On writ of error to the Passaic County Court of Oyer and Terminer.
For the plaintiff in error, John C. Barbour and E. Robert Coven.
For the defendant in error, J. Vincent Barnitt.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
DONGES, J. The plaintiff in error (hereinafter referred to as the defendant) was convicted of murder in the first degree for the killing of his wife, Lucia Nardella.
The defendant came to this country from Italy in 1910. He returned to that country in 1914, and in 1915 he married the decedent, by whom he had two children before returning to this country in 1920. In 1922 his wife and two children came to this country and lived with defendant,
first at Manlius, New York, and then in Paterson, in this state. Two daughters were born after the wife came to this country. The defendant, with his wife and children, continued to live in Paterson until her death.
From defendant's statements to the authorities, it appears that he became suspicious of his wife and frequently accused her of infidelity. He quarrelled with her, and, on one occasion the quarrel was so violent as to require calling in a justice of the peace to protect the wife and to quiet the defendant. He admitted that for sometime prior to the killing he had determined to kill his wife because he believed her unfaithful to him, although he had no evidence of her infidelity and she vigorously denied his accusations. However, he concluded that the only solution of the situation was to kill her.
The admissions were made to the district attorney of Onondago county, New York (whence he fled after the murder), and to the prosecutor of Passaic county, after he was brought back to this state.
On the day of the murder his wife was trying to persuade him to accompany her to a doctor to have his injured finger treated. His wife was dressing to go with him, and as she leaned over to adjust her stocking or shoe, he struck her in the back of the head with a baseball bat. In his statement, defendant said: "No, I didn't want to go. I said I didn't feel very well. I felt sleepy. 'We will go Monday night.' My wife said, 'No, we will have to go right now.' I said I didn't feel well, once, two or three times. I said, 'I don't feel well.' She caused me to get mad. She got me mad and having the opinion that she was a bad woman, I picked up a baseball bat and hit her on the head." He further said that he intended to kill her. After striking his wife with the bat, he dragged her by the feet down the cellar stairs to the coal bin, where, observing that she was alive, he struck her several times with a coal shovel, which he bent. Then, his wife still breathing, or as he said, "I wasn't sure that she was dead," he secured an axe and struck her with the edge several times, and made sure that she was dead. He then
threw coal on her face and put boards over her body. He then went upstairs, washed bloodstains from the floor, and endeavored to wash bloodstains from his hands and clothing. He talked to his children, but said nothing of his attack upon his wife. He changed his clothing, locked the doors to the coal bin and cellar, and then fled to New York, where he was captured the next day.
He admitted the killing of his wife to the authorities in New York, and in Paterson, and, at the trial, admitted the killing. In his testimony at the trial, in response to the question: "Then what happened, Mr. Nardella, on August 2d?" he replied: "It happened that I killed her. I done the spoils, and give me my medicine and finish it all." "Q. What does that mean? You are sorry? A. Sorry about the poor children in the street, and ruined the whole family, and the whole house, the entire family." The defense was one of insanity.
The case is before us for review on bills of exception and on specifications of causes for reversal on the entire record of the proceedings at the trial, under section 136 of the Criminal Procedure act. Comp. Stat., p. 1863. It is not urged that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence.
The first point urged is that the trial judge committed error in that he instructed an interpreter not to give any answers of defendant which included hearsay statements, and that such instructions delegated to the interpreter the ...