonard went into the store to
buy cakes and soft drinks, but Harold remained outside in the automobile,
until he heard what he described as "scrambling around in there." He
went in to investigate and found Leonard had the victim on the floor
between the meat case and the counter with her pedal pushers down. He
saw Leonard cut her throat. He then tried to pull Leonard off the victim,
and they both fled. He claimed he did not know, when Leonard went into
the store, that Leonard had any intention to rob or rape the victim.
Harold admitted that they drove home by back roads and did not go back
to Snow Hill for their sister. Along the way, they each discarded
articles of clothing which contained extensive blood stains identified
as of the same type as that of the victim. There were also blood stains
in the right front seat of the Chevrolet.
In addition to these statements to the police, there
were put in evidence two reports of mental examinations made upon
petition of the defendants, pursuant to an order of court, upon
stipulation that they "be admitted in evidence with the same effect as
if the same had been introduced in evidence by the defense upon the
production of the said Dr. Jacob Morgenstern as a witness." These
reports, aside from extensive background material relevant to the
psychiatric findings, contained statements which followed the same
pattern as the previous statements. It appeared that Leonard had been
out of work for about three weeks before the murder. In this
[218 Md Page 495]
statement Leonard denied that he had discussed the
attempted robbery with his brother. He said he had drunk "almost a pint
of wine" that morning. He had money in his pocket, and there was no
reason for him to attempt the robbery. The report definitely stated the
examiner's opinion that the accused had sufficient mentality to meet the
Maryland tests of legal responsibility.
The report as to Harold was to the same general
effect. Harold said that he was surprised when his brother passed the
store, turned around, and passed the store twice, before stopping there,
and asked him what he had in mind. Leonard replied: "I am just riding."
Harold admitted to a previous conviction of larceny and that he was only
released on probation a few days before the murder. There is no
contention here that either of the brothers was not legally responsible
for their acts. They contend that in each case the evidence was legally
insufficient to support the verdicts. No contentions are pressed as to
rulings on the evidence. Neither defendant took the stand.
Maryland Rule 741 c provides that when a criminal
charge has been tried by the court, without a jury, this Court on appeal
may review both the law and the evidence to sustain a conviction; but
the rule also provides that the verdict shall not be set aside unless
clearly erroneous, and due regard shall be given to the opportunity of
the trial court to judge the credibility of the witnesses. We think it
is perfectly clear that Leonard killed the victim in an attempt to
perpetrate a robbery or a rape, so that as to him the verdict of first
degree murder must stand. See Code (1957), Art. 27, sec. 410; Stansbury
v. State, 218 Md. 255, and cases cited. His own confession and
admissions, corroborated by other evidence in the case, point
unmistakably to his guilt.
The case against Harold requires a more extended
discussion. It is conceded, and the trial court ruled, that any
statements in Leonard's confession, made out of the presence of Harold,
could not be used against Harold in weighing the sufficiency of the
evidence against him. See Peters and Demby v. State,
187 Md. 7, 14, and Jackson v. State, 180 Md.
658. It is contended that there was no evidence, apart from
[218 Md Page 496]
these statements, to show that Harold participated in
an attempted perpetration of robbery or rape. We do not agree. We think
the evidence would at least support an inference that Harold knew of,
and actively participated in, an attempt to rob by forcing the cash
register. The testimony of the police officers shows that the cash
register had been tampered with and jammed, presumably by one or both of
the accused. It might be inferred that this attempt was made prior to,
or contemporaneously with, the assault on Mrs. Hearne by the armed
brother, because they evidently fled as soon as the victim's throat was
cut, knowing that Bishop had seen them and had run off to give the alarm.
It would strain credulity to believe that Harold, the older man, was
simply an innocent bystander. His story, that he sat outside in the car
until he heard a scuffle in the store, is inherently improbable. It was
a cold day, and the store windows were closed. Bishop heard no noise
until he opened the door, and he then saw Harold behind the counter
while a scuffle was taking place, and doing nothing to prevent it. The
inference is that Harold entered the store with his brother, and not
afterwards, and that he was present when the initial assault took place
and the attempt to force the cash register was made. It may be inferred
from the fact that neither of the brothers had been employed for some
time, that both were short of funds. It is difficult to believe that
Harold would not have shared in the loot, if the cash register had not
jammed so that even the police officers could not open it without
further instruction. Knowledge of the brother's purpose to rob is not
the exact equivalent of an active participation in the attempt to rob,
but knowledge plus the other circumstances of this case permit an
inference that Harold aided and abetted in a concerted effort to obtain
money. Even the position of the car suggests that it was placed in a
position for a rapid flight. The drive past the store on two occasions
also suggests a "casing" operation. In addition, we have the facts that
Harold's clothing was covered with the victim's blood, that he made no
effort to help the victim, and that he went off with his brother by a
circuitous route, discarding and concealing the incriminating garments.
[218 Md Page 497]
Exculpatory statements by an accused may be
disbelieved by the triers of the facts. Kier v. State, 216 Md. 513, 519;
Berry v. State, 202 Md. 62, 66. We noted in Wild v. State, 201 Md. 73,
77, that "knowledge may be inferred from circumstances, even where there
is positive denial. Moore v. State, 199 Md. 676,
87 A.2d 577; Shelton v. State, 198 Md. 405,
413, 84 A.2d 76, 80. As we said in Hayette v. State, 199 Md. 140, 145,
85 A.2d 790, 792, 'on questions of scienter reason for disbelieving
evidence denying scienter may also justify finding scienter.'" See also
Brown v. State, 200 Md. 211, 215, and Ferraro v. State, 200 Md. 274,
278. We noted in Chisley v. State, 202 Md. 87, 109, that "Evidence of
the movements and actions of the accused after the killing and before
the arrest may be competent evidence."
We think the cases of Coleman v. State, 209 Md. 379,
and Watson v. State, 208 Md. 210, relied on by the appellant, Harold
Shockley, are distinguishable. In the Coleman case, we held that there
was evidence to support the trial court's finding that Loretta Cox, a
young girl who sat outside in a car while a breaking and entering
occurred, had no knowledge that a crime was planned, and hence was not
an accomplice. In the Watson case, we likewise held that the trial court
was not clearly wrong in finding that a female witness to the murder of
a newborn child was not an accomplice. In each case we gave full weight
to the findings of the triers of the facts. We find nothing to the
contrary in Judy v. State, 218 Md. 168. It may well be that in the
instant case Harold's mere presence would not be sufficient to make him
a participant in the killing. The trial court stated that they were not
satisfied that he participated in the actual killing, or that he knew a
killing was to take place. They found, however, that he participated in
an attempt to perpetrate a robbery, and that is enough, under the
statute, to support a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.
We think there was sufficient evidence, or inferences from evidence, to
support the finding that Harold participated in the attempted robbery,
and we cannot hold that the trial court was clearly wrong in so finding.
[218 Md Page 498]
Horney, J., dissenting in part, filed the following
The majority of this Court, in affirming the
conviction of Harold Edward Shockley (the defendant or Harold) of murder
in the first degree, based its conclusion on the fact that the trial
court was not clearly wrong when it found there was sufficient evidence,
or inferences from evidence, to support the finding that Harold
participated in the attempted robbery of Sarah Hearne (the victim).
I agree with the majority that the evidence was
sufficient to sustain the conviction of the younger brother, Leonard
Melvin Shockley (Leonard), of murder in the first degree for the killing
of the victim in an attempt to perpetrate a robbery or a rape, but I
cannot agree that the evidence was legally sufficient for the trial
court to have found Harold guilty of murder in the first degree.
The trial court, in announcing its verdict, stated
that it believed the two brothers had discussed their plans on the way
from Snow Hill to Boxiron and what they were going to do when they got
there; and that Harold, as well as Leonard, knew they were going to
Boxiron with criminal intent -- certainly with intent to rob, and
possibly with an intent equally as bad or perhaps worse. The court was
unable to accept the statement of the older brother that he went in the
store with the sole purpose of preventing the younger brother from
committing a crime. In sentencing Harold, although the court was
satisfied of his guilt under the provisions of Code (1957) Art. 27, ?
410, it was not satisfied that he had participated in the actual killing
of the victim or knew the killing was to take place, and for that reason
sentenced him to life imprisonment instead of death.
Maryland Rule 741 c provides that when a criminal
charge has been tried by the court instead of a jury, this Court, upon
appeal, may review both the law and the evidence to determine whether in
law the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction. The rule also
provides that the verdict of the trial court shall not be set aside on
the evidence unless it is clearly erroneous, and due regard must always
be given to
[218 Md Page 499]
the opportunity of the trial court to judge the
credibility of the witnesses. But if there is no evidence, upon which
the trial court could find a defendant guilty, then it is the duty of
this Court to rule that the lower court was wrong, and set the verdict
aside. What then is the state of the record in this case?
Harold concedes that the credibility of the witnesses
is not involved. He insists, however, that, if the testimony of every
witness in the case, which was properly in evidence, is accepted as true,
it is still not sufficient to convict him of murder. He further says
that the trial court, in applying the established rules of law, could
not have been fairly convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt, of his guilt.
Other than the statement made by Leonard in his
confession taken out of the presence of Harold -- that he and his
brother planned to rob the victim and that both had attacked her for
that purpose -- which the trial court properly ruled was not admissible
in evidence against Harold (Peters and Demby v. State, 187 Md. 7,
48 A.2d 586 ; Markley v. State,
173 Md. 309,
196 A. 95 ) -- there is no evidence
that the brothers had planned a robbery on the way to Boxiron. Since the
trial court found Harold guilty under the provisions of Art. 27 ? 410,
supra, -- which provides, in part, that "[a]ll murder which shall be
committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any * * *
robbery * * * shall be murder in the first degree" -- the real question
is whether there was any evidence, or inferences from evidence, from
which the court could properly conclude that Harold participated in the
attempt to perpetrate a robbery.
The majority opinion states that the "evidence would
at least support an inference that Harold knew of, and actively
participated in, an attempt to rob by forcing the cash register." The
State Police testified that the cash register had been tampered with and
was jammed, but other than the fact that Harold was present at the scene
of the crime there was no evidence to prove that he had participated in
the attempt to rob any more than he had participated in the actual
killing of the victim. As stated, there is evidence that Harold was at
the scene. He knew a crime was being committed and
[218 Md Page 500]
did nothing to stop it. He fled the scene in haste
without notifying anyone that a crime had been committed. And, in his
flight by a devious route, he discarded his blood-stained clothing. But
none of these, standing alone or collectively, is sufficient to show
that Harold participated in the attempt to perpetrate robbery.
Although the presence of Harold at the scene of the
crime was one of the factors the court was entitled to consider in
arriving at its verdict, his mere presence there did not in itself make
him a principal or an accomplice. Judy v. State, 218 Md. 168, 146 A.2d
29 (1958); Watson v. State, 208 Md. 210, 117 A.2d 549 (1955); 2 Wharton,
Criminal Evidence ? 451 (12th ed. 1955). In Levering v. Commonwealth,
132 Ky. 666,
117 S. W. 253, 257 (1909), it was said:
"Mere presence or acquiescence in, or silent consent
to, is not, in the absence of a duty to act, legally sufficient, however
reprehensible it may be, to constitute one a principal, or an accessory,
or an aider and abettor, or an accomplice * * *."
See also 1 Underhill, Criminal Evidence ? 16 (5th ed.
1956); State v. Tippett, 244 Iowa 1350, 60 N. W. 2d 538 (1953); State v.
McComas, 85 Mont. 428, 278 P. 993 (1929); Gower v. State,
166 Ga. 500,
143 S. E. 593 (1928); State v. Altwatter,
29 Idaho 107,
157 P. 256 (1916); People v. Hrdlicka,
344 Ill. 211,
176 N. E. 308 (1931); Hicks v. State,
126 Tenn. 359,
149 S. W. 1055 (1912).
One who witnesses a crime and does nothing to stop it
is not guilty of the crime committed unless he knowingly, voluntarily,
and with common criminal intent with the principal offender,
participates in the commission thereof, or in some way advocates or
encourages its commission. 2 Wharton, Criminal Evidence ? 448 (12th ed.
1955); Coleman v. State, 209 Md. 379, 121 A.2d 254 (1956); Watson v.
State, supra, at p. 219, and the cases therein cited. In the Coleman
case we said at p. 385:
"The term 'accomplice' does not include a person who
has guilty knowledge, * * *. To constitute one
[218 Md Page 501]
an accomplice, he must perform some act or take some
part in the commission of the crime or owe some duty to the person in
danger that makes it incumbent on him to prevent its commission."
Harold's flight from the scene was a circumstance to
be considered against him in connection with other evidence tending to
show guilt. Clay v. State, 211 Md. 577, 128 A.2d 634 (1957). The
movements made by an accused between the time the crime was committed
and the time of the arrest are always important as reflecting upon the
accused's culpability vel non. McCleary v. State,
122 Md. 394,
89 A. 1100 (1914); Cothron v. State,
138 Md. 101,
113 A. 620 (1921); Chisley v. State, 202 Md.
87, 95 A.2d 577 (1953). But flight, in and of itself, is not conclusive.
People v. Sanchez,
35 Cal. App. 2d 231,
95 P. 2d 169 (1939); Hilson v. State, 101
Tex. Cr. 449,
276 S. W. 272 (1925). It is not even prima
facie evidence of guilt. United States v. Greene,
146 F. 803 (D. C. Ga. 1906), affirmed
154 F. 401, 85 C. C. A. 251 (1907), cert.
den. 207 U.S. 596 (1907). Moreover, flight, standing alone, is not
sufficient to support a conviction. 1 Underhill, Criminal Evidence ? 16
(5th ed. 1956); Howard v. State,
182 Miss. 27,
181 So. 525 (1938); State v. Adams, 191 N.
132 S. E. 281 (1926); State v. Marasco,
81 Utah 325,
17 P. 2d 919 (1933); Duty v. Commonwealth,
137 Va. 759,
119 S. E. 62 (1923).
Finally, there was Harold's deliberate attempt to
suppress the tell-tale evidence of his presence at the scene or
participation in the crime furnished by his blood-stained clothing,
which he discarded at several points along the route his brother took to
get home. Like the flight of the accused this fact was also a
circumstance, which, although not conclusive, could be considered a link
in the chain of circumstantial evidence showing guilt. 23 C. J. S.
Criminal Law ? 907a. But, also like flight, the discardation of his
clothing is but another circumstance which is neither conclusive nor
prima facie evidence of guilt, and is insufficient, in and of itself, to
support a conviction.
The only evidence against Harold was circumstantial.
Of course, there was direct evidence, which Harold did not deny,
[218 Md Page 502]
that he was present at the scene of the crime, but
there was no direct evidence that he participated in the attempt to rob
or rape or the actual killing, so that his presence at the scene was but
another circumstance from which an inference could be drawn. When such
circumstantial facts as were present in this case -- consisting of
presence at the scene, knowledge of the commission of a crime, flight
from the scene and the suppression of tell-tale evidence -- can be
reconciled either with the theory of innocence or with the theory of
guilt, the theory of innocence must prevail and a conviction cannot be
sustained. 23 C. J. S. ? 907c, supra. See also Shelton v. State, 198 Md.
405, 84 A.2d 76 (1951). Under the evidence in this case Harold could
have been present to prevent commission of the crime or present to
participate in it. When he saw his brother cut the throat of his victim
he could have been stricken dumb and powerless to act or he could have
been advocating or encouraging the act. When he fled he could have been
fleeing because he was horrified or frightened at what he had witnessed
or he could have been fleeing to avoid arrest. And when he discarded his
clothing while in flight he could have been trying to rid himself of the
taint of feloniously spilled blood or he could have been trying to
suppress evidence of his presence or participation in the crime.
Inasmuch as the facts are as consonant with innocence as they are with
guilt, Harold should not have been convicted under the evidence in this
In 1 Underhill, Criminal Evidence ? 17 (5th ed.
1956), it is said:
"Circumstantial evidence which merely arouses
suspicion or gives room for conjecture is insufficient. It must do more
than raise the mere possibility or even the probability of guilt. It
must afford the basis for an inference of guilt beyond a reasonable
See the rule laid down in the memorandum on motion
for reargument in Edwards v. State, 198 Md. 132,
81 A.2d 631 (1951), at p. 157, for meeting
the test of the legal sufficiency of evidence in both civil and criminal
[218 Md Page 503]
There is no doubt that a conclusion of guilt may be
based on a reasonable deduction or inference drawn from the facts and
circumstances proved or admitted. Such facts and circumstances, however,
must not only be consistent with guilt, but must be wholly inconsistent
with innocence. Commonwealth v. Bardolph,
326 Pa. 513,
192 A. 916 (1937). Moreover, if there is a
hypothesis of innocence, there must be an acquittal, even though an
inference of guilt is also possible. State v. Bulna, 46 N. J. Super.
313, 134 A.2d 738 (1957).
Since the record is devoid of evidence, and
inferences from evidence, upon which the trial court could have found
Harold guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt, I am convinced that
the judgment as to him should have been reversed and the case remanded
for a new trial.