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About The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 27, 1902)
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There are a great many legal precepts
that invariably awaken ridicule among
laymen, the wisdom of which has been
demonstrated by experiences encoun
tered by courts and lawyers since the
administration of laws began. One of
them is that it is not safe always to ac
cept as conclusive evidence of guilt the
confession of one accused of crime, for
men have been known to confess even so
serious a crime as murder when the
penalty was death, even though they
were never in fact in the least degree
guilty. Lawyers realize that It is not
always safe to trust human testimony,
even though it comes from a source the
reliability of which cannot be questioned
and is given in most positive terms.
Among the lawyers in attendance at
the session of the supreme court during
the current week was James E. Morri
son, now a resident of Gandy, Logan
county, but formerly for many years en
gaged In practice at Plattsmouth. He
was standing at the corner of Eleventh
and O streets the other day conversing
with several acquaintances when his at
tention was attracted by a passing fig
ure. It was that of an old-time Lincoln
printer, Marlon Armstrong, who had just
strolled ick to the city after an ab
sence of considerable duration. The
sight of him recalled to Mr. Morrison
memories of a murder trial that excited
considerable interest in this city nearly
a quarter of a century ago. It was one
wherein one Charles Vlall was accused
of tfce murder of William Armstrong by
aead-'Bg to him through the express office
a bottle of whisky doped with arsenic.
"That case." said Mr. Morrison,
"taught me the utter unreliability of
human testimony. I was associated In
the defense of Vlall with T. M. Mar
qett, D. G. Courtnay and J. E. Phllpott
while George S. Smith, formerly of
Plattsmouth. then district attorney, was
aided by D. G. Hull in the prosecution.
There were a large number of witnesses,
many of whom were called to prove that
there had been Jealousy between the two
over a woman In order to show a motive
on the part of Vlall. As the trial, which
was held before Judge S. B. Pound, pro
ceeded, it looked pretty dark for our
client, who was badly frightened at the
-It appeared from the circumstances
that whoever had sent the poisoned
whisky to Armstrong had himself taken
it to the express office, marked slmply
as A present from a friend,' and much
of consequence hinged upon the identi
fication by the express agent of the man
who brought it In.
"Daring the dinner intermission Mar
quett and I went to dinner together at a
down-town restaurant and talked over
the probability of the identification of
oar client, Marquett suggested that the
express agent, whose name was Chap
man, was near-sighted, and that we
might introduce another man for his
identification with a chance of success.
We tried to get a man named Metteer
to serve us in that capacity. He was re
lated to Vlall, but was not on good terms
with him and refused to do so.
"Just after we returned to the court
room Express Agent Chapman was
called to testify, and Vlall was noticed
to be as livid as a newly-laundered
sheet Without attracting attention we
had Viall move over to another seat a
short distance away, while I sat down
next to Marquett and was whispering to
him. After the usual preliminaries
Prosecuting Attorney Smith went
straight at the identification by asking
Chapman if the man who brought that
bottle of whisky into the express office
was In the room. The witness responded
that he was, and when the district at
torney asked him to point him out
looked straight down at me and without
a moment's hesitation pointed his finger
at me and declared that I was the man.
"Everyone In the court room was as
toanded. and none of them more than I
was myself, who had half wished that
he might make the mistake. Counsel for
the state were confused and almost en
raged. They invited Mr. Chapman to
step down close to me. examine me
closely and make his identification posi
tive. He did so without a change in his
cenclasien. Charley "Vlall was feeling
pretty good about that time. I can tell
yon, and the effect of the mistake of the
witness was at once apparent upon that
"Later Viall was pointed out to the
witness and he was 'asked whether or
net he was not the man. whereupon
TltS -again -became Hvid with fear. Mr.
Chapman examined hltcrltlcally and
finally announced with chagrin to the
court that he had been mistaken In his
first Identification and that the man
then before him was the man who had
brought in the bottle. But the mischief
had been done and there was no undoing
It There probably never was a more
positive identification than that which
Mr. Chapman had mistakenly made of
me, and Judge Pound suggested that If
he was so badly mistaken in the first
instance as had been apparent to every
one, hemight be mistaken In the last
Identification. The result was Inevita
ble. Viall was acquitted.
"Another Incident In that case taught
me the unreliability of human testimony
and the risk Incurred In accepting It in a
matter of life and death. The late
Oscar A. Mullen, court reporter, was
called as an expert to compare the hand
writing of Vlall with that upon the
package in which the poisoned whisky
was- encased. We had Vlall write over
and over again In court the words 'A
present from a friend.' Mr. Mullen care
, fully analyzed each letter with minute
care and finally announced his absolute
conviction that the specimens written by
Viall and that upon the package could
not possibly have been written by the
The trial to which Mr. Morrison's re
cital relates occurred on October 31, 1878,
and the Charles Vlall, who was the ulti
mately fortunate victim of the Inquisi
tion, Is now operating a restaurant In
one of the inland towns of this state.
by experience that women getiing on and
off the cars with packages in their
hands are more or less agitated. That's
when they drop things. At this season
of the year every day at the car barns
you can hear the motormen talk of
their "finds" as they, come In from their
A motorman on the Havelock car said:
"There are even more things found in
the street than on the sidewalk. Money
and parcels dropped in the street are
likely to remain undisturbed longer than
If dropped on the sidewalks. So the
motorman has practically the field to
himself. Once I found a pocketbook
that contained $25. I returned It to the
owner who rewarded me with fifty cents.
Another time I found a diamond breast
pin, for which I never found an owner."
The veteran always maintains hls dig
nity. In the mountains of New Hamp
shire I met one of the colored troops
who was still fighting nobly driving a
stage on a country route and I said to
"What Is your name?"
"George Washington, sah."
"Thatls a name well known to every
body in this country."
"I reckon, sah, it ought to be. Tse
been dribin' heah eber since de wah."
He (at the Christmas party) Are you
having a merry Christmas?
She Oh, splendid! 1 got more pres-
BRITISH COMMODORE IN COMMAND
Commodore Montgomerle of the British navy, who has been in charge of
England's part in the naval demonstration against Venezuela to date, is re
spected in England as a brave and diplomatic commander. Above Is his
latest photograph and that of his flagship Charybdls.
fie ffiamst of fa
ents than any of the other girls, my
new dress is driving them wild with
envy, Molly Is crazy because I've kept
Jack Horner away from her all evening,
and I've just snubbed Dolly Rlvalton so
that she cried.
DRS. WENTE & HUMPHREY,
OFFICE,. ROOMS 26. 27, 1. BROWNHLL
137 South Eleventh Street
Telephone, Office, 630.
C. W. M. POTNTER, M. D.,
Fhones: Residence. L925; Office, LKBL
1222 O Street.
DR. BENJ. F. BAILET.
Residence, Sanatorium. Tel. 817.
At office, 2 to 4; Sundays, 12 to 1 p. m.
DR. MAT L. FLANAGAN,
Residence. 621 Bo. 11th. Tel. .
At office, 10 to 12 a. m.; 4 to p. m.
Sundays, 4 to 4:30 p. m.
Office. Zehrung Block, 141 So. 12th. TeL 618
Photographs of Babies
Photographs of Groaps
129 South Eleventh Street
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC
BOUND IN A SUBSTAN
TIAL MANNER AT FAC
'tORT PRICES BT . . .
South Platte Publishing Co.,
Paper Box Makers.
Tenth and N Streets, Lincoln, Neb.
FREIGHT PAID ONE WAT.
Does Painting, Frescoing, Grain
ing, and Inside Decorating. Can
give you best service at reason
able prices would like to figure
THE BRUSH AND PASTE MAN
Phone 5232 2612 Q STREET
"The woman you see there," said a
floor walker in one of the large stores
recently to a Courier representative who
chanced to be standing near, "is a parcel
hunter." He nodded his head toward a
woman wedging her way along the
crowded aisle, closely scanning the floor
as she went
"They are an odd class," he contin
ued. "With the advent of the gift-buying
season, come a small army of peo
ple who make an annual practice of
searching the big stores and streets for
parcels and money dropped by shoppers.
Pedestrians also have a hobby of look
ing for things, and motormen have long
followed the practice In the business dis
tricts. Tou would hardly believe It but
eight out of every hundred women who
go shopping lose something before they
get home. Sometimes it is a small par
cel, sometimes money, and more often
valuables. Men are careless enough, but
they are just about one-third as careless
as women. When you consider the
thousands that invade the big stores
each day you can realize that hun
dreds of articles are lost Someone
finds them, of course. A number of the
lost parcels turn up at the 'Lost and
Found' counters of the various stores,
but the vast majority of things dropped
are never accounted for. The things
picked up range from a kid glove to a
well-filled pocket-book. Sometimes cost
ly packages of silk and fur are found."
The street-car motorman Is also often
rewarded by profitable finds. He knows
If you Want First Class Service Call on Us.
Piano and Fur
WE SELL WE CARRY
all grades of a fine line of Car
Coal riages and Buggies
OFFICE, TENTH AND Q STS.
was made from a kodak
photo of a Nebraska baby
whose parents reside at
Fairfield, Nebraska, and
Schaff Bros. Piano.
The Schaff Bros. Co. are
using this cut for a catch
"ad' all over the United
States, and call it "Cupid
at Play on the Schaff Bros.
Piano." By the way, have
you seen the new 20th Cen
tury High Grade Schaff
Bros.- Piano? It is one of
the finest Pianos made.and
can be seen at the ware
rooms of the
Matthews Piano Co. 0II2st Lincoln, Nebraska