Prison Yard


In an enclosed yard are 25 identically dressed prisoners and a prison guard. The sole witness is too far away to distinguish features. He sees the guard, recognizable by his uniform, trip and fall, apparently knocking himself out. The prisoners huddle and argue. One breaks away from the others and goes to a shed in the corner of the yard to hide. The other 24 set upon the fallen guard and kill him. After the killing, the hidden prisoner emerges from the shed and mixes with the other prisoners. When the authorities later enter the yard, they find the dead guard and the 25 prisoners.

The prosecutor indicts one of the prisoners--call him prisoner #1. If the only evidence at trial is the testimony of the distant witness, is prisoner #1 entitled to a directed verdict of acquittal?

Suppose, in addition, that the prosecutor calls prisoner #2 as a witness for the prosecution, and prisoner #2 testifies that it was he who disassociated himself from the others and hid in the shed. Is prisoner #1 now entitled to a directed verdict of acquittal?

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