Judge Ingraham has been an intermittent presence in the trial so far, letting the lawyers predominate. Now he takes command as he gives the jury its charge. “I know that you are acting here in the performance of a disagreeable task,” he says. “But I know that you feel you have a duty to perform—a duty you owe to the public, a duty you owe to yourselves.”
The jurors must be guided solely by the evidence adduced at the trial. “Banish from your minds sympathy for the prisoner, his family, or his friends. Banish from your minds any prejudice existing against the prisoner. Banish also from your minds anything which will tend to the favor or disfavor of the prisoner, other than what has been derived from the consideration of the case.”
The jurors must keep the fundamental issue clearly in mind. “We have a simple question to try, and you have a simple answer to render on that question, and that is, whether this prisoner is guilty or innocent of the charge preferred against him.” The charge is murder in the first degree. “Murder is the killing of a human being without excuse or justification, with the intent to take life.” Much of the case as presented turns on the matter of intent. “You are to form an opinion as to the intent of this man from his acts, conduct, and declarations, by all the circumstances connected with the incidents for which he is on trial.” The prosecution has alleged that Stokes went to the hotel intending to shoot Fisk. “If you come to the conclusion that he had that intent when he came there and carried it out, and you don’t find any circumstance to warrant you seeing that he was justified or excused in that act, or that there is some other cause that rendered him irresponsible, then you will find him guilty.”
Judge Ingraham explains the law touching the issue of the cause of death. If the gunshot wound was mortal—that is, if it would have caused death in any event—the matter of whether the death at the precise moment it came was caused by shock or by opium is immaterial. The judge notes that none of the physicians has asserted that Fisk could have recovered. In other words, they have agreed that the wound was indeed mortal.
The defense has argued that Stokes credibly feared for his life. Ingraham reminds the jurors that Stokes and Josie Mansfield have been the principal witnesses to this effect. The jury must decide whether to believe them.
On the insanity plea, he notes, the defendant is the sole material witness. Again the jury must decide.
As in every case, he concludes his charge, the defendant must receive the benefit of reasonable doubt.