Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Murder in the First Degree”
City of publication: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of publication: 28 September 1901
Volume number: 10
Issue number: 8
|“Murder in the First Degree.” Afro-American-Ledger 28 Sept. 1901 v10n8: p. .|
|Leon Czolgosz (trial); Leon Czolgosz (legal defense); James B. Parker (dispute over role in assassination); Loran L. Lewis (public statements); Leon Czolgosz (mental health); Robert C. Titus (public statements).|
|Leon Czolgosz; Loran L. Lewis; William McKinley; Francis P. O’Brien; James B. Parker; Thomas Penney; Robert C. Titus; Henry W. Wendt; Truman C. White; John Wisser.|
Murder in the First Degree
Jury at Buffalo Finds Leon Czolgosz Guilty in Short Time.
ASSASSIN IS OF SOUND MIND.
The Trial Consumed Only Eight Hours and Twenty-Six Minutes—The Prisoner to
All Appearances Not Affected by the Fate Which Awaits Him—Was Impossible
to Save the President’s Life.
Buffalo, N. Y. (Special).—“Guilty of murder in
the first degree” was the judgment which Leon F. Czolgosz, the anarchist murderer
of President McKinley, heard pronounced upon him by Henry W. Wendt, foreman
of the Buffalo Supreme Court criminal jury, at 4.26 o’clock, bringing to an
end one of the most notable murder trials in the annals of the country.
Not so much as by the movement of an eyelid did Czolgosz indicate the shock with which the words of the jury’s foreman must have come home to him. His imperturbability was so dense that many said it showed it was nothing but a mask. When the verdict had been announced he was assisted to his feet and led out of the court-room to the jail.
The attorneys for the defense had been unable to secure experts who would testify that Czolgosz was insane and this destroyed their last vestige of defense. The fact that they would put no witnesses on the stand was communicated to District Attorney Penney and he agreed to call as few witnesses as possible in order that the day might mark the end of the trial.
The chief importance of the day’s testimony was the bringing out of an accurate account of the shooting of President McKinley, as told by sworn witnesses. Light was also thrown on the assassin’s motives.
Not once did a single witness mention the name of James Parker, the negro waiter who had been given credit in some quarters for preventing the assassin from firing a third shot at Mr. McKinley. According to the testimony, Private Francis P. O’Brien, an artilleryman of Captain Wisser’s squad, who stood near the President, is entitled to the credit which has been given Parker. Others besides O’Brien, including several secret service men, threw themselves on the assassin, but none mentioned Parker. The negro was in the crowd near by, but according to the witnesses, did absolutely nothing that was noteworthy.
The case was given to the jury at 3.51 o’clock. Twenty-eight minutes later the jury sent in word that it had reached a verdict. At 4.26, as previously stated, the verdict was formally announced.
Judge White was informed that it was the desire that the assassin’s right of reserving two days to himself before sentence was pronounced be not waived.
The court which tried the assassin was in session a total of 8 hours and 13 minutes. The jury was secured after 2 hours and 45 minutes. The actual time given to the examination of witnesses was less than five hours. During the trial not a single objection was made by the attorneys for either side.
“I am sincerely glad it is over,” said ex-Judge Lewis, one of Czolgosz’s counsel. “We did the best we could for the condemned man from a sense of duty to the country. We were supporting the laws of the country, which decree that every prisoner must have a fair trial. When we said we thought him to be insane we spoke the truth. No man could act toward us, his counsel and helpers, as he has done unless his senses were hampered in some way.”
Ex-Judge Titus, another of the assassin’s lawyers, said: “The experts who we called are the best in the country, and yet they failed to find a sufficient derangement in Czolgosz’s mental faculties for them to go on the witness stand and say so. We are convinced he is insane.”