Clark Williams Vindicated
WILLIAMS, EVANS, MACY, ARMSTRONG, DELONG, STACY, SCOTT, GARRETSON, HUTCHINSON, LONDON, SPERRY, FOWLER, PROCTOR, FOUCH, WEBSTER, BAILEY, BABB, ISENBERGER
Posted By: Karen Brewer (email)
Date: 5/5/2016 at 14:00:56
The Osceola Tribune, Osceola, Iowa
May 10, 1906, Page 1
Judge Evans rules that state did not make
a case and orders verdict
The Williams case in court opened Thursday morning with the testimony of Prof. S. R. Macy who examined the contents of the stomach and also the kidneys and liver, and found the strychnine. He had with him about one grain of alkaloid of strychnine, which he had collected from the stomach. He also found traces of strychnine in both kidneys, as much as he usually found in stomachs of persons poisoned. He said he had often examined stomach of persons poisoned by strychnine. On cross examination he refused to state how long he thought it would the poison to act, saying that was a question for medical experts. He states, however, that one-half grain was considered a minimum poisonous dose.
Dr. Armstrong stated that he assisted at the autopsy and also attended DeLong day after death, and that he did not consider that he had any symptoms of heart trouble. Heart was not in his opinion so enlarged as to cause death.
E. E. Rarick identified the signature of Clark Williams.
Fred Moore testified that he saw L. L. DeLong have a bottle in his hands east of Harrison's store and that an hour and a half later he found a four ounce bottle near where he had been standing. There had been many people around the place where the bottle was found. In the meantime Moore gave the bottle to Andrews, the baker at the Arlington Cafe.
Andrews testified that he kept the bottle from Andrews and delivered it to F. M. Stacy, the clerk of courts. He had possession of the bottle over night.
Sheriff Scott identified the bottle which Roy DeLong delivered to him and which he took to the county attorney.
W. R. Garretson testified in regard to a sale of poison, 10 grains of strychnine which had been signed up for by C. S. Williams. This testimony precipitated a lengthy legal battle as to whether the evidence was competent but Judge Evans ruled that it should be admitted for the purpose of allowing the state an opportunity to prove that it was Clark Williams who really signed the register. Mr. Garretson had no recollection of the person securing the same and said that he did not at the time know Clark Williams. When on the stand later when he came to his store and denied receiving the poison.
Harry Hutchinson was called for the purpose of identifying the signature of Clark Williams but this was also the occasion of much wrangling but was admitted later in the day.
L. W. London exhibited a poison register in which appeared the name of Clark Williams for strychnine about 11 months prior to death of DeLong.
Roy DeLong identified a bottle as one he found in the buggy shed at their home on the Wednesday following his father's death. He said that on the Sunday after the funeral he had a conversation with Williams who told him if he found a bottle he had better not drink any of the contents as there might be something in it. He buried the bottle under a rock and left it there a month and then he and his brother brought it to town. He said he told the folks he had found a bottle on the evening that he discovered it but did not tell them where he had placed it.
L. B. Sperry said the name of C. S. Williams was on his poison register for one-eight of an ounce of strychnine. He did not recollect the purchaser and the only way in which he could connect Clark Williams with the purchase was by comparison with the signature known to be his.
P. L. Fowler testified that he had been five years i the banking business and that he had seen Williams sign his name. He identified the signature in London's poison register. he said in his opinion that the signature of C. S. Williams in the other register were signed by the same person. On cross examination counsel for the defense asked him to pick the genuine signature out of a bunch of seven names.
C. C. Scott was recalled in regard to the bottle he received from Roy DeLong and told of its receipt.
I. J. Fouch testified that he was on his road home the evening of DeLong's death and that Clark Williams passed him driving quite rapidly.
Mrs. Carrie Proctor, a daughter of DeLong, was called and asked if she had seen Williams and her father together a short time before her father was taken sick. She said she thought she saw them together in the park but was not sure.
Mrs. Ada Fouch testified to the same thing as her husband.
Roy DeLong was recalled and said that he had a conversation with Clark Williams in the presence of his mother, younger sister and Mrs. Williams, win which Clark stated that if the body of DeLong was exhumed and anything found suspicion would fall one some of the family. He said Williams told him several times his father died of heart trouble. Was present at Williams' house when his brother took the paper to get Mrs. Williams to sign it in which the children consented to exhuming the body (unreadable) an examination of the (unreadable) Said Mrs. Williams objected (unreadable) Clark told her to sign it. Was on cross examination that the conversation referred to above was held subsequent to the first autopsy.
H. H. Hutchinson testified that DeLong was in his office at the Hawkeye Lumber Co. the day of his death and that he purchased material for a house which he was going to erect in Osceola. Was there about three-quarters of an hour. Left there at 4:15. Seemed to be in usual health and good spirits.
T. B. Webster was recalled. Said he was employed by DeLong to assist at the autopsy. Said Williams was in his store between the first and second autopsy and told him in rather expressive language that he thought it was nonsense to waste the estate in that kind of business.
Homer DeLong said his father died intestate. That he and Williams came to town Saturday after the death and that Williams said several times that an administer must be appointed to look after the estate. Said he first heard of the death of his father about (?) o'clock in the evening and at once drove over there. Horton Bailey was in charge of the body. Williams told him several times that evening that his father had died of heart trouble. On cross examination said he was on friendly terms with Williams, that they had trouble seven years ago but that it had "blowed over" and that he had been to visit them several times. He had himself appointed administrator on the Monday following the funeral at his mother's request. Williams objected to the bond he had filed. On redirect stated that he was with his brother when they brought the bottle to town but never has same in his possession.
A. M. Babb stated that he had seen Williams in his restaurant several times shortly after the death of DeLong but that he had no direct conversation with him.
Court then adjourned.
The general opinion seems to prevail that the case against Williams is a very weak one and that there is no probability of a conviction. Public sentiment is almost unanimous in saying that there is very little evidence that tends to show guilt. The state will probably finish their side of the case today.
Court opened Friday morning with first testimony taken in the Williams case which was that of Homer DeLong who was recalled for further cross examination and was asked if he had told Fred Works when they were threshing at Isenberger's that if he would testify that he had seen DeLong and Williams drinking together prior to DeLong's death on that day he would make it right with him. Witness denied having such a conversation.
Mrs. DeLong said she had conversation with Williams after first autopsy and before the second in which he asked her if she was going to have the body exhumed again. She said she had not decided but if she thought it would help any in the convicting the person who gave him poison she would have it done. He said the only thing that it would do would be to fast on suspicion on her or decide that it was suicide. Had another conversation with him in Osceola in the fall in which he stated that if the case for partition of the land was not decided favorably in the district court he would carry it to the supreme court.
F. M. Stacy identified the petition for the sale and partition of the land. This was to show motive.
Prof. Chittick said he received the four ounce bottle from Sheriff Scott and examined the contents, finding strong trace of strychnine. He did not weigh it as the quantity analyzed was not sufficient to secure an appreciable quantity.
This closed the evidence on the part of the state and after a consultation between attorneys for the defense, Temple made a motion to direct a verdict for the defendant on account of insufficient evidence on the part of the state to sustain a verdict. The rest of the forenoon was spent in arguing this motion and the court took it under advisement until afternoon. He then directed a verdict for the defendant. The jury was then dismissed.
The public were well pleased with the action of the court for there was no question in the minds of those who had attended the case regularly that the evidence was insufficient to convict. In fact there was missing links especially in connecting Williams with the bottle which was fairly well proven to have contained the strychnine that caused the death of DeLong. Williams stands before the public entirely vindicated and the only deplorable fact in the case is that he was obliged to spend practically all he had in order to prove his innocence and all that without a possible way to recover. Criticism is being directed at the county attorney and the grand jury but we feel sure from our investigation of the matter that the cause of the fiasco is more directly attributed to the witnesses before the grand jury who were more positive in their statements there than in open court facing a severe cross examination. That is one of the great faults with the grand jury system in that it tends to allow people to speak too freely on account of there being but one side represented. however, there is no denying the fact that a great hardship has been put upon one of our citizens, and about all one can say is that it is only one of the seemingly unavoidable mistakes that occur under the present system of jurisprudence.
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