Valentine Democrat. (Valentine, Neb.) 1900-1930, March 28, 1912, Image 2

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I. M. RICE , Publisher.
Receives Exhaustive Review and Dis
trict Judge's Decision is Affirmed
Other Cases Involving Numerous Of
fenses Investigated and Disposed of.
In The District Court of Cherry Cuon-
ty , Nebraska.
To the Honorable W. H. Westover ,
Judge of said Court.
We the grand jury heretofore im-
pannelled and sworn at this the reg
ular February 1912 term of said court ,
respectfully submit the following re
port and recommendations :
We have been called upon to inves
tigate charges involving numerous
offenses of various kinds and degrees
of gravity.
We note an undue proportion of
cattle stealing , seven ; libel , three ;
horse stealing , one ; stabbing with in
tent to wound , one ; and petty larceny ,
one ; assault with intent to inflict great
bodily injury , one : burglary , one.
Wenote an undue proportion of
charges of cattle stealing , and an un
due number of reports of such thefts
through the county. This crime which
lias seemed to be for some years on
the decrease , has apparently been re
vived , and we regret to note that it
seems to be quite prevalent in the
county. We have some reason to be
lieve that this increase is due to the
fact that the owners of stolen stock
have in some instances made pecu
niary settlements with the thieves ,
when discovered , instead of insisting
Tipon letting the law take its course.
We contlem this practice as having
a teudancy to encourage instead of
suppressing the crime of stealing
stock. And we recommend that in the
future in cases of this kind where it
can be proven that the owners of stol
en stock have compounded the felony
for a monetary consideration that a
prosecution be well as against the act
ual thieves themselves. j
We note a large amount of brawling ,
petty assaults , and an unnecessary j
handling of firearms in a threatening ]
manner among the people of this coun
ty , and we strongly urge upon the
proper authorities that all such cases
be vigorously prosecuted.
In various parts of the count } * , set
tled largely by Kinkaid homesteaders
who are not able to live upon their !
homesteads all the time , but have to
be absent for the purpose of earning 1
a livelihood , there seems to be an
epidemic of the crime of breaking In
to houses in the owner's absence and
stealing articles therefrom. It is re
ported to us that this crime is so com
mon in some parts of the county that
homesteaders are unwilling or afraid
to leave their homes at all. for fear
that when the } ' return that they may
find the contents of their homes , or
even the house itself , gone. We there
for urge the prosecuting authorities of
this county to pay special attention to
the prevention and punishment of this
class of crime. We have observed
that quarrels , litigation and crime
arises in this county from the hideous
ly incorrect system of surveys of the
public lands. It is doubtful if any
county in the state of Nebraska con
tains one half the number of wrong
fully placed section corners and other
monuments of surveys. The troubles
to which this gives rise are endless ;
and we strongly urge upon the coun
ty authorities that they render all sup
port in their power to our representa
tives in congress to the end- that a cor
rect and adequate system of surveys
may be had and made inHhis county.
On the question of public adminis
tration after due investigation and
consideration , we make the following
recommendations to the Commission
ers and the inhabitants of Cherry coun
The present system of handling the
poor of this county has been found to
be wasteful and detrimental to the
interests of the tax payers , allowing
petty graft in the furnishing of sup
plies and permitting many people to
become county charges without due
reason. We further find that there
are an increasing number of people
not sufficiently demented to warrant
their confinement in the state insane
asylum who should , nevertheless , not
be allowed to be at large. To correct
this state of affairs , the county com
missioners of this county , should at
their earliest opportunity make pro
vision for the establishment of a coun
ty poor farm and a tax levy to cover
the institution' and maintenance of
After due inquiry it has been found
that the annex to the Donoher Hotel
in the city of Valentine is three stories
in height and has insufficient means
of exit in case of fire and it is rec
ommended to report by this grand
jury that the owner or lessee be re
quired to equip said building within a
reasonable time with steel or fire
proof fire escape to conform to the
statutes of this state'governing such
structures. The same recommenda
tion is made with reference to the
Lake View hotel at Wood Lake , Neb-
* raska.
It is also recommended that addi
tional exits for use in case of fire be
installed by O. W. Morey of Valentine
in his Jewel Theater.
We would call attention to all the
residents of this county to the fol
lowing statute :
v "If any person shall wrongfully take
any horse , mare , gelding , foal or filly ,
ass or mule from the stable , lot , or
pasture of another or from a hitching
rack , or any ether place as aforesaid
having been lawfully placed , without
the consent of the owner , with intent
to injure , set at large or wrongfully
use. the animal taken , such person
shall be fined in any sum not exceed
ing $10.00 or be imprisoned in the
/county / jail not exceeding 3 ( three )
nionths , in the discretion of the court ,
and shall also be liable to the party
injured in double the amount of dam
ages sustained.
In accordance with the state law
we have inspected the county jail
and find a most deplorable condition
of affairs due entirely to its present
location in the basement of the coun
ty court house. The county officials
have done the best possible under the
circumstances , but it is of necessity
unsanitary and a menace to the life
of any party therein confined , and no
provision can be made for confinment
of women prisoners. It can not be
properly drained or ventilated , cleaned
heated or santary disposition of of
fal made.
Provision should be made without
delay for the building of a combined
jail and sheriff's residence , either by
special levy or voting of bonds.
In this connection the commission
ers should prohibit the use of this jail
by the village of Valentine.
13y far the most important of the
matters which have come before us
and our attention has been the mur
der of Charles Sellers on June 18th ,
1911 , by Alma Weed , George B. Weed ,
Harry Heath and Kenneth Murphy.
As the four above named persons are
already serving sentences of impris-
dnment in the penitentiary for life ,
the question of their guilt or inno
cence was not before the grand jury ;
but out of the murder there have
arisen a number of rumors and
charges Against various essons who
were supposed to be implicated in the
crime to a greater or lesser extent.
In this case alone we have examined
some eighty-five witnesses , and have
devoted to it the greater portion of
nine days labor. We have inquired
fully into the motive for the crime ,
and we have searched the county over
for witnesses who could give us any
information as to the motive , and as
to whether other parties were or were
not implicated in its commission , and
we submit herewith our findings in
detail :
In this connection we regret that
we cannot give the statements of the
witnesses examined , because our oaths
as grand jurors absolutely prohibit us
from divulging the testimony of any
witness except in a court of justice ,
and we therefore can give only the
findings which we make as a result of
the testimony of the witnesses.
The first question for consideration
before us in connection with the mur
der of P. Sellers was the question
whether or not the crime was plan
ned beforehand , and if so , when and
by whom , and whether or not certain
parties assembled at .the house of Mrs.
Heath , from which the convicted par-
ties set forth to the scene of their
crime , knew what was about to be
done , or aided , abetted or incited the
commission of the murder , or were in
any sense accessory thereto. The lisl
of witnesses whose testimony we
have taken on this point , is too long
to quote. But from the testimony ad
duced , we believe that of the parties
assembled at the Heath home on the
night of the murder , four had know !
edge that a crime of some kind was
about to be committed upon Charles
P. Sellers , viz : Eunice Murphy. Mrs
A. B. Jicath , Albert Colvin and Will
iam McGee. It is clear to us that
these parties knew that some kind
of an outrage was to take place upon
Sellers , and the fact , wnich was ad
mitted by all of them , that they took
no steps to prevent the commission of
the crime , places upon them in no
small measure the responsibility for
the hanging of Charles Sellers. It is
true that the telephone wires were cut
by the murderers within a very few
minutes after they left the Heath
home for the home of Hutch Jack ,
where the murdered man was staying :
bue we find that none of these par
ties made any attempt to use the tele
phone , although some or all of them
knew before the murderers left the
house that they were upon an unlaw
ful errand , and could have telephoned
safely immediately upon their depart
ure. And it further appears that
none of these parties in the home that
evening made any effort to reach a
neighbor's or to get to the scene of
the crime , or to secure help for the
victim in any manner whatever. Such
callous indifference to the suffering
of another is rare indeed in this coun
try , and we regret that we find it im 1
possible for legal reasons to indict
these persons as accessories to the
murder. We are advised that to con
vict a person of the crime of being ac
cessory to a murder , it must be proven
that such person aided , abetted , in
cited , procured , assisted or took part
in the commission of the crime , and
that mere guilty knowledge that a
crime was about to be committed , i
not sufficient to convict. Our best
efforts to prove that some person or
persons have been and were accessories
series to this murder have failed to
find or develop sufficient testimony
to justify indictment , or to justify the
hope of a conviction of any one. and we
have therefore been compelled to find
and present no indicements against
any of the parties named in this para
It has been openly charged that oth
er parties than the four convicted de
fendants were present at the time and
place of the killing of Charles P. Sel-
cers , and held the horses of his mur
derers while they were engaged in
the crime. On this point we have
taken the evidence of Harry Heath.
Hutch Jack , A. M. Morrisey , Eunice
Murphy , George Clizbe. W D. Glias-
pie. Clyde Rosseter and Anna Shoup
and others , and we have read the dqp-
ositions of George B. Weed , Alma
Weed and Kenneth Murphy and tlio
written confession of Harry Heath in
the Rushville Jail , and we have been
wholly unable to find that any person
whatever aided or assisted the mur
derers in the commission of the crime
or held their horses , or took part in
any manner whatever.
Among the persons implicated by
rumors and charged with participat
ing in this crime is Jesse V. West , 'a
ranchman in the vicinity. Mr. West
appears to have gone to the home of
Hutch Jack on the night of the mur
der at the request of Flora Weed , for
the purpose of preventing the four
men convicted of this murder from
having any trouble with the rtiurdered
man. [
Rut the testimony of every witness ,
and we have examined practically ev
ery witness who came before us on
this point , utterly fails to show that
Mr. West had any warning or knowl
edge or even intimation that a mur
den v'2.s contemplated or waa about to
be committed. It appears that Mr.
West rode to Hutch Jack's , a distance
of six or seven miles form his home ,
saw the light extinguished , and Mrs.
Jack retiring for the night ; saw no
sign of anything unusual or of any
trouble ; saw no sign of the defend
ants , and concluded that Miss AVeed
had been mistaken in thinking there
was going to be trouble between these
parties , and rode home. This fact , to
gether with Mr. AVest's nonappearance
ance at the coroner's inquest , and the
further fact that some members of
the AVeed family worked for Mr. AVest ,
and that others were visiting at his
home on the day of the murder , seems
to have given rise to a rumor that he
was a participant in the murder. AAre
find also from the evidence that Mr.
West sold a large number of cattle
soon after the trial of the four men
convicted of this murder , and it was
charged that he had sold these cattle
and spent the money for the purpose
of the defendant and assisting the con
victed men to escape the punishment
of their crime. It was reported to us
that one witness knew that Mr. AVest
was present at the murder , and that
he had sold his cattle to raise money
for the defense , and this witness be
ing brought in and interrogated flatlj
denied ever knowing anything of the
kind , or making any such * statements
AVe have examined Mr. AVest's bank
account , and we have found that his
cattle were sold in the ordinary course
of business , and that after paying ofl
some indebtedness upon them , and
some small bills of no moment , the
money is still on deposit in the-Bank
of Cody , and has not been paid out to
retain counsel , or to assist in th de
fense , or for any other purpose what
ever connected with this crime.
AArs find from the evidence that the
report connecting Jesse \r. AVest with
this murder is false and wholly un
founded , and slanderous , and that by
reason thereof Mr. AVest and his fam
ily have suffered embarrassment and
humiliation , and that a grave and se
vere injustice has been done to them.
Another person living in the vicin
ity of the crime , upon the hand of ru
mor has cast suspicion , is Joseph Ed
wards. He has been charged with be
ing an accomplice in the matter , and
with knowing before hand that the
murder was to be committed. In this
connection we have taken the testi
mony of twenty witnesses , and we
have failed to find any reason , basis or
foundation for such rumors and
charges. These rumors appear to
have their origin in unnecessary and
indiscreet talk emanating from"Mrs. .
Edwards ; but we find nothing to impli
cate either her or her husband , ex
cept merely female gossip.
Many charges have been started ,
and have been spread throughout the
country affecting the integrity of the
officers of the district court and the
county officials. It has been openly
charged among many other things ,
that $1,500 was sent through the First
National bank of A'alentine to Judge
Westover for some corrupt purpose
in connection with this case ; it has
been said that the Mormon church fur
nished $15,000 for the purpose of cor-
upting and influencing the court , its
officers , and the officials of the coun
ty ; it has been charged that the sum
of $160,000 was raised for the purpose
of corruption in the defense of the
murderers of Charles Seller , and oth
er persons implicated in the crime , of
which sum C. J. Anderson was report
ed to have paid or furnished $100.000.
This last statement bears upon its
face the mark of the wildest improb
ability. And although we have exam
ined practicallv every witness brought
before us. with the special object of
locating corruption , and dishonesty ,
\\e have absolutely failed to find tlie
slightest basis in any of the rumors.
AVe can find no evidence that the Mor
mon church raised any money for this
defense or for any puriwse connected
with it ; and it has been proven to us
positively that no sum of money what
ever was sent through the First Na
tional bank to AA7. II. AVestover. AA7e
can find no reason for any suspicion
affecting the integrity of the district
judge or any of the county officials ,
and there is not the slightest evidence
to justify a suspicion of corruption on
the part of any of them. AVe have
examined the bank account of the
clerk of the district court , the sheriff ,
the county judge , and the countv
clerk of Cherry county , and we find
nothing in any of them to indicate any
sum of money unaccounted for or re-
recievd from any corrupt source AVe
have further examined the records of
the county for the purpose of finding
out if possible what sums of money
were raised by the families of the
men convicted of this crime , and we
can find no evidence even tending to
show the illegal or improper use of
money bv any member of said families ,
while we do find that to secure the
amounts acknowledged to have been
paid to the attorneys for this defense ,
it seems to have been necessary for
their families to raise the money
by mortgages.
It has been openly charged and as
serted that the confession of Harry
Heath which had been placed in the
care of Mr. II. B. Skeen and by him
delivered to and filed with the clerk of
the district court , was wrongfully
opened .at a sort of secret or "star
chamber" session , with no one present
except the district judge and the attor
neys , and rumor has even gone so far
as to charge that part of this confes
sion was abstracted and that when
brought back to the care of Mr. Skeen
it did not weigh as much as it did
nhen delivered by him to the cierk of
the court. Jt has been said that a
part of this confession was removed
uid taken awav because it revealed
the nameh of otlUT uarties implicated
in the munU-r of Boilers , and that this
abstraction of part of this confection
was brought about by undue , im
proper and ooirupt means. In this
connection we have taken the testi
mony of narry Heath , who wrote the
confession ; Mr. Skeen , to whom it was
entrusted , and the judge of the dis
trict court , the county attorney , the
sheriff , and a number of other wit
nesses , and we find that the confessipn 1
is now in the same condition that it i
was when Harry Heath sealed it in 1
the envelope to be delivered to Mr.
Skeen ; that it has not been tampert-d
with , nor has any part of it been ab
stracted ; that after the sentence wis 1
imposed the four murderers of Sellers. 1
imposed upon the four murderers 1
OL Seuers , it was deemed advis1 1
ftbie to open this confession for *
the purpose of finding out if i
other persons were Implicated in
the crime ; that In an evening ses
sion of the court , all of the'officers of
the same being present , and the usual
evening audience , this confession was
opened in open court , and read aloud
by the county attorney in an ordinary
tone of voice , with no effort whatever
of concealment , and apparently with
no desire on the part of any one to
prevent the public from knowing the
contents of the confession. The con
fession not revealing anything of spe
cial interest to anybody , and being ap
parently of no value in the way of im
plicating other parties in the crime , it
was resealed in the original envelope
and returned to Ml * . Skeen. During this
this session of the court it has been
delivered by Mr. Skeen to the grand
jury , and by them opened and read ,
and identified in the presence of the
grand jury as the original and com
plete confession of Harry Heath. For
the information of the citizens of Cher
ry county , we hereby append a full ,
true and correct copy of said confes
sion of Harry Heath :
Confession of Harry Heath.
Rushville , Nebraska , September 21 ,
11)11. ) "This day and date I , Harry
Heath , write this statement. The 15th
day of June they had a picnic over
south and I came home on Sunday. I
took Flora to the picnic and came
down home on Sunday about' noon
and Jess West , Cotton , Burt and Alma
and Kenneth were there , when we
started to the ball game. Alma told
me about he and Kenneth went to
Lake and got shells and went over to
kill Charley and he was in bed and
they didn't get to see him , and he told
me that something had to be clone , he
said that he came in the house Sat.
eve and he heard Eunice tell him some
thing Charley had said to her and
they made her tell it over so they
could hear , and sh'e did not want to
but they made her tell it and when
she told hqw Charley had threatened
her , they , 'Alma and Kenneth went
over to Lake , and got some shells and
went over to kill Charley and he had
gone to bed. Now this is what Alma
told me when we were going to the
ball ground and Alma said he was
going to talk with George and they
started to the Diamond Bar and when
T and some other boy had got started
home from Lake , I told Kenneth that
I was going and tell Alma not to tell it
what Charley had said and what him
and Kenneth had done the night be
fore and we met them coming back.
They said they were going over to
see him Charley asked us if we
would go along and we had not gone
far when George said they had a gun
at the Diamond Bar that he would go
and get if anybody would go with and
Kenneth said he would go along so
his horse was tired and I spoke up and
said I would go with him and we got
to the Diamond Bar George went in
to get the gun and then Mrs. West
came and went in ; George said he
found the shells for him and then
Jesse came and went into the house
where G. and Mrs. was in there and
I was at the gate ; talked a little with
Flora when George came out and we
went up to our place. George called
Eunice out and he said he was going
to make Eunice tell everything Charlie
had done and said and they and Alma
talked there while I went after some
water : had to go by them and Eunice
was telling what Charley had said and
done they said they were there had
to be something done. George said
he would. Eunice begged not to do
anything with him that she would
leave. George said he would furnish
the rope which he done. Alma , Ken
neth and George all had guns and
when we qot over to Hutch's George
took the rope off his saddle and hand
ed it to me and he went in ; he said
before we got to Hutch's that he
would go in and talk with Hutch and
if Chas. was not there he would back
out and go to the Diamond Bar , that
Hutch would not think anything about
it. Alma and Kenneth went up to the
corner of the house and I stood at the
well ; thought I would not go any far
ther , but then I thought they would
be mad at me if I did not go , and Alma
and Kenneth went into his bedroom
and fetched him out. I just went to
the door and all the rest went in and
I had throwed the rope down by some
boxes was there , and they brought
him out. George said where is the
rope and put it on him ; so I done as
he said and then he said come this
way and went ahead and opened the
gates and Alma went in the barn and
got a rope and I asked him what he
was going to do with that ; he said he
was going to tie his hands behind him
which he done and George told me to
go out to a telephone pole and we went
to two or three and was talking to
Charley. Alma said not to say any
thing to him. I threw the rope over
the pole and Alma and Kenneth pulled
down on the rope and Gorge lifted up
on his body and he did not struggle
or strangle a bit and was. dead before
we had time to do anything , we were
so excited I didn't know what to do.
Alma wrapped the rope around the
pole some way , I don't know how , and
we went home. I seen then what we
had got into and got a team and went
to town. Kenneth wanted until mor ,
but I would not for I wanted to give
myself up as soon as I could , went to
Cody. If anybody were there besides
us four I didn't know it. George was
gone a quite a little while when he
went back after his horse. We did
not mean to turn Hutch's horse out
but we did cut the telephone. 1 held
the wire and George cut it with his
knife Alma told me one time up by
Medicine Lake that if there was any
body hanging around after his sister
like Char , was after Kenneth's sister
he would kill him and he said was
what Kenneth ought to do. and he
told me one time in A * , jail he knew
something was going to happen , that
his life was a blur any way and
there was a shadow over his .life any
way. Alma and George talked this
after they left Lake and decided to go
over there and was on their way when
I and Kenneth came back to tell them
to not to tell it down to the Diamond
Bar what Kenneth and Alma had done
the night before. I never thought of
such a thing I and Kenneth never
mentioned it ; we were riding along
with several boys , Mark an3 Fred
Chub < and Cotton McGee. 1 never
wanted to murder Charlie ; if I had I
had lots of chances. George told me
he had told Eunice that if Char , ever
bothered her and she would tell him
he would fix him , but he said he never
would tell him until coming home
from the picnic , and he made her tell
him , but she did not want to for it
would make trouble that she would
rather leave the country than to have
anything happen.
State of Nebraska. Sheridan County
I. Harry Heath , of lawful age , of
Cody , Cherry countv7 , Nebraska , being
firct duly sworn according to 'law , de
pose and say : That I am the Harry
Heath who did on'this 21st day of
September , A. D. 1911 , make in writ-
ins the foregoing attached statement.
( Siged ) Harry Heath.
Dated at Rushville , Nebraska , this
21st day of September. A. D. 1911.
( Seal ) II. F. AVasmund. Jr. .
County Clerk in and for Sheridan
County , Nebraska.
By Maude Gillaspie , Deputy.
It has been asserted and repeated
for life for each and ycvery one of the
ment papers by virtue of which the
four convicted men were taken to the
state penitentiary at Lincoln , and that
such warrant of commitment were
made out for term of three years and
not for life imprisonment , and that as
a result the prisoners would be free
in a very short time. These rumors
appear to have been based upon al
leged statements made by the warden
of the penitentiary. Sheriff Rosseter
and his deputies. We have investi
gated these rumors closely , and we
find that no such statements were
ever made by the warden of the peni
tentiary , the sheriff of this county , or
any of his deputies , and furthermore ,
the warden of the state penitentiary
of Lincoln has certified to us that
said warrants of the commitment were
made out correctly , in due and legal
forms and could bear but the one con-
atruction. a sentence of imprisonment
for life for each and every one of the
convicted men.
AVe believe and find , that one of the
main causes for the arising and spread
of charges of corruption in this mur
der case was the unprofessional con
duct of W. B. Kelley , one of the attor
neys of the defense. It has been
shown % to our satisfaction that Mr.
Kelley requested money of his clients
for the purpose of bribing a witness ,
or buying a juror or abstracting or de
stroying in the case , and that he open
ly told his clients that the money waste
to be used for one or all of these pur
poses. It has been fully shown to our
satisfaction that Mr. Kelley requested
a person whom he believed to be a wit
ness in this case , to change a state
ment or an affidavit made by him , and
sought to find , and asked what induce
ment ho could offer which would lead
such a witness to make such change.
It appears , however , that Mr. Kelley
was mistaken in the identity of the
person to whom he made this proposi
tion , and that such person was not a
witness in the case at all , and was not
the man whom Mr. Kelley believed
him to be. AVe are at a loss which to
condemn most , the moral turpitude
of the inception of this action , or the
bungling inefficiency of its execution.
It seems , however , to us conclusively ,
that no part of these plans of Mr. Kel
ley was ever put into executjon. and
we have been unable to find any rea
son for believing that there was any
corruption in the case , resulting from
his offer.
It has been brought to our notice
that one William Finlayson had made
statements in the village of Cody and
elsewhere prior to the sentencing of
the four men guilty of the murder to
the effect that he had been to Rush
ville and seen Judge Westover and the
attorneys and that he had fixed this
case so that the boys would receive
the lightest sentence possible under
the law. This statement being re
peated throughout the county gave
rise to an impression that some cor
rupt influence had been used by Fin
layson to effect such a settlement or
compromise , and caused great dissatis
faction. On this point we have taken
the testimony of every person to whom
Finlayson is 'known to have talked
on the question , and of Finlayson
himself , and as a result we find that
why Finlayson made some statements
of the kind noted they were absolute
ly and wholly devoid of truth or foun
dation. We find , as a matter of fact ,
that Finlayson was at Rushville to see
Harry Heath while in jail there , but
that he never saw Judge Westover or
any of the attorneys in the case on
that trip , and we further find that af
ter the present term of this court be
gan that Finlayson was so entirely
unacquainted with Judge AVestover
that he asked the court bailiff who the
judge was. This question of his to the
bailiff , asked within the last week ,
can not possibly be reconciled with
his previous statements made in Sep
tember last that he had been to see
Judge Westover and had made a set
tlement of the cases.
The agitation and excitement aris
ing out of the murder of Charles Sel
lers was particularly strong in the a
village of Cody , to which town the c
territory in which the murder was f
committed is adjacent , and in which t
all the parties concerned were well r
known. The citizens of Cody and its fcf
vicinity did not understand the rea fcc fcc
son for the acceptance of the plea of fcg
guilty of murder in the second degree c
from the four convicted men , or the g
reason for the dismissal of the charges t
against Eunice Murphy , and in view t :
of the hideousness of the crime both s
of these actions met with their strong IJs :
est disapproval , and their inability to s '
account for them some suspicions I
were raised and expressed as to the g
honesty and purity of the court and tl
its officials in these actions. It appears ,
that the suspicions \ \
pears were greatly
enhanced by some indiscrete remarks pe
of County Attorney Tucker , who. be- pa
jng questioned by citizens of Cody as a
to the reasons governing the disposi P
tion of the cases , remarked that the c :
state had been wronged the first time.
and would be wronged afr the approaching
preaching investigation by the grand hw
jury. This was taken to mean that hS
Mr. Tucker knew of corruption and S <
dishonesty in the disposition of these n
cases , and caused great indignation A
among the people of Cody. After fully hiw
investigating this matter , while we hiw
deprecate the language used by Mr. w
Tucker , we find nothing to indicate
that he knew of any corruption or that P > <
he meant Ins-language to be construed blai
in any such matter. ai
It has frequently been asked what stvi
were Judge AVestover's reasons for di vib
recting the acceptance of a plea of b <
guilty of murder in the second degree of f
from the four men accused of the in
murder of Sellers. It appears from the is
evidence and from what the grand jury
is able to gather , that the only object
'n puttin these'men upon trial after
they offered to enter such plea was to
secure a conviction of reorder In the
first degree with the death penalty.
If this had been undertaken It would :
have required the impanneling of four
juries in Cherry county , of men who
had conscientious scruples against the
death penalty in murder cases , and
who had never formed or expressed au
opinion with reference to the guilt or
innocence of either one of the ac
cused. The first requirement would
have disqualified at least one-third of
the jurymen called , as demonstrated
by experience in the trials of similar
cases in this district ; this , then , would
have left two-thirds of the voting pop
ulation of the county from which these
juries must be impanneled. Judge
Westover claimed that he had made a
careful inquiry in the southern and
western part of the county , and wajs-
unable to find or hear of any juror who
would be qualified under the require
ments under the laws of this state , and
entertained a great doubt as to wheth
er or not even one qualified juror
could have been impanneled from the
voting population of the county should
this have been undertaken , and the
voting population of the county had
been exhausted without securing a-
jury in either one or all of these cases ,
then the defendants would have 'been
entitled to their liberty without trial.
This was the condition , which was to
be avoided if possible. Another rea
son assigned by him for directing the
acceptance of the plea is that in all
the state's of this union it is custom
ary wuti trial courts , upon the pleas of
guilty being entered , to impose a less ,
sentence than would be imposed upon *
conviction at the end of a trial. A ,
third reason assigned is that had the
cases been tried itvould in all prob
ability cost the taxpayers of Cherry-
county from $25,000 to $40,000 to pay
the expenses , and should the trial
have resulted in conviction of murder
of second degree , or first degree with
imprisonment for life , or manslaugh
ter , and the accused " > jcape the death ,
penalty , then the expenditure of this
immense amount of money would
have been inexcusable. Und r the
pleas made by the accused the court
sentenced each and every on' ' of them
to imprionment at hard labor during1
their natural life. This seemed to be ,
in the judgment of the court , ade
quate punishment under all the cir
cumstances. And if the legislative and
executive branches of the government
will see to it that this sentence is
carried out. and that the accused re
main in the penitentiary , then no per
son can reasonably complain that the
punishment imposed is inadequate.
After a careful and thorough exam
ination of all the testimony .adduced
with special reference to finding out
whether or not any corrupt influence
was brought to bear upon the court
to secure the acceptance by rhe state
of a plea of guilty of murder in the-
second degree from these four men. it
only remains for us to say thatwe
find no reason whatever for the ac
ceptance of this plea other than those
given here in the above , and especial
ly guilty of murder in the second de
gree was secured by any corrupt or
improper influence whatever. After
a careful investigation of the whole
subject we are inclined to approve of
the acceptance of this plea as being-
to the best interest to the county of
Cherry and its citizens.
As to the dismissal of Eunice Mur
phy without trial , Judge Westover
made the following statement :
"That when she was arrested and
brought ba'ck to Valentine she had a.
preliminary before the county judge ,
at which time all the evidence against
her which could be found by the state
was submitted. This evidence was
taken by'Mr. Scott , the official court
reporter , and shortly thereafter tran
scribed by him. After a thorough ex
amination of this evidence I became-
satisfied under the law that the evi
dence was not sufficient to warrant or
sustain a conviction , and on the first
day of the term I took the matter up
with the attorneys of this afate. and
asked them if they had more evidence
or different evidence against her than
that produced at the preliminary ex
amination. They said they had not ,
and that the evidence at the trial
would not be as strong against her
as it appeared at the preliminary , for
the reason that at least two circum
stances which tended to indicate
guilt at the preliminary examination
had afterwards been explained in her
favor. There was , no disagreement
between the court and the attorneys-
for the state as tp the sufficiency of
the evidence to warrant or sustain a
conviction , and the attorneys of the
state were requested to dismiss the
case rather than to spend the time and
the public funds in what we knew in
advance a useless prosecution. The-
attorneys hesitated to do this on ac
count of the public feeling , but finally-
filed a motion to dismiss the case upon
the grounds that a plea of guilty of
murder in the second degree having
been accented by the court for the
four principal defendants , that she
sould then not be successfully prose
cuted as an accessory , while the
grounds stated in the motion were not
tenable , yet the court being clearly of
he opinion that the evidence was in
sufficient the grounds alleged in the
notion were disregarded , the motion ,
sustained , and the action dismissed.
have since reviewed the matter with
rreat care , and unhesitatingly state-
hat the conclusion reached an.'J upon
vhich I acted at the time this case-
vas dismissed , was correct in every
mrticular. and that I could not have
jxctised myself had I taken any other
iction whatever , or permitted th ex *
enditure of public funds in th ° prose-
ution of a case of which I knew must
all before it started. "
The whole investigation of this case
tas failed to furnish us any evidence
vhich would justify any change in the
entence as to the prosecution of Eu-
lice Murphy , referred to in Judge
Vestover's statement , and we approve
iis action in dismussing the case , and
t'e believe that in so doing that he
i-as guided by only honorable motives.
The killing of Charles Sellers ap-
ears to have been the most cold
ilooded and inhuman lynching in the
nnals of Cherry county , if not in the
tate of Nebraska. After carefully re-
iewing all the testimony , we do not
elieve the statements made in behalf
the defendants that the actual kill-
ig was unintentional or accidental. It
further alleged on behalf of the
( Concluded on page thrsoj