Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chivalry Justice in 1918

FULL TEXT: Chicago, May 3. — Statistics show it is safer for a woman to kill in Chicago than to steal a dollar’s worth of merchandise or gamble.

Twenty-six of the 27 women brought to trial on charges of murder in this city in the last 12 years have been acquitted by Cook county juries, while the records show that about 75 per cent of the women tried for larceny and other misdemeanors have been convicted.

In addition to this a score or more women charged with assault with a deadly weapon have escaped punishment.

The only women found guilty of murder in this period was Mrs. Virginia Troupe, who was convicted of killing her husband, W. D. Troupe, several years ago, and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonmentIn a large majority of the cases the defendants confessed, but pleaded extenuating circumstances. Most of the killings grew out of domestic disputes, the women pleading justification on the ground that they had been neglected or cruelly treated. Self defense was the plea of the fair defendants in half a dozen cases.

Every one of the cases has been vigorously prosecuted by the state but without, success. In several instances the jury was even urged to inflict the death penalty because the act seemed premeditated and lacking in extenuating circumstances.

In view of this record unusual interest is being manifested by the public in the case of Ruby Dean, a pretty cabaret singer, on trial in the criminal court charged with the murder of Dr. Leon Quitman. Criminalogists and sociologists are closely watching this trial.

Maclay Hoyne, state’s attorney, often has declared that it is impossible to convict a woman of murder in Cook county.

“Jurymen seem to be influenced by sentiment, sympathy or the personality of the defendant,” said State’s Attorney Hoyne. “The average jury apparently believes every story told by a pretty defendant and will not accept facts as shown by the evidence."

A list of the women acquitted of the charge of murder by Cook county juries in recent years follows:

Mrs. Dora McDonald, acquitted of killing Webster Guerin.

Lucille McLeod, acquitted of killing Walter Neimann.

Miss Estelle Stout, acquitted of killing Henry Hornberger.

Mrs. Jane Quinn, acquitted of killing John M. Quinn.

Mrs. Rene B. Morrow, acquitted of killing Charles B. Morrow.

Mrs. Sadie Blaha, acquitted of killing Morris Sturm.

Mrs. Louise Vermilye [sic], charged with poisoning Policeman Arthur Bissonette, R. T. Smith and others; jury disagreed and case was dropped.

Mrs. Harriet Burnham, acquitted of killing Herbert E. Burnham.

Mrs. Florence Bernstein, acquitted of killing husband.

Mrs. Lena Muso, acquitted of killing Peter Muso.

[“Safer For Women To Kill Than Steal In Chicago Town,” The Evening Independent (Massilon, Oh.), May 3, 1918, p. 9]

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