Kentucky v. Whorton

LOCATION: Harrah High School

DOCKET NO.: 78-749
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Kentucky Supreme Court

CITATION: 441 US 786 (1979)
ARGUED: Apr 16, 1979
DECIDED: May 21, 1979

Patrick B. Kimberlin III -
Terrence R. Fitzgerald -

Facts of the case


Media for Kentucky v. Whorton

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 16, 1979 in Kentucky v. Whorton

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments next in Kentucky against Whorton.

Mr. Kimberlin, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Patrick B. Kimberlin III:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

I am Patrick Kimberlin, Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and it is the Commonwealth of Kentucky which is the petitioner in the case at bar.

The facts of this case stated briefly are as follows.

On May the 16th 1976, in the evening hours in suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky the respondent, Harold Whorton entered a fast food restaurant armed with a pistol and a knife, and robbed that restaurant, the employees, and he took money from the cash register.

And while he was there, he took the knife and cut the telephone lines.

He then left the restaurant, fled the scene in a 1967 blue Oldsmobile.

Seven days later on the 23rd of May, he committed yet another robbery again in the evening hours, again in the suburbs of Louisville, again a fast food restaurant.

Again armed with a knife and a pistol and he robbed that restaurant taking money from the cash register and fled the scene.

Finally, again seven days later on June the 1st 1976 he robbed the last fast food again in the suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky in the evening hours.

Again he pulled the -- this time he pulled the telephone from the wall, fired a shot into the ceiling and robbed a number of patrons of the restaurant as well as the employees, and again took money from the cash register.

However, during the course of this final robbery, one of the patrons managed to slip away and advised the police of what was happening.

Just as Harold Whorton was fleeing the scene, the police arrived and gave chase.

In a short while, they forced Whorton off the road.

The car he was in was a blue ‘67 Oldsmobile.

He got out off the car, flourished a weapon but dropped it at the command of the police.

The police seized him, the weapon and some money from the automobile and returned him immediately to the scene at that last robbery where 10 individuals who had been at that fast food restaurant positively identified him as the man who just victimized them.

Thereafter, in the Jefferson County grand jury returned three separate indictments one for each of these three robberies.

These indictments were joined for trial and the trial was held in the Jefferson Circuit Court in Jefferson County, Kentucky in September 1977.

During the course of that trial, the Commonwealth of Kentucky introduced an abundance of evidence establishing the guilt of Harold Whorton on the charges that were brought against him.

At the -- the evidence presented by Whorton was only that of his sister and his wife.

Those two ladies testified that on the evening of one of the three robberies, he was with them, thus attempting to establish an alibi.

Harold Whorton did not take the stand to testify in his own defense.

The conclusion of all the evidence, Harold Whorton requested an instruction on presumption of innocence.

The trial court refused the requested instruction as per the law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky at that time.

The jury returned verdicts finding Harold Whorton guilty on 10 counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of attempt to commit first-degree robbery, and two counts of wanton endangerment.

Whorton, thereafter, pursued an appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

While that appeal was spinning in the Kentucky Supreme Court, this Court rendered its decision on May 30, 1978 in the case of Taylor versus Kentucky.