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Friday, June 7, 2013

A Coincidental Conviction: People v. Bob

In People v. Bob, 175 P.2d 12, 13 (Cal. 1946) Justice Carter begins by introducing us to the defendant, Leroy Bob, and defining some important terms: 
It appears that in the early evening of November 16, 1945, Bob and an acquaintance named Johnson met in a pool hall in Stockton and decided to go out ‘hustling,’ which in the vernacular means ‘to roll a drunk, strong-arm somebody.’ (175 P.2d at 13). 
The two men then lured the victim, George S. Yoshoika into an alley where Johnson bludgeoned him with an iron pipe.  They looted Yoshoika of his wallet and fled.  The court explains what happened next, introducing another unsavory character, Simmons:
Bob and Johnson then went to the hotel room of Johnson's wife, where Johnson proceeded to clean up and prepared to flee the state. The sum of $37, found in the wallet, was divided equally by the two men. Johnson also found a $50 bill which he did not mention to Bob. Bob went back into the street, met one Simmons, and told him of the crime. He and Simmons returned to Yoshioka and Simmons took Yoshioka's shoes.
Soon thereafter Yoshioka's body was observed by a passer-by, and the police were notified. Yoshioka passed away in the hospital without regaining consciousness, the cause of death being a fractured skull. The bloodstained pipe was found on the ground near the spot where Yoshioka's head had rested, but its rusty surface gave forth no fingerprints. (Id. at 13-14).
It looks like law enforcement is out of luck on this one, but: 
Johnson was taken into custody in Texas and returned to California. On December 1, 1945, in the early morning, Bob was arrested for ‘causing trouble’ in a cafe, and was booked as a suspect vagrant. When the police took him to the fingerprinting desk, he there saw Johnson. This led to his voluntary confession of complicity in the robbery and murder of Yoshioka. (Id. at 14). 

Talk about a lucky break for the prosecution.

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