In re Fraley

1910 OK CR 97, 3 Okla. Crim. 719, 109 P. 295



Upon an application for bail by writ of habeas corpus after commitment for a capital offense, the burden is upon a petitioner to show that he is illegally deprived of his liberty. That is, the burden is upon petitioner to show facts sufficient to entitle him to bail, when those facts are not shown by the evidence adduced on the part of the prosecution. The court is not permitted to presume for a prisoner either justification or mitigation merely because the evidence for the prosecution fails to show their absence. On the contrary, unless the evidence for the prosecution shows the presence of facts or circumstances tending to justify, excuse, or mitigate the offense, then the burden is upon petitioner to make that showing by evidence at least sufficient to generate a reasonable doubt in that respect. Even in the trial of the case, the commission of the homicide by a defendant being proved, the burden of proving circumstances of mitigation that justify or excuse it devolves upon him, unless the proof on the part of the prosecution tends to show that the crime committed only amounts to manslaughter, or that the defendant was justifiable or excusable. Okla. Comp. Laws § 6854. 


A prisoner shot a man to death outside a drug store, and stated that the shooting was in revenge for the victim's killing of the prisoner's son. After he was arrested and placed in jail on a murder charge, the prisoner filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus by which he sought release on bail pending the final hearing and determination of a charge of murder. The writ was allowed, and a hearing was held at which the prisoner neither testified nor offered witnesses in his behalf.


Is bail a matter of right in capital offenses?




The court denied bail and discharged the writ. The court held that the uncontradicted testimony demonstrated that the proof of the prisoner's guilt of a capital offense was evident and that he was not entitled to bail as a matter of right because (1) there was no reduction of homicide to manslaughter given sufficient time in which the passion of a reasonable man would have cooled and (2) a deliberate killing committed in revenge for an injury inflicted in the past, however near or remote, was murder. The court held that the prisoner failed to meet his burden of showing that he was illegally deprived of his liberty and that factually unsupported opinions by physicians about the prisoner's health did not entitle him to bail.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.