February 4, 1910
BABY'S CRY SAVED FATHER.
"Don't Send My Papa to Jail" Caused
Judge to Reverse Himself.
The kiss of his 4-year-old daughter, Ethel, yesterday saved Clarence Chronic from serving six months in the county jail for stealing chickens, a crime of which he had been found guilty in the criminal court. Judge Ralph S. Latshaw had passed sentence upon him and was putting on his coat and hat to leave the room. The little girl left her mother's side on her own impulse and threw both arms about her father's legs.
"Don't send him away," she pleaded, leveling a pair of innocent blue eyes at the judge. "Papa is my best friend."
The judge hesitated, scowled and was promptly won over. "A man who is loved by his family," he said after announcing his parole, "has his good traits."
Labels: children, crime, criminal court, Judge Latshaw
January 25, 1910
POOR MAN'S SHAVE ATTACKED.
Barber College Law, Which Prohibits
Charging, Will Be Tested.
The "poor man's" shave may become a thing of the past. The State Board of Barbers is after the barber colleges that give a shave for a nickel. Complaint was made yesterday to the prosecuting attorney and information will be filed this week in the criminal court to test the validity of the barber law.
A barber college at Missouri avenue and Delaware street will be made the defendant. It is charged that the owner has placed a barber pole in front of his "school," and that he charges five cents for a shave. It is also charged that the owner, or "president," advertises in the newspapers and employs barbers.
The law requires that barber colleges shall not charge for shaves and hair cuts, the barber pole shall not be displayed and only the "students" shall work upon the "victims."
Labels: barbers, criminal court, Delaware street, Missouri avenue
January 21, 1910
BOY SUSPECTS GIVEN
NO EVIDENCE FOUND AGAINST
LOUIS DYE, RALPH CLYNE
AND HARRY SHAY.
Those Filing Charges and
Fail to Appear.
Three boys, Louis Dye, Ralph Clyne and Harry M. Shay, accused of highway robbery, were dismissed from the charge by Justice James B. Shoemaker yesterday afternoon, completely vindicated. His action, Justice Shoemaker said afterwards, was warranted by the fact that they had not been sufficiently identified as the robbers, that their good character was obvious and that there was a want of prosecution, none of the the complaining witnesses nor any of the numerous persons alleged to have been robbed being present in the court room when the case was called.
A chance resemblance alleged to exist between the innocent youths and the boy bandits who committed innumerable depredations, including a murder, a month and a half ago, has followed the former since their apprehension in the Peck dry goods store December 7. Interrogated by police and county prosecutors, and an attempt made to personally assault one of them in the office of Captain Walter Whitsett at Central station by Thomas Spangler, whose father was killed by robbers in his saloon at Twentieth street and Grand avenue, the boys have had an unenviable six weeks.
Although Clyne, Dye and Shay worked in the same store in the capacity of elevator operators, they were scarcely acquainted before their arrest. They met often in the course of a day's work but it was only as other employes of a large commercial institution that hires hundreds of people meet. Now they are friends. Adversity and a common cause have brought them together.
The boys were arrested at the Peck store, at the insistence of Miss Stella Sweet, 529 Brooklyn avenue, and Mrs. L. F. Flaugh, 629 Brooklyn avenue, at 5:30 o'clock, December 7. Captain Walter Whitsett and Patrolmen E. M. Smith and E. L. Masson were the arresting officers.
While getting on the elevator to shop on the third floor the women, both of whom had been held up and robbed a week before, said they thought Clyne and Shay were trying to conceal their faces from them.
In the office of Captain Whitsett, the next day, the several persons previously robbed by the boy bandits were allowed to examine the boys in the presence of Captain Whitsett, Thomas R. Marks and Thomas Higgs, deputy county prosecutor. They were: Joseph Shannon, Miss Sweet, Mrs. Flaugh, W. S. McCain, Edward Smith, Albert Ackerman, Thomas Spangler and Edward McCreary.
When the case was called for trial before Justice Shoemaker yesterday afternoon Smith was out of town. He had left an assurance that he positively would not swear that the boys were guilty of robbing him. McCreary was not at the trial when his name was called, and it had reached the ears of the court likewise that he would not, under oath, associate the boys with the crime he had formerly charged against them.
Assistant Prosecutor Higgs asked for a continuance of the case until he could procure further evidence, but this was overruled. the boys were dismissed for want of prosecution.
"The police and the county had no case against them," said Justice Shoemaker. "This is another instance of someone acting prematurely. From all evidence to the contrary, these young men are as guiltless as anyone here in the courtroom."
Labels: Brooklyn avenue, Captain Whitsett, courtroom, criminal court, jail, Justice Shoemaker, Spangler murder
January 13, 1910
FOR FAMILY'S SAKE.
Benjamin Franklin Hughes
Must Support Family and
Avoid Primrose Path.
Benjamin Franklin Hughes, 51 years old, formerly a real estate agent of this city, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon in the criminal court to a charge of bigamy and was sentenced to six months in the county jail. Hughes was paroled on condition that he would support his wife and family and follow the straight and narrow path. He is to report April 4 to Judge Ralph S. Latshaw of the criminal court.
With bowed head and trembling voice, Hughes stood before the bar of justice and told of his mishaps. He admitted that he had acted a "silly, old fool," but promised, with tears in his eyes, to reform and devote his years to his wife and children. Mr. Hughes has secured a position as a real estate salesman in Illinois. He stood alone in court, deserted by his friends and disowned by his wife and family.
"It is not for your sake, because under ordinary circumstances I would have sent you to jail, but for the sake of your wife and family that I parole you," said Judge Latshaw. "They have suffered as much as you; they are disgraced because of your foolhardiness. It was not so much for the crime of bigamy that you deserve punishment, but a far worse crime -- infidelity to your wife, and family."
Hughes's defense was that he was forced into an unfortunate alliance with Miss Vairie Wilder, aged 17 years, who lived with her mother, Mrs. Cora Westover, 1622 Madison street. The real estate agent married the girl in Kansas City, Kas., early last month when he had a wife and family living in this city.
THOUGHT HIM WEALTHY.
Hughes charged that Mrs. Westover compelled him to marry her daughter. he said she thought he was a wealthy widower. Hughes and the girl met last April, and immediately Hughes became enamored of her. Then he furnished rooms in a flat on Troost avenue and lived with her there.
"I spent hundreds of dollars," he said, buying her clothes and presents. "I was forced to pay this girl's board at home, and all her expenses. Now I am broke and have exhausted my credit.
"When I asked to take the girl to Excelsior Springs for her health, Mrs. Westovermade me deposit $15 with her. Besides that I was forced to pay all the expenses while in Excelsior Springs. We stopped at a $4 a day hotel.
"After the girl got in trouble, Mrs. Westover demanded that I marry her, thinking all the time that I was a wealthy widower. I thought Miss Wilder an innocent young girl and that I alone was responsible. I wanted to do the right thing so I decided to marry her. I thought I would be able to keep it a secret from my family. But the farther I went the more trouble I found. Then the girl faced me and my wife with her charges. I was a fool. Who knows this better than I? A silly old fool."
"Yes, you were a silly old fool," interrupted Judge Latshaw. "Your conduct is inexplainable. How could you expect to gain the love of this young girl? You, with deadened passions, shoulders bending under the weight of years, and with deep-wrinkled brow. Every furrow in your brow was an unfathomable chasm, dividing you from her. The law of nature ordained ages ago that a man of your age could not win the love of a fresh young girl, as is Miss Wilder. It would have been like the union of January and May, as impossible as the laws of nature themselves to overcome. But the fool that you are, you followed your fancies.
" 'Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,' said the poet.
"The farther you went the deeper your feet sank into the mire. Did you hope to win this girl's love? Do you think that she ever cared for you? It is natural for the young to love the young, and for both to despise the old -- the doting, old fool. With one hand she caressed you and with the other hand she was seeking to take the money from your pockets. It was not you but what your money could buy that she wanted.
"But the crime you committed against this girl and later your becoming a bigamist were the least of your offenses. You violated the trust of your wife. What could be more disgusting or inhuman than a man with a good, pure woman at home, totally forgetting his obligations and duties that marriage has brought upon him.
"When the exposure comes they must suffer the same as you. when the name of Hughes is held up for ridicule, made the subject of ribald just, not you alone suffer, but your wife and family also. No wonder the woman whom you swore to cherish and love, despises and hates you. No wonder you are a disgusting sight to her eyes.
"But I think this one experience has cured you. If you fall again you must end with a suicide's grave or the felon's cell. Go out into the world and start anew. you cannot forget the past, because with your sensitive nature and cultivated tastes, the consciousness of your wrong-doing must remain with you forever. You must retrieve your past black record. The rest of your days should be spent in working for your wife and family, the ones who have suffered so greatly because of your misdeeds. If when you come back here, I find you are not supporting your family, you will be sent to the county jail to serve the sentence just imposed on you. Go and make good."
Labels: bigamy, criminal court, Excelsior Springs, Judge Latshaw, Madison street, real estate, romance, Troost avenue
December 30, 1909
LOOKS CONVICTED PRISONER.
Fallon Is Refused New Trial, But
Gets Sentence Cut.
J. B. Fallon was convicted last week in the criminal court and sentenced to five years in the state penitentiary, on his looks. Several jurors admitted after the trial that it was the prisoner's face and manner that caused them to vote for a conviction. Otherwise he would have probably escaped punishment.
Fallon was in court again yesterday on a motion for a new trial. Judge Ralph S. Latshawd overruled the motion, but reduced the sentence to three years.
The prisoner's looks were decidedly against him. He had long hair, carefully brushed and parted in the middle. The hair was oily, indicating a possible slippery nature of the owner. He had a small face and sharply cut features. His voice was soft and musical and he talked after the manner of a person who had made his living all his life by the "gift of gab."
Judge Latshaw told the prisoner that he might appeal h is case to the supreme court.
Labels: criminal court, Judge Latshaw
Decmeber 14, 1909
FAKE MESSENGER ARRESTED.
Two Boys Get Year in Jail After
Delivering Bogus Telegram.
Early yesterday morning a traveling man at the Sexton hotel was awakened by a rap at the door. Answering the summons he opened the door to have a telegram thrust in his hand by a boy in the uniform of the Postal Telegraph Company.
"Prepare for the worst," it read, "an accident has happened to your two sons. Will wire particulars later. -- Dr. Brown."
The traveling man rushed into his clothes and raced in a cab to the Postal office. There he was told that no message had been received from "Dr. Brown."
Harry Norton, 18 years of age, a messenger boy, was arrested on the charge of embezzlement. Alvin Church, the boy who is said to have delivered the telegram, but who is not an employe of the telegraph company, was taken into custody later on the charge of petty larceny.
When arraigned in the criminal court they admitted their offense, and Judge Latshaw gave each one year in jail, the maximum sentence. The boys say they have worked the fake telegram graft in three cities. Norton obtained work at the Postal in order to get telegraph blanks.
Church, they said, would visit the different hotels and take names from the registers. Fake telegrams would be prepared, usually telling that the man's wife or child was seriously ill or dead. The telegrams would be marked "collect."
Labels: con artist, crime, criminal court, hotels, Judge Latshaw, telegram
December 1, 1909
DRANK HIS WAY TO JAIL.
Court Is Lenient With Mechanic
Who Pleaded Guilty.
A. R. Davis, a machinist, pleaded guilty yesterday in the criminal court to having broken into a machine shop at Sixth and Bank streets.
"I didn't break into that place to rob," said Davis. "I was merely looking for a place to sleep.
"I am a trained machinist. Ten years ago I was earning $2,000 a year, now I am broke, without a job and blacklisted by the railroads. I have been foreman of machine shops in this city and railroad shops in other places.
"Ten years ago I began drinking. This is my end."
Judge Latshaw did not sentence Davis. He said after the trial that he would keep the prisoner in jail for three or four months, until he got the whisky out of his blood, then parole him. Davis pleaded guilty to a penitentiary charge.
Labels: alcohol, Bank street, criminal court, Judge Latshaw, Sixth street
November 30, 1909
DEPUTY USES PISTOL
TO SUBPOENA DOCTOR.
DR. CARBAUGH FINALLY GOES
WITHOUT COAT OR HAT.
Door Slammed in Officer's Face on
First Visit, He Obtains Attach-
ment in the Annie Owen
Grand Jury Case.
DR. EUGENE CARBAUGH.
Coatless, hatless and short winded as a result of being pushed up two flights of stairs in the criminal court building, Dr. Eugene Carbaugh, 614 Rialto building, was escorted yesterday afternoon into the office of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw.
Dr. Carbaugh was accompanied by Thomas Malone, a deputy sheriff. Carbaugh had been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and had refused to come immediately. An attachment was issued by Judge Latshaw, and he was taken before the grand jury by force.
Dr. Carbaugh was subpoenaed to tell of the slugging of Annie Lee Owen, stenographer of the police board, during the special investigation last spring. Dr. Carbaugh treated the young woman at the time.
Deputy Sheriff Malone appeared in the office of Dr. Carbaugh at 10 o'clock yesterday morning.
AN ATTACHMENT ISSUED.
"I have a subpoena for you," he began.
The doctor was standing in the doorway to his inner office. He was dressing a patient's hand.
"You can't read anything to me now," said the doctor, slamming the door in the officer's face.
Malone returned to the criminal building. An attachment was immediately issued. Malone returned to the Rialto building.
Dr. Carbaugh was attending another patient, a man whose head had been cut by a falling window.
"I want to serve that subpoena," said the deputy sheriff.
"Didn't I tell you that I don't want that read to me now? Sit down and wait until I am through."
The doctor slammed the door; Malone stuck his foot in front of it, and with his shoulder pushed his way into the office. Malone pulled a gun from his pocket. Dr. Carbaugh dashed from his office, through the waiting room to the outer hallway. Malone pursued, waving his gun.
A young woman stenographer in an adjoining office, hearing the tumult, rushed to the hall to see what was the trouble.
"You haven't hidden behind skirts too often, you can't do it now," taunted the deputy sheriff, leveling his revolver at the doctor and badly frightened the stenographer. "Throw up your hands."
"Don't' shoot. I'll come," Carbaugh replied, advancing.
Dr. Carbaugh was in his shirtsleeves.
"Can't I get my coat and hat?"
"No, sir, you ran away from them once before, so I guess you don't care much about them," was the ultimatum of the deputy sheriff.
Dr. Carbaugh was marched from the building with neither coat nor hat and taken before the criminal judge.
"I think you have been humiliated enough," said Judge Latshaw. "If you care to, you may return to your office for your coat and hat before appearing in the grand jury room."
The doctor said he was ready to go into the jury room and did not care to return to his office. He was taken downstairs. Here it was found that the jury had summoned another witness and it would be some time before he could appear. The doctor returned for his hat and coat.
"I did not try to put off the deputy sheriff," said Dr. Carbaugh. "I assured him that I would testify once I had finished tending to my patients. The needs of my patients come before the needs of the grand jury."
Labels: criminal court, Dr Carbaugh, Judge Latshaw, Rialto building
November 28, 1909
WHILE IN FIT SHOT ROOMER?
Defense Planned for Mrs. Sadie
Geers, Charged With Murder.
Mrs. Sadie Geers, facing a charge of murder in the second degree, was bound over to the criminal court yesterday by Justice James B. Shoemaker. She was unable to furnish $5,000 bond and was returned to the county jail to remain until her case comes up for trial.
Mrs. Geers is held for the shooting which resulted in the death of Harry Bonnell, one of her roomers in a house at 509 East Sixth street, last Sunday afternoon. The defense will use the plea that the woman was subject to epileptic fits and that she shot Bonnell during one of them. The court appointed Jesse James to defend Mrs. Greer.
Labels: criminal court, jail, Jesse James Jr, Judge Shoemaker, murder, rooming house
November 12, 1909
SCHOOLMATE TO JAIL.
"I Remember You Well," Said Judge
Latshaw -- "You Were the Class-
mate Picked to Become President."
"Do you remember the first time we met?" Judge Ralph S. Latshaw asked John Conners, tried in the criminal court yesterday on the charge of petty larceny. Conners had stolen junk iron valued at $2.50.
"It was when we were both boys," the judge continued, "we were nearly the same age, and were in the same class in the old Lathrop school. It must have been over thirty years ago.
"I can remember you well. You were the one who his classmates had picked to become president. You were the best in spelling and arithmetic. The teacher considered you her model pupil. Your penmanship was the roundest and the letters the most perfect. Everything came easy to you, while the rest of us had to study hard to get our lessons. You never have found out what real work is.
"But Connors, do you remember the next time I saw you? It was ten years ago. You came to my office to have me write a letter to the governor to have your citizenship restored. You had served a term in the penitentiary for grand larceny.
"What was the cause of your downfall?"
Connors was sentenced to sixty days in jail, then paroled on condition he would leave whisky alone.
Labels: criminal court, Judge Latshaw, schools
November 5, 1909
LAST OF WALLACE CRUSADE.
Nearly 4,000 Indictments Dismissed
by Prosecutor Conkling.
Nearly 4,000 indictments, returned by the grand jury last year during the Sunday closing crusade of William H. Wallace, then judge of the criminal court, were dismissed yesterday by Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling. These are the last of 7,000 indictments by the Wallace grand jury.
When Judge Ralph S. Latshaw succeeded Judge Wallace on the criminal bench he instructed the prosecuting attorney, I. B. Kimbrell, to examine all the indictments and to file complaints where he thought he could secure a conviction. One dozen cases were tried, but all were acquitted, and about 2,000 dismissed.
When Prosecuting Attorney Virgil Conkling went into office the first of the year 1,500 more cases were dismissed.
The 7,000 true bills returned were against about 1,000 persons. Against some, principally theater managers, there were from 200 to 300 in each instance.
The Blue Law crusade started by Judge Wallace was directed largely against Sunday shows. At odd times his deputies would arrest cigar dealers, druggists and others who kept open on Sunday.
Labels: cigars, criminal court, druggists, Judge Latshaw, Judge Wallace, Prosecutor Conkling, Prosecutor Kimbrell, theater
October 20, 1909
ZORN CASE DRAGS SLOWLY ON.
Seven Years Ago the Doctor Killed
For a second time during the present term of the criminal court, the case against Dr. Louis Zorn, charged with having killed his tenant, Albert Sechrest, was continued yesterday until December 6.
The killing occurred in June, 1902. Sechrest was a tenant of Zorn's. They quarreled over a line fence and the shooting resulted. Zorn's plea has been self-defense.
Zorn has been tried four times. Three times there was a hung jury but the last one resulted in a conviction. Zorn was sentenced to eighteen years in the state penitentiary. On an appeal to the supreme court, the verdict was reversed and the case remanded back to the criminal court for a new trial.
Labels: criminal court, doctors, murder
September 26, 1909
JOHNSON NOT GUILTY
VERDICT OF JURY.
REPORT AFTER NEARLY FIVE
Defendant in Buckner, Mo., Assault
Case Says He Was More Affec-
tionate Toward Wife Than
After being out from 7:35 until midnight a jury in the criminal court last night returned a verdict finding William A. Johnson, charged with an assault on his wife in Buckner, Mo., August 20 of last year not guilty.
In all likelihood the case would have gone over until Monday, had not the jury made a request of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw to allow them to finish last night. the jurors have been kept locked up the greater part of a week and they were anxious to be at their homes Sunday.
The testimony yesterday, as presented by the defense, was largely that of Johnson himself. Johnson was on the stand the greater part of the afternoon. He said he was 57 years of age, had been born in Ohio and come to the Buckner neighborhood about the time he reached manhood. He said he was married 31 years ago and that he was unable to read and write, except that he could sign his name. This lack of education he attributed to the fact that he had to shift for himself from the time he was 15 and also because school conditions were rather unsettled at the time he was a child, it having been the time of the civil war.
Johnson first rented the farm he later came to own. He built the house in which he and his wife lived 20 years. His farm comprised about 800 acres and was encumbered for about $47,000. He testified that he lost money in two ranch deals, in one of them, $10,000. He said that whenever he had money in the bank, he allowed his wife to draw checks herself.
AFFECTION FOR WIFE.
"What was your feeling toward your wife?" he was asked.
"It was good, as much as that of any man and better than that of any number of men I see around," replied the witness.
This was true both at the time Mrs. Johnson was hurt and now, said he. Recounting the events leading up to and immediately upon the injury of Mrs. Johnson, the witness said:
"When we came home from church that evening (about eight hours before the assault), my wife read the paper to me and then we went to bed. I went to bed first and fell asleep almost immediately after taking some medicine I need for asthma. My recollection is that the light was burning when I went to bed. The next thing I heard was my wife calling, 'O, Dode!' a nickname she used for me.
"I jumped up and saw her on the floor, sitting down. I asked her what she was doing there and at first she didn't answer. Then she said she was sick. I wanted her to get on the bed, but she said she was too sick and asked me to lay her down. I got some pillows from the bed and laid her head on them. I don't remember whether I lit the light or not. I asked her what hurt her and she did not answer. Then I ran downstairs to call the Hilts. When they came upstairs with me, we put my wife on the bed and I called a doctor. I saw no blood until I laid her back on the pillows.
"Did you, that night, get up and go downstairs and up again or anywhere else in the house until you called the Hilts?"
"I did not."
"Did you know until the doctors made an examination how badly your wife was hurt?"
"Have you knowledge of who hurt your wife?"
"I couldn't look it in the face if I killed an animal, much less my wife. I didn't do it and have no knowledge of who did."
Johnson's testimony was not materially changed by cross-examination.
Mrs. C. F. Harra, who lives near Buckner, testified that she had asked Johnson the day after the assault if he was going to make an investigation. The witness said he replied:
"There is no need to investigate. There are no clues."
Other witnesses put on by the defense were Whig Keshlear, a detective, and his assistant. Thomas F. Callahan, an attorney, who acknowledged a deed made by the Johnsons. Depositions were read from Catherine Elliott, a washwoman, and Martha Shipley, a nurse. Both said the Johnsons seemed fond of each other. Henry Johnson, a nephew, also was called. He slept in a room adjoining the Johnsons the night of the assault.
Late in the afternoon Mrs. Johnson was recalled to the stand by the state. She said that, while she was recovering, she often talked to Johnson, but never about the injury. There was long argument over whether this answer should be admitted, but it was finally allowed to go in.
"I called for Mr. Johnson frequently to talk to him to give him a chance to ask me how it all happened."
The jury was withdrawn for a time while this testimony was being debated by counsel. James A. Reed, for the fifth time during the trial, moved the discharge of the jury while Mrs. Johnson was on the stand, but Judge Latshaw overruled.
Labels: attorney, Buckner, courtroom, criminal court, domestic violence, James A. Reed, Johnson assault case, Judge Latshaw
September 25, 1909
BY SOME ONE IN THE
HOUSE, SAYS LATSHAW.
DECLARES MRS. JOHNSON WAS
NOT ATTACKED BY BURGLAR.
Court Overrules Demurrer to Evi-
dence Introduced by State -- Im-
portant Testimony Allowed in
Record -- Defense Begins Today.
"This crime was not committed by a burglar, but by a member of the household. The evidence here is that whoever came down stairs soon after the crime went up the stairs again. Burglars do not return to a place where they have committed a crime. They leave the vicinity.
"As to motive, there is an unexplained forgery of Mrs. Johnson's name to a deed. There are quarrels between the couple to help in establishing motive. For these reasons, the demurrer is overruled."
The ruling here quoted was made by Judge Ralph S. Latshaw of the criminal court yesterday after attorneys for William A. Johnson of Buckner had argued half an hour that the state had not presented sufficient evidence to allow the cause to go to the jury. The court held that there was evidence. The introduction of testimony for the defense will be begun this morning.
Mrs. Mina Johnson told her story on the witness stand yesterday. Tired to the point of exhaustion by the many questions put to her, she answered all of them quickly Facing her, at a distance of twenty feet, sat her former husband, charged with assaulting her. She looked in his direction as she testified, but he did not lift his eyes from the table at which he sat.
TESTIFIES TO ASSAULT.
After she had exhibited to the jury the place on her head where she was struck, Mrs. Johnson related the happenings on the night of the assault. She and Johnson had come home from church, and retired. He went to bed first and she blew out the lamp. In the course of the night she awoke. The light was burning and brown paper had been put about the glass. She fell asleep again, seeming to be helpless.
Her next recollection, she said, was after the blow had been struck. She remembered kneeling by the side of the bed, blood streaming over her clothing. She looked about the room for her husband, but not seeing him, called. Then, she said, he came up and took hold of her arm, asking what was the matter with her. She told him she did not know, and asked him to let her lie on the floor.
Then he took pillows from the bed and put her head on them. Mrs. Johnson said Johnson did not ask her how she was hurt, either then or at any time since, in fact, that he had never asked any questions about the affair.
While Mrs. Johnson did not call it a quarrel, she testified to an argument she had with Johnson a few days prior to the assault. He was then planning a trip to New Mexico, and she insisted that she was going with him.
"I told him only death would keep me from making the trip," said the witness.
WAS ABSENT THREE MONTHS.
Mrs. Johnson testified as to her marriage thirty-two years ago. She was Mina Alderman, a school teacher. She taught Johnson to read and write after they were married. They rented a farm near Buckner and prospered, so that they came to own the place in a few years. Everything seemed to go nicely until seven years ago.
About that time, she testified, he became less cordial. Three years ago Johnson intended to buy a ranch in New Mexico, and on this deal was absent form home for three months. He seemed even less cordial on his return from that trip, said the witness. In one of his pockets she found a receipted bill from the Savoy hotel, Denver. It was for $46.50 on account of "W. A. Johnson and Mrs. M. B. Howard."
"It's a mistake," the witness said Johnson remarked when she questioned him.
Not long afterwards Johnson told her, she said, of buying a house and lot in Kansas City. He did not explain the deal to her satisfactorily, the witness testified.
SAYS HE BOUGHT EXPENSIVE HATS.
After the finding of the hotel bill Mrs. Johnson made search and learned the address of Mrs. Howard. She wrote Mrs. Howard, requesting an interview, but was refused. Mrs. Howard said in the letter, according to the witness, that she had met Johnson in a business way. She accused Johnson of dictating the letter, said the witness. Mrs. Johnson also told of coming to Kansas City once with Johnson, who would not or did not ride on street cars, so that she was soon very tired and unwilling to make another trip.
Lillian Short, a milliner in the employ of B. Adler & Co., said that she had seen Johnson come to the store three times with a woman who on each occasion purchased a high-priced hat. The woman was not Mrs. Johnson, the witness said. Mr. Adler testified to the same effect.
IMPORTANT TESTIMONY IN.
John F. Cox, Prescott, Kas., testified that Johnson told him on one occasion that he was very well acquainted with two women in Kansas City.
Edward H. Hilt, who testified Thursday, was recalled by the defense and further questioned. He was asked whether Keshlear and another detective who investigated the alleged assault did not talk to him. The witness said he could not remember.
Hilt was allowed to testify only after the objection, raised Thursday as to part of his testimony and again yesterday morning, had been overruled by Judge Latshaw. Hilt had testified that he was awakened by a groan and that, soon afterwards, he heard the footsteps coming down the stairs and almost immediately retrace their course. Fifteen minutes later he again heard footsteps and this ti me Johnson came to his door. The defense objected to any statement of the witness that the sound of the footsteps was similar.
It was one of the most important points that could be raised in a case in which, as in the one on trial, the evidence is wholly circumstantial. The testimony of Hilt was allowed to remain in the record.
ESTATE WORTH $15,000.
This concluded the state's case.
The defence then submitted its demurrer, which was overruled.
The assault on Mrs. Johnson was committed in the morning of August 20 at Buckner. The Johnson were at one time wealthy, but in the settlement of their affairs which followed the divorce given Mrs. Johnson last spring, only about $15,000 could be saved from the wreckage. Mrs. Johnson was given half of this. There was property sufficient to carry mortgages aggregating about $50,000.
Labels: Buckner, courtroom, criminal court, domestic violence, farmers, Johnson assault case, Judge Latshaw
September 24, 1909
OF WIFE, WOMAN SAYS.
MRS. HILT TESTIFIES IN BUCK-
NER ASSAULT CASE.
Three Times Court Denies Motion of
Defense to Dismiss Jury -- Wit-
nesses Tell Events Night
of the Attack.
While Mrs. Mina Johnson did not go on the witness stand yesterday to testify against her husband, William A. Johnson of Buckner, Mo., now on trial in the criminal court on the charge of having assaulted her the day was replete with incidents even without the wife's story.
Three times counsel for Johnson moved that the jury be discharged, stating that matters prejudicial to a fair trail had occurred, and s harp exchanges between attorneys on both sides were not infrequent.
Mrs. Johnson will testify today. Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, informed the court during the afternoon session that he would not call Mrs. Johnson to the stand until today, as he had excused her because she complained of feeling sick.
Of the witnesses examined yesterday, only Mrs. Cornelia Hilt and Edward H. Hilt, her husband, were at the Johnson home in Buckner the morning of August 20, 1908, when Mrs. Johnson was hurt. For six years prior to her marriage Mrs. Hilt lived at the Johnson home. Mrs. Hilt was married ten years ago. At the time of the assault she and her husband had been two weeks at the Johnson home, Mrs. Hilt working about the house and Hilt doing farm work. They live in Buckner.
HUSBAND GAVE ALARM.
"The night Mrs. Johnson was hurt we had been at a Baptist meeting," she testified. "Early in the morning Mr. Johnson came to the room where my husband and I sleep and roused us. He said: "Jump up, quick, Nella, quick.' He said it several times. I got up and followed him up the stairs part of the way. As we were going upstairs he said: 'Mina's hurt.' Then I passed him on the stairs because I began to run. He said: 'Mina's hurt. I'm afraid she's hurt bad.'
"I found Mrs. Johnson on her back on the floor. I can't describe how bloody she was, for there was blood all over her. I could not see the wound, she was so bloody My thought was that her throat had been cut, there was so much blood."
"Did you notice the bed?"
"Yes, I noticed there was blood on it when we lifted Mrs. Johnson from the floor. The blood looked dry compared to that on Mrs. Johnson's clothes and on a corset cover that was lying on a chair by the bed. Mr. Johnson said his wife had wiped blood from her face with the corset cover.
"There was a light in the room. I stepped over and turned it up, although Mr. Johnson told me not to do so. Mr. Hilt said we must have a doctor and I offered to call one, but Mr. Johnson said he would. Mr. Johnson asked no questions nor did he tell me where the wound was. I stayed in the room only a few minutes, then my husband and I went downstairs to heat some water to wash Mrs. Johnson. When we returned, the doctor was there."
Mrs. Hilt said she had heard no unkind words between the Johnsons during her residence at the house. She said that two days before the assault she had driven to Buckner to meet Mr. Johnson and bring him home from the train. On that occasion, said the witness, Johnson had said to her:
" 'Nella, what am I going to do with Mina?' I said: 'I would not do anything to hurt her feelings, Mr. Johnson.' He said" 'She quarrels with me all the time and I don't say anything back.' "
Edward H. Hilt, husband of the previous witness, was then called to the stand. He said:
"While I was at the Johnson home I was in the habit of getting up at 4 o'clock in the morning and going home to do the chores there, then returning to the Johnsons. The morning of the assault I was awakened at about 3:30 o'clock. I was sleeping in the east room downstairs.
"The first thing I heard was a groan from above and southwest from where I lay. Then I heard footsteps or 'footpads' coming down the stairs toward the north. Then I heard a doorknob turn. I cannot say which knob it was, except that it was not the knob to my door. Almost immediately the footsteps returned the same way.
SAID WIFE HAD FALLEN.
"Fifteen minutes later those footsteps came again, just as the first time. My door opened and Mr. Johnson came by and said: 'Jump up.' My wife went out at once, but I waited to dress. I found Mrs. Johnson on the floor, with pillows under her head. Johnson meet me at the foot of the stairs as I started up and said: 'Mina has fallen and hurt herself.'
"We picked Mrs. Johnson up and laid her on the bed and then my wife and I went downstairs to heat some water. There was a dim light in the room when I came in."
PHYSICIAN ON STAND.
Dr. M. G. Ravencroft of Buckner, who was called to attend Mrs. Johnson after the assault, was the first witness. He identified six pieces of bone taken from Mrs. Johnson's skull in the course of an operation . He was asked whether the wound on Mrs. Johnson's head did not look as if the blow which caused it had been struck from the rear and forwards, but the court would not allow him to answer.
The physician said he asked Johnson how Mrs. Johnson was hurt. The latter replied, "I don't know." Mrs. Johnson also was unable to give an account of the happening, said he.
Dr. J. W. Robertson of Buckner testified that it would take a heavy blow to cause the injury received by Mrs. Johnson.
There was a craning of necks when Samuel H. Chiles, four years a marshal of Jackson county and the most renowned fox hunter in the county, took the witness chair. Mr. Chiles has lived forty years in Buckner and has known the Johnsons for a quarter of a century. Mrs. Johnson lived with his family when she was a little girl.
Two days after the assault Mr. Chiles went to the Johnson home. Johnson met him at the gate and said he wanted to talk to him.
" 'I want you to help me out in this trouble and help me ferret out who did this.' I said I would help all I could and asked him to tell me who was at the house at the time so that I would have something to work on. He told me who was there and I suggested that perhaps these people could tell, but Johnson said:
" 'No, they can't tell anything. I heard my wife say, 'Oh, don't,' and saw her on the floor and saw a light. I know I blew out the light when we went to bed. I saw my wife on the floor groaning and wanted to put her on the bed, but she said no.'
"The Johnson took me into the yard and said: 'Have you heard anybody talk about this?' I said: 'Yes, everybody is talking about it.' 'What is the impression of the people to whom you have talked,' he asked and I said: 'The impression is that you did it.' "
About four days later, said the witness, Johnson came to his house, with Clint A. Winfrey, a banker at Buckner. Johnson took him aside and out of Winfrey's hearing, said the witness, and spoke about getting a lawyer and employing a private detective. Whig Keshlear, a relative of Chiles, was mentioned, and Chiles said Keshlear would do as well as anybody.
In his opening statement for the state I. B. Kimbrell said that quarrels with is wife over a period of years were the cause of the assault and that Johnson struck his wife. The defense said that the blow was struck either by an intruder or that Mrs. Johnson fell and hurt herself.
Labels: Buckner, courtroom, criminal court, doctors, farmers, Johnson assault case, Prosecutor Conkling, Prosecutor Kimbrell
September 21, 1909
JOHNSON TRIAL ON TODAY.
Buckner Man Charged With Strik-
ing Wife as She Lay Abed.
The trial of William A. Johnson of Buckner, Mo., charged with attacking Mina Johnson, his wife, the night of August 20, 1908, as she lay in bed, is set for this morning in the criminal court. Mrs. Johnson supposedly was struck with a club. Her husband was supposed to be in the room asleep at the time. Later he told officers that the groans of his wife awakened him.
Mrs. Johnson secured a divorce and a division of the property in the circuit court last spring.
Labels: Buckner, criminal court, domestic violence, Johnson assault case
September 18, 1909
MRS. SHARP'S TRIAL IS SET.
Wife of "Adam God" Has No Means.
Counsel is Furnished.
In the criminal court yesterday the trial of Mrs. Melissa Sharp, wife of James Sharp, "Adam God," was set for October 18. As she had no counsel, Jesse James was assigned by the court.
Mrs. Sharp was in the riot at the city hall December 8, 1908, when two policemen were killed. Her husband, James Sharp, was convicted in the criminal court last spring and sentenced to the penitentiary for twenty-five years. He is now serving his sentence, pending the opinion of the supreme court on his appeal.
Mrs. Sharp's appearance before the court was in response to her own request. She had asked Judge Latshaw for an audience and when she came into the court room she asked for a hearing.
"I am ready for trial at any time," she told the court.
Labels: Adam God sect, city hall, criminal court, Jesse James Jr, Judge Latshaw
September 17, 1909
RILEY BOND FORFEITED.
Order Made by Judge Latshaw in
The bond of John Riley, "the Rat," has been forfeited in the criminal court, where he failed to appear for trial during the April term, which closed September 4. Judge Ralph S. Latshaw made the order yesterday.
The next step is to issue what is legally termed a "scire facias," citing the bondsman to appear during the January term of court and show why they have not produced the defendant and why execution should not issue to collect the amount of the bond. If the bondsmen make the showing that they are endeavoring to get the defendant to the city and have a fair chance of success, it has been the custom in the past to allow reasonable time even after their appearance in court in answer to the writ. In no event is it likely that the bond matter will be disposed of for more than three months.
Labels: criminal court, Judge Latshaw, Riley the Rat
August 14, 1909
IF NUDE IS ART, THEN
ART IS "ON THE BUM"
JUDGE LATSHAW STRICTLY TO
ENFORCE NEW LAW.
In Fining Photographer the $500
Limit, Court Calls Attention to
Most Drastic Enactment
If the nude is art, then, in the immortal words of Alderman Miles Bulger, art will be "on the bum" in Kansas City on and after Monday, August 16. Mark the date on the calendar.
Judge Ralph S. Latshaw administered this latest jolt to the "nude" in art yesterday afternoon in the criminal court. Incidentally, he said in no uncertain words that the nude is not art.
Photographers and art schools, who make a practice of reproducing likeness of the human form as it appears without the constraint of clothing will have to get out the fig leaves or something that will be even less translucent than the Adam ready to wear clothes.
The ruling on art in general and nude art in particular came in the case of Leon Vickers, a photographer who had a studio in the Sterling building. He advertised for girls to pose at 50 cents an hour. Then he informed some of the applicants that they would have to pose in the nude altogether and made advances toward two girls.
Vickers was tried in the municipal court, where a fine of $100 was imposed. He appealed to the criminal court, where the fine was raised to $500.
"Photographers all over the city make a practice of posing nude subjects," said the attorney for Vickers.
TO STOP "LIFE CLASSES."
"If they do," said Judge Latshaw, "they will soon be on the inside of the jail bars, looking out."
"But they pose nude subjects and make sketches from the nude at the Fine Arts institute," suggested Daniel Howell, assistant city attorney, who conducted the prosecution.
"They will not do so after Monday," remarked the court, decisively. "The legislature has enacted a law, effective Monday, which covers just such cases. I am sorry, Vickers, that I cannot send you to the penitentiary. There ought to be a law under which I could do so."
However, the fine of $500 imposed on Vickers is equivalent to the maximum imprisonment fixed in the new statute. The photographer will have to go to the workhouse for a year. The new law makes the maximum imprisonment one year and the maximum fine $1,000 and provides that both may be imposed.
A further section of the new law forbids the circulation of any obscene pictures or literature. If rigidly enforced, it will have a considerable bearing on the trade in suggestive postcards, which has grown to abnormal proportions in the past few years.
Labels: Alderman Bulgerr, arts, criminal court, Judge Latshaw, photographs, workhouse
August 3, 1909
BOY ON TRIAL WAS HIS SON.
That Was Why Prospective Juror
Wanted to Be Excused.
They were selecting a jury in the criminal court to try a young man who had appealed from the municipal court. One of the jurors, who had stood the questioning as long as he could, finally walked over to the court deputy marshal and to the clerk and asked to be excused.
"Why cannot you sist as a juror in this case?" asked Judge Ralph S. Latshaw, to whom the juror was referred.
"Why, judge, that boy on trial is my son and I didn't even know he had been arrested."
He was excused as a juror.
Labels: courtroom, criminal court, Judge Latshaw
May 29, 1909
SHARP'S FATE IN THE
HANDS OF JURY.
RELIGIOUS FANATIC WEEPS
DURING THE AURGMENTS.
Prosecutor Conkling Pleads Strongly
for the Death Penalty -- "Adam
God" Sat Unmoved
Through It All.
After deliberating from 2:50 o'clock yesterday afternoon until 10 o'clock last night, the jury in the James Sharp murder case declared its inability to reach a verdict, and was locked up for the night. It will be called into criminal court at 9 o'clock this morning.
Yesterday was taken up entirely by arguments in the Sharp case.
In the morning A. E. Martin concluded for the defense. He spoke until the noon recess. During his speech the widow of A. O. Dalbow, one of the policemen killed in the riot, fainted and had to be carried from the courtroom. She fainted also the first day of the trial.
After the noon recess, Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, summed up for the state. Mr. Conkling pleaded strongly for the death penalty. He said the testimony given by Harry Hoffman, deputy marshal, about the dream Sharp had, in which penitentiary life appeared easy, should prove that imprisonment would be no punishment, but rather would be welcomed by the defendant.
In his argument, Mr. Conkling said:
ARRAIGNED AS A COWARD.
"I will not rely on the testimony of any witness other than the defendant himself. If his own words do not condemn him then you are at liberty to set him free. No verdict you can render will restore to life Michael Mullane, Albert O. Dalbow or Andrew J. Selsor, nor will it restore Patrick Clark, who grappled unarmed with this fanatic, the eye he lost on that day.
"Counsel for the defense try to inject into this case the claim that the man is being tried for his religion. It is unnecessary to state that this is not true. This is the Twentieth century and every man is accorded the liberty of his conscience. But that liberty does not arm the assassin, it does not give strength to the ruffian. It does not allow a man to break the laws of God and man."
Strongly Mr. Conkling arraigned Sharp as a coward, contrasting his flight with the fight to the death made by Pratt. He pictured Sharp's hasty departure from the scene of combat, leaving behind wife, followers, faith and playing the part of coward.
Mr. Conkling's whole line of reasoning was as to the amount of punishment t hat should be given him. The vital point of the whole case, said Mr. Conking, was whether Sharp knew it was wrong to kill a man. Nothing else, he said, was involved.
IN THE HANDS OF GOD.
During Mr. Conkling's speech Sharp sat without the shadow of an expression on his face. During Martin's address he had wept. After the jury went out the fanatic who called himself Adam God asserted that his fate was in the hands of God. He was taken into a witness room and there for an hour talked his strange preachings to a score of the curious. He did not seem worried over the outcome of the trial.
Sharp was a leader of the band of religious fanatics who participated in a riot at the city hall December 8 of last year. He was tried on the charge of killing Michael P. Mullane, a patrolman. Besides Mullane, there were killed Patrolman A. O. Dalbow, A. J. Selsor, a spectator, and Luis Pratt, member of the fanatic band. Captain Patrick Clark of the police was severely wounded by Sharp.
Labels: Adam God sect, criminal court, murder, police, Prosecutor Conkling
May 26, 1909
SHARP'S SANITY NOW
AN IMPORTANT FACTOR.
WITNESSES TELL OF INCONSIS-
TENT ACTS AND STATEMENTS.
Today the Fanatic Leader Will Take
the Witness Stand and Tell
the Story of His Life.
ORIGIN OF NAME "ADAM GOD"
"He told me that the Almighty created the first man and called him Adam and that, therefore, all men since the first are property named Adam and may call themselves so if they choose.
He said further, that the Almighty, having created Adam, had breathed into him the breath of life and, having made him in His image and endowed him with life, that each man was in a way a god and could properly call himself a god. Combining the two titles he said every man could term himself Adam God. But he said he was not Adam nor God." -- From I. B. Kimbrell's testimony yesterday relating to a talk he had with Sharp.
Adam God, or James Sharp himself, will go on the witness stand today to tell the story of his life and his version of the city hall riot. Also there will testify Mrs. Melissa Sharp, his wife, who frequently was called Eve.
The crowd in the criminal court expected to see Sharp on the stand yesterday, for the number of spectators was greater than it has been at any time since the trial began. Half the space inside the railing was filled by spectators and once Judge Ralph S. Latshaw threatened to clear the court room and lock the doors if better order was not observed.
There were not so many objections yesterday from Sharp as have been on previous days of the trial. It was said that Sharp had been advised to make less commotion and he heeded the admonitions except in three or four instances. Once was when Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, asked a witness if Sharp was a publicity seeker. The defendant jumped up and said:
"I object, if my attorneys won't. I didn't advertise in no paper anywhere."
H. O. Lindsay, a merchant of Lebanon, Mo., however, said that Sharp had no hesitancy in announcing his sermons. On the witness stand Lindsay said that five years ago he heard Sharp preach in Conway, Mo.
"He had his wife and his little son along," said the witness, "and he said he was God himself and that it was the first time the people of that city had ever had a chance to hear God preach. He said also that he was David and Elijah and Adam."
THE FIFTH ANGEL.
Mr. Lindsay said he believed Sharp was unbalanced, in fact, insane.
Henry D. Hilton, a farmer of Morgan, Laclede county, saw Sharp five years ago and heard him preach twice that day. He testified:
"Sharp told us he was the fifth angel spoken of in Revelations as having the keys to the bottomless pit. He said, too, that it was God talking to us and that the people in that town had never heard God speak to them before. I formed the opinion that he had gone insane over religion."
When Sharp preached at Morgan at the time mentioned above, he stayed at the home of his sister, Mrs. Eliza Price. She testified yesterday that he preached at her house and spoke of being the fifth angel. He told her also, she said, that he was David and Elijah, and she made up her mind that he was insane.
"Did he preach against killing?" asked Mr. Conkling on cross-examination.
"I object to this," said Sharp. "You don't ask the woman if I said it was right to kill if they shot at me first. Ask her that and then let her tell."
"Very well," said the prosecutor. "Did he preach that it was right to kill if he was attacked?"
"No," said the witness.
Clara Price, a daughter of the previous witness, who also had not seen him for five years, said she had made up her mind that he was insane.
Andrew J. Price, an uncle of Clara, said that Sharp, when a boy, could bark like a dog and meouw like a cat more naturally than he had ever heard anyone else do. He was inclined to believe that this showed a rather unbalanced mind on the part of the defendant. Five years ago Price met Sharp in Stoutland, Mo., and asked him:
SWALLOWING FISH ALIVE.
"Are you still following your same old trade?" I meant," the witness explained, "the trade of gambling, as I had heard he was engaged in this and horse trading. He said:
" 'No, I am a different man now. I am preaching.'
The witness asked Sharp where he lived and says Adam told him:
"I've got no more home than a rabbit. Christ had no home, neither have I. I am the fifth angel."
The witness said he then wanted to "get shed of" Sharp and walked away. He did not attend any preaching that Sharp did.
Price said also that Sharp, when a boy, caught small fish and swallowed them alive.
This same fish story was told also by Eli A. Ellis, cashier of the People's bank of Stoutland, Mo. He and Sharp were boys together.
"I felt uneasy for Sharp and for the fish," said the witness. "When the lad would not stop I thrashed him, me being the larger."
The witness said that Sharp seemed to be a bad boy and didn't seem to care much for work. It was while Mr. Conkling asked this witness whether Sharp was not a publicity seeker that the fanatic shrouded himself with the banner of non-advertiser. Ellis said he thought the man insane. He had not seen Sharp for years.
Rudolph Indermuehle of Morgan had heard Sharp preach and tell people that he was the fifth angel and could not sin.
That was the end of the insanity testimony for the day. There was another witness, however, in the person of Joseph S. Waite, an itinerant furniture mender, who said he lived mostly at 553 Main street. After a grilling cross-examination by Mr. Conkling as to how he came to be a witness, Waite said:
VOLUNTEERED HIS SERVICES.
"Well, to tell the truth, I had some curiosity to be a witness here. I volunteered my services to Mr. Martin."
The witness said, on cross-examination, that he had heard Sharp attacking the public school system in a talk at the Workingmen's mission and that he had seen him put Probation Officer Holt out of the building. Further he heard the fanatic say that he would take the children on the street and defend himself and them. Sharp also talked of the authorities, said the witness, but in terms he could not remember.
"The last time I saw Sharp's gun it was by his side," said the witness and then immediately contradicted himself by adding: "I saw Sharp shoot at somebody after the first shots were fired. I couldn't tell who fired the first shot."
At the conclusion of this testimony, court adjourned for the day.
Labels: Adam God sect, courtroom, criminal court, Judge Latshaw, mental health, ministers, Prosecutor Conkling
May 25, 1909
"MY NECK, NOT YOURS
BEING TRIED" -- SHARP.
PROSECUTOR INTERRUPTED BE-
CAUSE HE OBJECTED.
Fanatic Causes Attorneys Trouble by
Persistent Outbreaks -- State
rests -- Defense's Plea In-
sanity and Self-Defense.
"Self-defense and insanity will be the defense," said A. E. Martin of Martin & Bailey, counsel for James Sharp or Adam God, when court adjourned yesterday. The state finished its case in the afternoon and this morning will be begun the taking of testimony on behalf of the defendant. It is likely that the case will be given to the jury by Wednesday night, if not earlier. Sharp is being tried before Judge Ralph S. Latshaw in the criminal court for the killing of Michael Mullane, a patrolman.
Sharp was much in evidence yesterday. There were times when he boldly took charge of his own case, ignoring his attorneys and accusing them of not following his instructions.
Once, during the afternoon session, when the court refused to admit evidence of the shooting at the river front, Sharp spoke quickly to Virgil Conkling, the prosecutor, who had made the objection:
"MY NECK BEING TRIED."
"This evidence has to do with the dirty work on the other side. They show up all the dirty work on me, and don't show up anything on the other side. Let's have a little justice in the house of God. This is my neck being tried, not yours, Mr. Conkling."
"In that case," said the prosecutor quietly, "I will withdraw my objection.
The answer of the witness, however, showed he did not have the information desired by the defense.
Earlier in the day Sharp had remarked that "things were not going as they should." In the morning he took his attorneys to task for objecting to the testimony of a witness. Sharp insisted that the man was telling the truth.
Throughout its presentation of the case the state has persistently combated the plea of insanity. It has attempted to show that Sharp at all times was possessed of a keen mind; that he dropped all claims of being God, or Adam, or David, or any other Biblical character, and that his mind was reflecting on the consequence of the riot in which five persons lost their lives.
The appearance of Sharp at this time and the acute manner in which he follows the words of every witness would seem to place him out of the insanity class, at least so far as the present is concerned. As to whether he knew right from wrong at the time of the shooting is another matter and one to be determined by the evidence of the defense.
Sharp himself expects to take the stand and when he does an exposition of his religious teachings may be expected. From remarks he has made in the courtroom and from the manner in which he has interrupted witnesses it may be surmised he intends to tell that the police provoked the riot and that he shot to protect himself. Sharp has longed for days to tell his side, in fact, from the first moment of the trial.
SHARP IS TO TESTIFY.
Today will open with the statement of A. E. Martin, his chief counsel. Then there will be witnesses and depositions from persons who knew Sharp and his band. Besides these will be Sharp himself. The state may submit some evidence in rebuttal before the case is argued and given to the jury.
It was while Goerge W. Robinson, owner of the barber shop at 952 Mullberry street, was on the stand that Sharp jumped up and said, addressing Judge Latshaw:
"Your honor, they are swearing my neck away. My lawyers let these witnesses say what they will. They don't object enough."
Then Sharp advanced to near the witness stand. A. E. Martin, one of his attorneys, objected to Sharp's interference, but the latter said sharply:
"Don't cross-examine him . He's telling the truth."
Eugene P. Barrett, a farmer near Olathe, who participated in the capture of sharp, was put on the stand after quiet had been restored. Barrett was watering his team by the roadside the morning Sharp came along. They exchanged greetings, said Barrett, and when there was noise of a horse coming down the road Sharp crawled through a fence.
"We object," said Mr. Martin. "There's no evidence here there was a horse."
"Yes, there was," said Sharp, getting up. "He's telling the truth. I heard a horse and went into a field until the horse was past."
Sharp was told to sit down and Barrett resumed his story. Said he:
"I next saw Sharp about 3:30 o'clock this afternoon, December 10. Mr. Bair and myself were in a searching party made up after word had been received from Kansas City about the riot. We made inquiry and found overshoe tracks leading to a straw stack about fifty yards from the road. This was about a mile from where I had seen Sharp go through the fence that morning. He was in a small stack of oat straw, in a hole the cattle had eaten, and there was straw in front of him. It was impossible for me to see him until I got within fifteen feet.
CLAIMED HE WAS PARALYZED.
"Sharp got up and said: 'I've been taking a snooze.' 'That's a good place to snooze," I answered.
" 'What are you doing? Hunting for rabbits?' he asked, and I said, "Yes, I thought I might kick out a few rabbits.'
"By that time Bair had come up on motion from me and Bair told Sharp to throw up his hands. He refused at first on the plea he was paralyzed, but finally put them up. Bair and myself searched him and found a bloody knife, $105 in bills, about$6 or $8 in silver and some small change tied up in a bloody sack in an overcoat pocket. We took him to the road and there turned him over to Sheriff Steed of Johnson county. Then we went home.
Sharp whispered to his attorneys and the witness was not cross-examined.
Joseph Beaver, a farmer who lives ten miles northwest of Olathe, told of giving Sharp a night's lodging at the request of William Thiry, his brother-in-law. He said Sharp told him and Mr. Beaver's mother he was a peddler, and that his partner had left him because he had become paralyzed. He added his wife had deserted him three years ago and taken the children with her. Sharp said he had been reared in Georgia.
"That night," said Beaver, "Adam slept on the lounge. The next morning I fed him, and told him it was time to move, and he went away. He told me his name was Thomas or Thompson."
Throughout his testimony, Mr. Beaver referred to Sharp as Adam. He was asked no questions in cross-examination.
When Sheriff John S. Steed of Johnson county, Kas., took the stand, Sharp nodded at him and smiled. The sheriff returned the salutation. It was to Sheriff Steed that Bair and Barrett turned over their prisoner as soon as they had reached the public road. Steed took Sharp into his buggy and drove with him to Olathe, where he was put in jail.
BLAMED SALVATION ARMY.
"From that time until the officers took him to Kansas City, Sharp talked almost all the time, and I can remember only part of what he said," related the sheriff. "When I saw the knife that had been taken from him, I remarked that the ferrule on one end was gone.
" 'They shot that off,' said Sharp. 'It looks like it had been through a battle. I cut a policeman in the face with that knife.'
"I asked him if he knew what he had done, and told him the result of the riot. He said:
" 'My God, brother, is that so? It wasn't me that was to blame' it was the Salvation Army. They have been nagging me everywhere I went because I had a different religion from theirs. An officer came out of the police station and shook hands with me. Then came a tall, long-faced fellow, who pulled a revolver and told me to drop my pistol. I commenced shooting then. I suppose I'll be hanged for this. But I want to make a statement first. I want to write a letter to my followers and tell them how I have been misleading them. Then I am ready to die.'
"Sharp told me he deserved hanging or being put to death."
Sharp broke in and asked:
"Told you I deserved hanging? No, no."
The sheriff resumed his story:
"Sharp told me he didn't know whether he hit anybody. He said he shot to hit and meant to fight to the death. He said he had his beard cut off so he could not be recognized. Mr. Leonard, an Olathe newspaper man, talked to Sharp and asked him:
DENIED HE WAS CRAZY.
" 'What defense will you make? Will you plead insanity?'
"Sharp said: 'No, I'm not crazy. I have no defense to make. I am guilty and ready to pay the penalty.' "
Further, Sheriff Steed related what Sharp told him about the meteor that started him to preaching.
"He said a meteor had fallen on his farm, a flaming star, and that he had given up his old life and had been preaching since.
"About the guns, he told me that he had bought them and told his followers to shoot anybody that interfered with his business."
Robert M. Bair, a farmer who lives near Holliday, Kas., corroborated the details of the capture, as previously told by Barrett. The latter was at that time employed by Bair.
" 'That's awful! What have I done? I don't care now for myself, but I am sorry for the women and children I got into this,' " the witness said Sharp told him.
"I asked if his religion taught him to murder, and he said: 'It teaches me to shoot anyone that interferes with my business of preaching.' Then he cried a little. He told me he was mistaken about his belief that bullets couldn't hit him."
James Martin, 10 Delaware street, negro watchman for a boat club on the Missouri river, talked to Sharp on the river front a few days before the shooting. The defendant, said Martin, told him he was Christ and loved everybody, and talked religion to him frequently. Sharp's boat was at anchor near the club house in question for a week prior to the shooting, and its occupants were well-behaved, said the witness.
"Did you see the shooting of the little girl on the river front?" asked Mr. Martin, on cross-examination
Judge Latsaw sustained Mr. Conkling's objection to this question, and it was then Sharp spoke up loudly, saying there had been dirty work on the other side, and that it was his neck being tried.
"No, I didn't see the little girl killed," proceeded the witness and he was excused.
WHEN FAITH LEFT HIM.
Soon after Sharp had been taken to Olathe by Sheriff Steed, John M. Leonard, editor of the Olathe Register, interviewed him. Leonard related verbatim the conversation he had with Sharp, at least that part of it he was able to remember.
"I asked him about his faith," said Leonard, "and he told me I could not understand it. Then I asked him why not.
" 'Ordinary people can't understand it,' said he. 'Only people of God.'
" 'How did the fight start?' "The police tried to drive me off the street.'
" 'Why?' 'The Salvation Army was jealous of my collections.'
" 'Did you see any of the Salvation Army around?' 'No, but they tried this plan on me elsewhere.'
" 'Where was your faith that enabled you to dodge the crowd and get away?' 'I think it was.'
" 'Why did you get your beard clipped?' 'I wanted to get away.'
" 'Where is your partner, Pratt? Didn't he get away?' 'No, he was lying on the walk the last I saw him. I suppose he was shot.'
SAID HE DESERVED HANGING.
"I then picked up his hat, and remarking on the bullet hole, said:
" 'They were getting close to your head.'
" 'Don't talk like that,' said he. 'If the bullet had gone through my head it would have ended a good deal of worry for me.'
" 'Do you know what they will do with you when you get back to Kansas City?'
" 'I suppose they will hang me or take my life. I deserve it.'
" 'Are you going to try the insanity dodge?'
" 'No.' "
The witness did not remember the answer given by Sharp when asked why he had given a wrong name to the farmer who had fed him, but he said he did not deny having done so.
It was at the close of Mr. Leonard's testimony that the state rested and court adjourned for the day.
Labels: Adam God sect, attorney, buggy, courtroom, criminal court, Johnson county, Judge Latshaw, mental health, ministers, Olathe, Prosecutor Conkling, Sheriff Steed
May 22, 1909
ADAM GOD TO DROP
PLEA OF INSANITY?
EARLY TESTIMONY INDICATES
Sharp's Mental Condition Is Not
Seriously Considered -- Witnesses
Describe the City Hall
That the defense of James Sharp, the religious fanatic, charged with the killing of Patrolman Michael Mullane, is to be self-defense was made evident on the first day of the trial, which opened yesterday in the criminal court.
It had been announced and it was the theory of the state that insanity would be pleaded. but during all the evidence heard yesterday there was no mention of Sharp's mental condition save alone in the statement of Virgil Conkling, prosecuting attorney, in which he outlined what the state expects to prove.
Perhaps it was because through Mr. Conkling's statement, reciting incident after incident of Sharp's life, from his religious doings in Oklahoma and Canada, through the city hall riot here December 8 and the subsequent flight of Sharp, ran the suggestion that Sharp was not insane, but, on the contrary, sane and exceptionally acute of mind. Out of every action on the part of Sharp the prosecutor deduced a refutation of the insanity idea.
THE MAYOR A WITNESS.
At the rate of progress made yesterday, it is likely that the trial will consume a greater part of next week. It is the practice of Judge Ralph S. Latshaw to open court early, to take one hour at noon for recess and to adjourn at 5 o'clock. Much time was spent yesterday over each witness.
It was while Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., was on the stand yesterday afternoon that the defense showed its change of front. In arguing for permission to ask the mayor certain questions, A. E. Martin of counsel for the defense said to the court:
"We propose to show that the police and the probation officer incited a riot at the city hall and followed the same persons who participated in the riot and killed one of them in a boat on the river."
The court refused to admit testimony as to what happened on the river front, as happening there were fifteen minutes later than the fight which resulted in the death of Mullane.
DEFENSE'S STATEMENT LAST.
Touching elbows with John P. Mullane, brother of the man with whose death he stands charged, Sharp heard George M. Holt, probation officer, give his testimony. The defense took advantage of its right to reserve its statement until the state shall have finished with its witnesses.
Holt gave his age as 46, his address as 3027 East Nineteenth street and his occupation as probation officer. At noon of the riot, he said, he saw Mrs. Sharp and the children of Louis Pratt singing on the street at that point. He watched them about five minutes, when they started north on Main. Mrs. Sharp, during the meeting, was inviting the public to a gathering at the Workingmen's mission that night. There was a hat on the sidewalk and coin in it. Mrs. Sharp took the hat.
"I followed the band and inquired about whose children they were," said Mr. Holt. "She went into the Workingmen's Mission and I followed about a minute later. Sharp was there talking to his wife when I came in.
"I asked him if this was his wife and children and he said yes. He told me he was Adam God, the father of Jesus Christ."
Hot told Sharp that he would have to keep the children off the streets if he meant to keep them in Kansas City.
THREATENED TO KILL.
" 'What authority have you?' Sharp asked me.
" 'I am an officer,' said I.
" 'Well, you blue coated -----,' said Sharp, 'I'll kill you or any other ----- blue coat that comes in here and interferes with my work in this city.'
"Immediately afterwards, Sharp pulled out a pistol from under his vest. Louis Pratt, who also was there, pulled out a revolver and so did Mrs. Sharp. Her husband put his pistol under my face and forced me out of the mission and as I went out hit me on the head. He called to someone to come out. Then I went to the police station to report. Before I had finished reporting, the shooting had begun."
"What part of the shooting did you see?" asked Mr. Conkling.
"All I saw was someone in the chief's office shooting at Louis Pratt, who was on his knees on the street. Pratt fell."
"How long did the shooting last?"
"Less than five minutes. About twenty-five or thirty shots were fired."
TO REVOLUTIONIZE THINGS.
The Rev. Sherman Short of Clarence, Mo., was at Fifth and Main streets when he heard the children sing and stepped up close enough to hear Mrs. Sharp say:
"The prophet will preach tonight at the Workingmen's mission."
Dr. Short testified yesterday that his curiosity was aroused.
"I went up to the mission and there was Sharp," said Dr. Short. "I asked him if he was the prophet and he said:
" 'My name is Sharp. I am supposed to be King David in the spirit. I am the Lord of the Vineyard myself and the people will soon find it out, for I expect to revolutionize things around here.' "
"Did he talk to you about force or violence?" asked Mr. Conkling.
"What happened then?"
"While we were talking the Pratt children and came in and said to Sharp: 'The humane officer is after us.' Then Holt came in and asked Sharp if these were his children. Sharp said yes and Holt told him they would have to be kept off the streets, if Sharp proposed to remain in Kansas City. I saw Sharp hit Holt and put him out of the mission. I saw him have a knife and a revolver.
"Sharp then waved his revolver and called out: 'Come on, children!' Mrs. Sharp and Louis Pratt and the two oldest Pratt girls all took out revolvers. They went on the street and formed a circle, facing the west sidewalk on Main."
"What did you do?"
"I went to the police station. I saw police coming out of headquarters. Patrolman Dalbow shook hands with Sharp and they stood there a minute. Then some other man came up. He was in citizen's clothes and he pulled out a revolver. Then there was shooting."
PRATT FIRED FIRST.
"Who fired the first shot?"
"And then what did you see?"
"I didn't stay long after that. I ran across the street. As I turned around I saw a man lying on the car track, shot. I learned afterwards that it was A. J. Selsor. Later I saw Mrs. Sharp and one of the Pratt girls brought into the station.
"When they formed their circle in the street Sharp, his wife, Pratt and the two oldest Pratt girls had revolvers in their hands. Sharp also had a knife."
Mayor Thomas T. Crittenden, Jr., said that he was in a council chamber on the fourth floor of the city hall when the riot began. He saw Louis Pratt kneeling, steadying his aim with both arms, shooting at Mullane. There was a little girl near Pratt, holding toward him a revolver, loaded with fresh cartridges. The mayor saw Pratt fall over, as if shot. Then the mayor went downstairs to police headquarters and out on the street.
"My purpose of going towards the river was that I had heard talk of lynching and wanted such an action to be avoided," said the mayor in explanation. He was not allowed to tell what happened at the river front.
MULLANE'S WIDOW ON STAND.
Mrs. Hannah Mullane, weeping quietly on the witness stand, told how her husband had left home on the morning of December 8, 1908, at 6 o'clock, in good health. Mullane died Decemberr 10, two days after the riot.
There was some delay when court opened in the afternoon, while attachments were served on physicians who were state's witnesses, but who failed to be on hand at the proper time.
Dr. William A. Shelton, 3305 Wabash avenue, was the second witness. He is a police surgeon. On the day of the riot he was called to treat Mullane at the city hall and later attended him at St. Joseph's hospital. Mullane, he said, had a bullet wound through his left hand and one through his chest just above the heart. The latter bullet struck Mullane in the back. Dr. Shelton probed for it, but could not locate it. He finally found the bullet on the operating table. The bullet was shown to the jury over objections of Sharp's attorneys.
Dr. Eugene King, surgeon at St. Joseph's hospital, examined Mullane at police headquarters and at the hospital. He testified as to the wounds and said he found the bullet in the patorlman's underclothing on the operating table. The course of the ball, he said, was from front to back. Dr. Shelton came from in a few minutes later, said Dr. King.
THE MORNING SESSION.
The dramatic incident of the morning session yesterday occurred while Mr. Conkling, in his opening statement, was arraigning Sharp as a religious grafter. While the prosecutor was in the middle of the sentence, Sharp jumped up and said:
"Your honor, these words this man speaks he will have to get witnesses to prove."
"Sit down, Mr. Sharp," said Judge Latshaw. "If you have any objections to make, do so through your counsel."
"I want this jury to hear the truth," persisted Sharp. "I didn't take up collections at my meetings."
Then sharp started to leave the court room but was brought back by a deputy marshal.
A short time afterwards, while Mr. Conkling was telling of the death of Patrolman Albert O. Dalbow, Mrs. Dalbow fainted and was carried from the courtroom. With her were a son, 8 years old, and a baby of fourteen months. She sat near the jury, close to a son and daughter of A. J. Selsor, who was killed in the riot.
Before Conkling began his address to the jury, there were brought into the courtroom gruesome reminders of the December tragedy. A rifle used by Mrs. Pratt in her fight on the river when she, with her daughters, Lena and Lulu, tried to escape. Lulu was killed by bullets fired from the bank. Then there were five revolvers, Sharp's large knife and ammunition. Also there was a shotgun and a rifle found in the houseboat of the band. the whiskers Sharp left in the Mulberry street barber shop, neatly garnered into an envelope, also were put on the table in plain view of the jury. In the afternoon the display of weapons was removed.
SHARP MAY TESTIFY.
With a changed plea, it is not so certain now that Adam God will be put on the witness stand. It was the first intention to make him back up the plea of insanity, but with a changed method of attack, this plan may be altered. Sharp is firm in declaring that he will be a witness, and as he seems at times to be not under the control of his counsel, he may make his statement before the evidence closes.
The riot of December 8, it will be remembered, occurred on the northwest corner of the city hall. There were wounded and subsequently died the following: Albert O. Dalbow and Michael Mullane, patrolmen; A. J. Selson, a spectator; Louis Pratt, a member of the religious band. Patrick Clark, a sergeant of police, was slashed on the face by Sharp and lost his right eye.
The trial will be resumed this morning.
At yesterday's trial the bible, which is his constant companion, lay on the table before Sharp, who sat facing the east windows, and therefore with his profile to the audience. From time to time he glanced curiously about him, but if it was with an y emotion, the feeling was not depicted by expression. Most of the time he sat with hands folded, elbows close to his side. Occasionally he stroked his beard or with his fingers combed tangles from his long moustache.
COURT ROOM WAS CROWDED.
Not an any trial since Judge Ralph S. Latshaw has taken his place has there been such a throng to see a trial. Not only all the chairs in the courtroom, but also the aisles, already narrowed by extra seats, held their capacity. Conspicuous among the number were a dozen or more well dressed women, who followed every step of the proceedings with interest. Among these was Miss Selsor, daughter of A. J. Selsor, killed in the riot. As the day wore on the crowd tended to increase rather than diminish.
The orderly quiet of it all was not lost on Adam God. Accustomed for years to rough treatment from crowds and officers of the peace, he seemed to feel the different attitude of the spectators in the court room where he is on trial for his life. Defiance of the law and its officers seemed to have passed from his mind, leaving him although perhaps not resigned to his fate, yet with the feeling that he was among those who meant to treat him fairly. At noon he told the deputy marshal who took him to his cell:
"That's a fine judge. He certainly will see that I get a fair trial."
Labels: Adam God sect, children, courtroom, criminal court, guns, hospitals, Humane Society, Judge Latshaw, Main street, Mayor Crittenden, ministers, murder, Nineteenth street, North end, physicians, police, Prosecutor Conkling
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Early Kansas City, Missouri