McQuirter v. State

Court of Appeals of Alabama, 1953

Facts: loitering.

  • D was a black man and a white woman claimed that he suspiciously followed her and her children down the street.
  • Police and sheriff claimed that while he was under arrest D confessed that he visited the town intending to rape and possibly kill a white woman.
  • D claimed that he happened to be walking down the street behind the woman and denied making the confession.

Procedural History:  D was convicted of attempt to commit assault with intent to rape in the lower court.  D appealed.

Issue:  Was the evidence sufficient to maintain the conviction?

Holding: Yes.


  • “To justify a conviction for an attempt to commit an assault with intent to rape the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant intended to have sexual intercourse with prosecutrix against her will, by force or by putting her in fear.”
  • The jury could properly consider the race of the parties in inferring the D’s intent.
  • D’s alleged confession was admissible because of the absence of proper grounds of objection and because some facts were proven from which the jury could reasonably infer that the crime was committed.

Disposition:  Affirmed.

Comments:  Case shows the weakness of the unequivocality test and that public alarm may be based on nothing more than prejudice.

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