The-'appellants place their chief emphasis in this Court upon their exceptions to the refusal of the trial court to allow their motions for involuntary judgments of nonsuit made when the State rested its case and renewed when ail the evidence was concluded.
' When the State undertook to prosecute the prisoner, Jim Palmer, for the slaying of the deceased, Otis McNeill, it necessarily assumed the burden of producing evidence sufficient to prove two things: (1) That the deceased died by virtue of a criminal act; and (2) that such criminal act was committed by the prisoner. S. v. Howell, 218 N.C. 280, 10 S.E. 2d 815; S. v. Redman, 217 N.C. 483, 8 S.E. 2d 623; S. v. Johnson, 193 N.C. 701, 138 S.E. 19. Undoubtedly, the testimony of the prosecution was sufficient to establish the first of these propositions.
The defense insists, however, that the indictment for homicide ought to have been nonsuited in the court below for the reason that the State’s evidence fails to identify the prisoner, Jim Palmer, as the person who did the killing. Furthermore, the defendant, Foxy Palmer, asserts that the testimony of the prosecution is equally defective in respect' to the charge against him in that it fails to show that he participated in the hiding *213of the body of the deceased. S. v. White, 208 N.C. 537, 181 S.E. 558; S. v. Simms, 208 N.C. 459, 181 S.E. 269.
The State was compelled to resort to circumstantial evidence in its effort to connect the prisoner, Jim Palmer, with the homicide, and the defendant, Foxy Palmer, with the concealment of the corpse. In final analysis, this testimony consisted simply of circumstances which tended-to show a motive for the commission of the crimes charged, and evidence of shoeprints and automobile tracks in the vieiiiity of Tempting Church and Deep River.
Evidence of motive is relevant as a circumstance to identify an accused as the perpetrator of an offense. S. v. Artis, 227 N.C. 371, 42 S.E. 2d 409; S. v. Ham, 224 N.C. 128, 29 S.E. 2d 449; S. v. Hudson, 218 N.C. 219, 10 S.E. 2d 730; S. v. Lefevers, 216 N.C. 494, 5 S.E. 2d 552; S. v. Wilkins, 158 N.C. 603, 73 S.E. 992; S. v. Green, 92 N.C. 779. But such evidence, standing alone, is not sufficient to carry a case to the jury, or to sustain a conviction. 23 C.J.S., Criminal Law, section 1139; 44 O. J.S., Homicide, section 321. Consequently, we must determine whether the State’s testimony relating to shoeprints and automobile tracks in the vicinity of Tempting Church and Deep River, either of itself or in combination with the evidence as to motive, reasonably tends to point out the prisoner, Jim Palmer, as the murderer of the deceased, or the defendant, Foxy Palmer, as one who assisted in concealing his corpse. S. v. Heglar, 225 N.C. 220, 34 S.E. 2d 76; S. v. Oldham, 224 N.C. 415, 30 S.E. 2d 318; S. v. McLeod, 198 N.C. 649, 152 S.E. 895; S. v. Satterfield, 121 N.C. 558, 28 S.E. 491.
In the nature of things, evidence of shoeprints has no legitimate or logical tendency to identify an accused as the perpetrator of a crime unless the attendant circumstances support this triple inference: (1) That the shoeprints were found at or near the place of the crime; (2) that the shoeprints were made at the time of the crime; and (3) that the shoe-prints correspond to shoes worn by the accused at the time of the crime. S. v. Ragland, 227 N.C. 162, 41 S.E. 2d 285; S. v. Walker, 226 N.C. 458, 38 S.E. 2d 531; S. v. Mays, 225 N.C. 486, 35 S.E. 2d 494; S. v. Cromer, 222 N.C. 35, 21 S.E. 2d 811; S. v. Jones, 215 N.C. 660, 2 S.E. 2d 867; S. v. McLeod, supra; S. v. Weston, 197 N.C. 25, 147 S.E. 618; S. v. Young, 187 N.C. 698, 122 S.E. 667; S. v. Griffith, 185 N.C. 756, 117 S.E. 586; S. v. Fain, 177 N.C. 120, 97 S.E. 716; S. v. Spencer, 176 N.C. 709, 97 S.E. 155; S. v. Martin, 173 N.C. 808, 92 S.E. 597; S. v. Lowry, 170 N.C. 730, 87 S.E. 62; S. v. Thompson, 161 N.C. 238, 76 S.E. 249; S. v. Taylor, 159 N.C. 465, 74 S.E. 914; S. v. Freeman, 146 N.C. 615, 60 S.E. 986; S. v. Hunter, 143 N.C. 607, 56 S.E. 547; S. v. Adams, 138 N.C. 688, 50 S.E. 765; S. v. Daniels, 134 N.C. 641, 46 S.E. 743; S. v. Morris, 84 N.C. 756; S. v. Reitz, 83 N.C. 634; S. v. *214 Graham, 74 N.C. 646. Similar criteria apply to evidence of automobile tracks offered to identify tbe owner of a motor vehicle as the perpetrator of an offense. S. v. Young, supra.
Moreover, the hare opinion of a witness that a particular shoeprint is the track of a specified person is without probative force on the question of identification. S. v. Reitz, supra; Wharton’s Criminal Evidence (11th Ed.), section 934. The great master, Dean Wigmore, had this to say on this phase of the law of evidence: “No doubt a witness to identity of footmarks should he required to specify the features on which he bases his judgment of identity; and then the strength of the inference should depend on the degree of accurate detail to be ascribed to each feature and of the unique distinctiveness to be predicated of the total combination. Testimony not based on such data of appreciable significance should be given no weight.” Wigmore on Evidence (3rd Ed.), section 415.
The State’s evidence may beget suspicion in imaginative minds. But when it is laid side by side with law and logic, it does not rise to the dignity of proof. It leaves to conjecture the place and time of the homicide, and the relation of the shoeprints and automobile tracks to these all-important matters. It refers to speculation the problem of whether any connection existed between the concealment of the corpse and the tire prints found on roads constantly used by the general public for lawful objects. Likewise, it commits to surmise the question of whether these imprints were made by an automobile belonging to the prisoner, Jim Palmer, or by any one of numberless other motor vehicles equipped with exactly identical tires. Over and above these considerations, it lacks probative force in pointing toward the accused as the makers of the footprints near Tempting Church and beside Deep River. It makes the identity of Jim Palmer as the maker of shoeprints to rest solely on the bare belief of Ed Hooker that one set of “large tracks” without distinctive features observed on the Loop Road on Wednesday night, 17 March, 1948, were Jim Palmer’s tracks, and the dubious testimony of C. B. Beck, which reads as follows with the parentheses, the parenthetic phrase “witness looks around courtroom,” and the semicolon expunged: “I just could not exactly say it was really Mr. Jim’s track.” The attempt to connect Foxy Palmer to the shoeprints is based on even more tenuous circumstances.
When all is said, the State’s testimony as a whole returns no answers to the baffling questions it asks except these resounding echoes: When, where, and by whose hand was Otis McNeill murdered? Who consigned his body to Deep River? Since the record leaves these crucial matters unsolved and shrouded in mystery, the State must suffer defeat for want of proof.
*215This brings to remembrance a far-away day in ancient Rome when another prosecution failed for a like reason. The incident is recounted in Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 15 Sup. Ct. Rep. 394, 39 L. Ed. 481, in these words:
“Ammianus Marcellinus relates an anecdote of the Emperor Julian which illustrates the enforcement of this principle in the Roman law. Numerius, the governor of Narbonensis, was on trial before the Emperor, and, contrary to the usage in criminal cases, the trial was public. Numerius contented himself with denying his guilt, and there was not sufficient proof against him. His adversary, Delphidius, ‘a passionate man,’ seeing that the failure of the accusation was inevitable, could not restrain himself, and exclaimed, ‘Oh, illustrious Caesar! if it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?’ to which Julian replied, ‘If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent V ”
In reaching the conclusion that the testimony did not make a case for the jury, we have neither overlooked nor ignored the evidence of the State which tended to show that on Monday, 22 March, 1948, 17 cotton strings of varying lengths were found in the trunk of Jim Palmer’s automobile “on the wood rests which the spare tire lies on,” and that these strings and a quilt composed of 36 different fabrics were submitted to the State’s witness P. T. Bachinger, an expert in the field of textile goods, who compared the 17 cotton strings with sample strings from each of the 36 fabrics in the quilt and, found that one of the cotton strings taken from the automobile and one of the sample strings from one of the fabrics in the quilt were apparently similar in twist, size, color, and pix. Although this testimony was employed by the State with telling power on the trial in support of its assumption that the body of the deceased was hauled from Tempting Church to Deep River in the trunk of Jim Palmer’s automobile, it was incompetent and destitute of probative value because no evidence was adduced by the State tending to identify the quilt submitted to the witness Bachinger as the quilt wrapped about the corpse.
For the reasons given, the convictions and the sentences in the Superior Court are vacated and reversed, and the motions of the appellants for judgments of compulsory nonsuit are sustained on this appeal. Under G.S. 15-173, this ruling has the force and effect of a verdict of not guilty as to each of the accused.