Source: Morning Oregonian
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Czolgosz on Trial”
City of publication: Portland, Oregon
Date of publication: 24 September 1901
Volume number: 41
Issue number: 12725
|“Czolgosz on Trial.” Morning Oregonian 24 Sept. 1901 v41n12725: p. 1.|
|Leon Czolgosz (trial).|
|Harry A. Bliss [first name wrong below]; Leon Czolgosz; Samuel J. Fields; Harvey R. Gaylord; Frederick Haller; Carlton E. Ladd; Loran L. Lewis [first name misspelled below]; Matthew D. Mann; William McKinley; Herman Mynter [misspelled below]; Thomas Penney; Robert C. Titus; Truman C. White.|
Czolgosz on Trial
Assassin of President McKinley Pleaded Guilty.
PRISONER WAS UNCONCERNED
Court Ordered the Plea to Be Recorded “Not Guilty”—Case May Be
Concluded Today—Physicians Gave Important Testimony.
BUFFALO, N. Y., Sept. 23.—Leon F.
Czolgosz was placed on trial this morning, charged with the murder of President
William McKinley. He entered a plea of guilty, which was subsequently changed
to “not guilty” by direction of the court. All the events of the day indicated
that the trial will be short. Court convened at 10 o’clock, and within two hours
eight jurors had been secured. Technicalities were not raised by the examining
counsel, but it was significant that every man who said he had formed an opinion
on the case was excused by the District Attorney. Those who acknowledged they
had formed an opinion, or stated that they were prejudiced, but admitted their
opinion could be changed by evidence, were accepted by each side. Justice Truman
C. White, one of the oldest and most experienced of the Supreme Court Judges,
was on the bench. Immediately after the opening of the court, and after the
prisoner had pleaded, Justice Lorn L. Lewis, senior counsel for the defendant,
announced that, together with his colleagues, ex-Justice Robert C. Titus and
Carlton E. Ladd, they were ready to act in behalf of the prisoner.
“I thought it best,” he said, “for my colleagues and myself, that I should say something regarding our presence here as attorneys for the defendant At the time my name was suggested I was out of the city, and knew nothing of what was transpiring here with reference to the selection of counsel for the defendant. When the circumstances of my selection were told to me, I was extremely reluctant to accept. But the duty had been imposed, and I considered it my duty, in the light of all the circumstances, to defend this man. I ask that no evidence be presented here—that the court will not permit the acceptance of any evidence—unless it would be accepted at the trial of the most meager criminal in the land.”
“I am familiar with these circumstances,” said Justice White, in reply, “and I wish to say I will give you every assurance that the prisoner will have a fair and impartial trial. During the progress of the trial he will receive such treatment as the law demands in any criminal case.”
Securing the Jurors.
The work of securing the jurors
was then undertaken, with a celerity that was amazing. Before the day was over
the entire panel had been sworn, the jurors had listened to a description of
the Temple of Music, where the crime occurred; had seen photographs of the interior
of that structure, and had been told by three surgeons what had caused the death
of the President, and the effect of the assassin’s shot upon the various organs
of the body. They had also learned why the fatal bullet had not been located.
The presentation of the Government’s case began shortly before 3 o’clock, when Assistant District Attorney Haller began with much deliberation to address the jury. He spoke very briefly.
“We shall show,” said he, “that for some days prior to the shooting, this defendant had premeditated the shooting of the President. He knew that on the 6th of September the President would receive the populace in the Temple of Music; that on that day he went to the exposition, got into line with the people and approached the President; that he had a weapon concealed in his hand, and as the President extended his hand in kindly greeting, he fired the fatal shot. He fired two shots, in fact. One of them took effect in the abdomen, and caused the mortal wound which resulted in the President’s death. That, in brief, is what we shall prove to you. Witnesses will tell you this story, and I am sure that when you have heard the evidence you will have no difficulty in reaching a verdict of murder in the first degree.”
The first witness was Samuel J. Fields, chief engineer of the Pan-American Exposition, who described the ground-floor plan of the Temple of Music, and was followed by Perry A. Bliss, a photographer, who presented views of the interior of the building. The remainder of the afternoon was taken up with the testimony of three physicians, two of whom had attended the President during his last days, while the other performed the autopsy. The latter, Dr. Harvey R. Gaylord, was the first of the three to be called. He described the location of the wounds in the stomach, and the direction of the bullet. The cause of death was attributed to the gunshot wound, but, fundamentally, he said, it was due to the changes back of the stomach, in the pancreas, caused by the “breaking down” of the material of the pancreas as a result of the passage of the bullet.
Dr. Herman Minter followed, and his testimony was of importance, inasmuch as it brought out the fact that the reason for the non-location of the fatal bullet at the autopsy was because of the unwillingness of the President’s relatives to have the body further mutilated by their instruments. Dr. Minter and Dr. Mann, who followed him, both testified that the primary cause of death was the gunshot wound in the stomach. One effect of this wound was, they said, to cause the gangrene to form in the pancreas, and the spot of poisoned tissue was as large as a silver dollar.
The prisoner, Czolgosz, during the morning, evinced no interest whatever in the proceedings, but as the testimony was introduced he paid more attention to what was being said, and looked at the various witnesses closely.
The probable duration of the trial, it is believed, can be placed at two full days. When District Attorney Penney was asked by Justice White at the noon hour as to the time he would take in the presentation of his case, he declared he would conclude by Tuesday noon. Judge Titus, for the defense, was noncommittal, however, and merely replied: “That depends upon the turn things take.” It is not probable that any defense will be put in, owing to the character of the prisoner and his refusal to help his attorneys in any way to procure evidence which they could use in his favor. The idea of an attempt to enter the question of his sanity is not thought of, in view of the reports of the two alienists who have recently examined him, and there is ground for the belief that the trial will be concluded with a session of but one day more.