Sioux County, Iowa

Newspaper Articles

February 13, 1888 - Death & Ensuing Murder Charges in the death of Mary Lester


Alton Democrat
February 18, 1888

Wm. Lester’s wife near town died very suddenly last Monday and a few people thought suspiciously. Coroner Quigley was sent for, but he refused to hold an inquest after examining the body and pronouncing it a natural death.

Alton Democrat
March 3, 1888

The Coroner’s Jury Says That Mrs. Lester
Was Murdered By a Person or Persons To Them Unknown.

On the morning of February 13th, Mrs. Mary Lester, wife of Wm. Lester, residing in Welcome township, this county, was found dead, lying on the floor of her home. The lady enjoyed ordinary health, at the time and the fact that quarrels had taken place between her and her husband and between her parents and husband led Mr. Hunt, father of the deceased woman, to wire Coroner Quigley. The doctor came, examined the corpse and decided that she had died of heart disease.  It seems she had fallen on the kitchen floor between two chairs and every indication pointed to her dropping dead, while doing her daily work.  She was buried but Mr. Hunt and family were not satisfied and so last Thursday Dr. Quigley was again sent for, the corpse was exhumed and Dr. Quigley, assisted by other physicians, made a post-mortem examination. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent in collecting witnesses and on Monday the Coroner’s Inquisition was opened at Orange City. Many witnesses were examined and the evidence was not submitted to the jury until Thursday, when to the surprise of those who were watching the case, the following verdict was found:
State of Iowa,
Sioux County,
At an inquisition holden at Orange City, Iowa, on the first day of March, A.D., 1888, before W. A. Quigley, M.D., Coroner of said county, upon the body of Mrs. Mary Lester, there lying dead, by the jurors whose names are hereto subscribed, the said jurors upon their oaths do say that the said Mrs. Lester died at her home in Welcome township, Sioux county, Iowa, on the 13th day of February, 1888, between nine and fifteen minutes after nine, on the morning of the above date, from dislocation of the neck, feloniously at the hands of a person, or person unknown to us.
In testimony whereof, the said jurors have hereunto set their hands the day and year aforesaid.
John P. Sheldon,
Charles M. Hollister
Robert S. Taylor.
W. A. Quigley, Coroner of Sioux county, Iowa.
This leaves the case open for investigation by the grand jury. The effect of the verdict is that they will probably indict William Lester for the murder of his wife. THE DEMOCRAT has no opinion to express and it advises its readers and the people of the county to refrain from expressing any. Let the law take its course and let the clear light of a searching investigation shine upon this mysterious case. If murder has been done, let justice be dealt the guilty one, and if not, let no one assist in clouding the name of an innocent man.

Alton Democrat
April 14, 1888

William Lester is Arrested,

At 4 o’clock Thursday afternoon, William Lester was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Schaap, upon an information sworn out by Mortimer Hunt, on the charge of murder in the first degree. Our readers will remember that Mrs. William Lester was found dead in her home on the 13th of February, having died suddenly and under, what her father and mother thought, suspicious circumstances. A corner’s inquest was held and a verdict returned that she came to her death feloniously at the hand of some person or persons unknown. One the 3d of April, Mortimer Hunt swore out an information before Squire A. Van der Meide, of Orange City, charging William Lester with the murder of his wife, but for reasons best known to the prosecution, Mr. Lester was not placed under arrest until the afternoon of the 12th as stated above. The deputy sheriff found him busy at work on his farm, plowing.

He was brought to Orange City and Friday morning a DEMOCRAT reporter interviewed him.  Mr. Lester stoutly maintained his innocence and says that he will prove it. He is certainly calm and collected and looks like an innocent man. The preliminary examination began Friday before Squire Van der Meide, but we go to press too early to obtain the result. Mr. Hunt has engaged G. W. Argo, of LeMars, to assist County Attorney Hutchinson, in the prosecution, while Attorney W. S. Palmer, of Orange City, has been retained by the defense.

Alton Democrat
Saturday, April 21

Testimony Given in the Lester
Preliminary Examination at Orange City.

As stated last week, A. W. Lester was arrested, charged with the murder of his wife, Thursday afternoon, on a complaint sworn out by Mortimer Hunt, father-in-law of the accused. The preliminary examination was postponed until Tuesday morning, and Mr. Lester was practically released upon his own recognizance. Although in charge of the sheriff, he roomed and boarded at the Betten House, and came and went, without surveillance of an officer. The following is the information sworn out by Mortimer Hunt:

In the Justice Court of the State of Iowa, in and for Sioux county:
State of Iowa
A. W. Lester     ……Before A. Van der Meide, Esq.

The defendant A. W. Lester, is accused of the crime of murder in the first degree, committed as follows:  That on or about the 13th day of February, A. D. 1888, in Welcome township, in Sioux county,, and state of Iowa, the said defendant A. W. Lester, then and there being, did willfully, maliciously, feloniously, premeditatedly and of malice aforethought, with the specific intent to kill and murder one Mary Lester, with the hands of him, the said A. W. Lester did forcibly feloniously, premeditatedly, with malice aforethought, seize and take hold of the head and neck of her, the said Mary Lester, and turn and twist the head of and neck of said Mary Lester, around, and did dislocate and break the neck of the said Mary Lester, by the means aforesaid, and in the manner aforesaid, with specific intent to murder said Mary Lester, the said A. W. Lester, did unlawfully, feloniously, premeditatedly and of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder the said Mary Lester, contrary to the laws and peace and dignity of the State of Iowa.
Wherefore the complaintant demands that the defendant, A. W. Lester, be apprehended and dealt with according to law.  MORTIMER HUNT.
Sworn to before me and subscribed in my presence by said Mortimer Hunt, this 3rd day of April, A. D. 1888. 
JUSTICE of the Peace.

At 10:30 Justice Van der Meide called court to order. The magistrate ordered all witnesses kept out and that they be kept separated with an exception in favor of the prosecuting witness during trial.  G. W. Argo and William Hutchinson appeared for the prosecution, while W. S. Palmer appeared  for the defense.  A motion by the defense that G. W. Argo be excluded from the trial or show is authority for aiding in the prosecution of this case, was over ruled by the justice.

My name is Mortimer Hunt, age 66; I have resided in Sioux county over seven years; I have known A. W. Lester since 1878; His wife, Mary Lester, was my daughter; she was married to him in September, 1879, and moved to Sioux county in 1881. I last saw my daughter alive at my home on Saturday, Feb. 11th. I next saw her on Monday, the 13th, at Lester’s house, dead; my wife, Henry DeWilt and wife, Jenette Hunt, Lester and children were there. She was lying on the bed; I did not alke with Lester about her death, I saw Lester in Hull, about noon that day; he told me that Mary fell dead on the floor, that morning; Lester appeared very excited; I talked with him that day after her burial; about her death and he appeared excited and he asked me if I thought anything was the matter with Mary’s neck.  I also talked with him on the 7th day of March.  My wife told him that he murdered Mary, and I told him when the grand jury set this affair would come to court and he would have to prove he did not do it.  He said: “how can I prove that I did not do it?” He acted all the time as though he couldn’t hold himself and hung his head down. When Mary first married him, he made her husk corn to pay his board. He often called her a damn fool and cursed and swore at her. One time she was sick at my house, he cursed and swore at her, because she complained of her clothes, and threatened to shoot her.  This was a long time ago. The next morning after Mrs. Lester’s death, I noticed the right side of her neck was black and blue; there were three streaks under her jaw and around her neck; the lower part of her ear also looked bruised, the marks looked as thought they had been caused by some person’s hands; I did not examine, or see her neck examined, to see if it had been broken. The night I saw her lying dead, I did not kiss her, nor did I touch her at all, nor did I see my wife turn her over or touch her. I had not suspicions or motive then for examining the body. My wife did not tell me to prosecute Mr. Lester, I employed G. W. Argo to help prosecute Mr. Lester. I only know by what Mrs. Lester told me that she husked corn to pay for Lester’s board back in Carroll county. I don’t know anything personally.  My daughter Anna husked corn for me the same winter. I have talked over all I have testified to today with my family.  I have some trouble with my family; my wife has at times caused me trouble; Mrs. Lester never complained to me of her husband. I remained at Lester’s house the night after Mary’s death and the next morning my wife called me to the bedside and she asked me to notice Mary’s throat. Mr. and Mrs. DeWilt were in the room at the same time. Neither myself or wife said anything to the De Wilts’ about it.  I do not know what caused the marks on Mary’s neck.  I had the post-mortem examination held and paid for it.  My wife told me to have that examination held so as to find if Mary’s neck was dislocated or broken.  After the corner’s jury had rendered a verdict my wife told me it confirmed her suspicions. I do not know whether my wife hates Lester with a deathly enmity, but I propose to hunt down this thing. My family and I have talked together about the facts of the trial, and what we know.

My wife accused Lester of murdering Mary. At home, in the family my wife had said that Lester murdered her, and they were going to prove it on him. We didn’t speak it out until after the coroner’s verdict. We had talked many times about it, but not before the coroner’s verdict, did we accuse Lester of murdering her.  On Wednesday night after her death, we all talked in our home, about her death and I, that night said I supposed she had been murdered.  On the night after Mrs. Lester’s death, my wife insinuated that he neck looked like a chicken’s neck that had been choked. What I and my wife and family knew about this case, we told each other.  I do not hate Mr. Lester in the least.

My name is S. Schutt; reside in West Branch township; farmer; I do not know Lester very well; I met him at Mr. Gravenhuis’ the day Mrs. Lester died; Mr. Lester told Mrs. Gravenhuis that his wife suddenly died, and the doctor said she died of heart disease.

I was at Lester’s in 1886, most all the time after the twins were born; While I was there Lester called his wife a damfool about once a week; when I first went there Mrs. Lester was unable to work; he thought his wife could work, instead of having a hired girl, and that is the reason he swore at her; he also said she was extravagant; I live with my brother, Charles; while living with Lester, he abused her about a pipe which Victor gave away, and he cursed her and she got worse after that; she hadn’t been able to do any housework up to that time.  Mr. Lester took me to his house the morning of Mary’s death.  She had been getting the clothes ready to wash. Her body was lying on the bed when I got there with a pillow beneath her head; this pillow had no slip, but the other one had a dirty one. When Mr. Lester came for us that morning he came in a hurry, he did not cry; when we got to his house, mother sent to Hull, for Doctor Coad. When he got back from Hull, Lester stood outside the house, near the window, while the body of his wife was being examined; I thought nothing of his standing at the window at the time; at home we have talked about this circumstance.

My name is Henry Van der Wilt; I live in Orange City; I know Mr. Lester; I was at Lester’s the night after Mrs. Lester died; my wife got there about noon that day; I remained there all night; my wife and I dressed the corpse; there were no marks or bruises on the body; I looked at her body the next day and I saw her neck was blue; Mr. Lester was there when I got there; he cried a little when he went to the bedside with the little twins; Lester held the twins on his lap nearly all night; When we dressed the body, old Mrs. Hunt told us to look over the body carefully, I intended to look good because of some talk which I heard old Mrs. Hunt say; I looked carefully and I could not see any marks or signs on the body that time; if there had been any marks on the neck of Mary Lester that night, my wife and I would have seen them, but we did not see any marks at all; when we washed and dressed the body, it was stiff; the neck was stiff too; my wife tried to lift the head of the dead woman to cut off a lock of hair, but the neck was so stiff she couldn’t, I had to raise the whole body to get the head up from the pillow; The next day we looked at the body and saw the marks on the neck, it was blue, but the night before when we dressed the body there were no such marks there. I was at Lester’s all the next day after the death; I did not see Lester at any window leaning against the house or listening.

My name is Lizzie Castine; I worked 4 weeks for Mr. Lester four years ago. Lester and his wife once had trouble, when I was out doors, and when I came in she was crying. She told me that had had a quarrel. That is the only trouble I ever heard them have.

My name is Lavina Hunt. I am fourteen years old, am a sister to Mrs. Lester; I have heard Mr. Lester call his wife a dam b---h and I don’t know what all: he called her that many times; Lester once broke down a door in the night and cursed her; I was living with them then and had gone to bed and so had Mrs. Lester, Lester said he was going to sleep in the barn that night; I never saw him strike his wife; I went over to Lester’s the morning Mrs. Lester died, to borrow lye; I rode over on a mule and was there ten minutes, Mr. Lester was cleaning out the stable, and Mrs. Lester was sitting on a chair, and in her accustomed health as far as I could see, that was the last time I saw her alive; I rode home, put the mule in the stable, and got to the door of the house, and I saw Lester coming, he came up fast as the horses could go, and said: “Mary has got another spree,” and my mother got in the sled with him and went with him. I went over to Lester’s again that day, after dinner; Mary was dead then; if I tell a lie I won’t go to heaven; I don’t know what an oath is; mam and pap told me to tell the truth, mam and pap never whipped or scolded me in my life; I went over to Lester’s that morning to borrow some lye; mother me told to go, because we were going to wash. I hitched the mule to the hog pen and went into Lester’s house; she got up and got the lye for me; we only talked a little while, and she gave me a can of lye that had never been opened, my mother always told me to stay and talk with Lester’s a little while when I went up there; I unhitched the mule and rode up to the door, and Mrs. Lester came out and handed me the lye.

I have known Mr. Lester five years, I went to Lester’s house about noon, the day Mrs. Lester died; when I got there they body was lying on the bed; I was there all that, and the next day. One the forenoon of the second day, I saw streaks on her neck, it was blue, and as the day passed her whole neck and part of face got blue. The day she died I did not notice any streaks or marks on her neck or face. Mrs. Hunt, the day that Mary died, thought that maybe Mrs. Lester took poison, there was poison in the house, but the cork and bottle was covered by dust and we thought the bottle had not been touched. Old Mrs. Hunt also said that Mary had been abused to death.  Mrs. Lester told me once that Lester swore sometimes at her, but that he never laid hands on her, or ever tried to lay hands on her. I heard Mrs. Lester say that Lester always wanted to buy so many things but that she wanted him to be economical, so they could get out of debt, when I visited them I noticed that Lester always helped her work about the house, and lifted the heavy things. I heard Lester and wife quarrel once, three years ago about insurance. He had insured his property and his wife did not like it and scolded him a good deal, but I don’t remember of his saying much. Lester did not feel very badly over her death, the days I was there; he didn’t cry all the time; he took it cool; my husband William Hunt has talked with me about this; He said “God dam you if you are going to swear for Lester, you can go live with him, I won’t live with you.” He curses me often. What he said to me has not influenced me from telling anything but the truth.

My name is W. A. Quigley; I am coroner of Sioux county; have been a physician for nine years; I was called to Lester’s residence on February 15 or 16 to view the body of Mary Lester; I also held a post-mortem examination on the body on Feb. 24, assisted by Dr. Wormser; on the post-mortem examination I found the back of the neck dislocated; death would follow instantaneously after such a dislocation; all other parts of her body were in a normal condition; I noticed three distinct streaks of red on the right side of the neck at the post-mortem examination; these marks were parallel and an inch apart; probably caused by the pressure or bruise; I saw no other bruises or marks on the body; I think those bruises were caused before death and by force; the marks on Mrs. Lester’s neck, to me, looked like finger marks.

Cross-Examination:  I first saw the body on Feb. 15; I examined the body by moving the head and arm; I then thought an inquest would reveal the cause of death; I could not tell, then, what caused her death; I next saw the body on Feb. 24; I held a post-mortem examination two and one-half miles north-west of Hull; I was not present when the body was exhumed; It was brought to the house and Dr. Wormser and myself examined the body carefully; we dissected the body; the scalp was not injured, but in a proper and healthy condition. We inspected the body all over for bruises and marks, the streaks on the neck were about four inches in length, and the upper one was shorter, and about an inch apart. I did not see the lines or marks on the neck of Mrs. Lester, when I examined the body first, on the 15th of February, if there had been marks on the 14th, it is probable they would have been visible on the 15th and 16th. I was looking for marks on the body, and I did not see any that day. It is possible that the neck of Mrs. Mary Lester might have been dislocated after death; by examining a body externally two or three days after death, I can’t say whether death ensued from apoplexy or not; but a post mortem examination would reveal, in my opinion, whether death came from apoplexy or not. Mrs. Lester did not die of apoplexy; If a dislocation of the neck occurred, after death there would not be any congestion or enlargement of the arteries of the brain.

I couldn’t tell eight days after death, whether a person died of paralysis or not; I could not tell whether Mrs. Lester had a stroke of paralysis or not; I cannot swear that those marks did come from internal causes; If a person would fall to the floor, striking the neck against a chair or obstacle it might cause dislocation of the neck; the examination of the stomach disclosed that the deceased had eaten but a very small meal; After such a dislocation as happened Mrs. Lester, Life could not exist a moment..

My name is Catherine Hunt; I am the mother of Mrs. Wm. Lester; In Carroll county, I heard him curse her, he called her a dam white woman or a dam nigger; After the twins were born, in Sioux county, she was sick and she came over and stayed at my house. Lester brought her over in a wagon; he carried her out of the house and threw her into the wagon-box, on a bed he had made of straw and quilts; On Saturday before Mary died we were talking and she said she would not have Mr. Sturdevant working for the, that she wouldn’t cook for him; She said he could have his choice between Mr. Sturdevant and her, and Lester said, “By J---- C----- I’ll take Sturdevant.”  Monday I sent Lavina up for some lye and when she came back she said Mary was well; and that he hair was nicely done up and just when she put the mule in the stable, she told me Lester was coming and when he came up to the door, I asked him if Mary was dead. He said, “get in the sled, I’m afraid Mary is dead.”  He got up and said, “Mam I’m afraid I have killed Mary, she had one of her dam sprees.”  I followed Mr. Lester in the house and he was leaning over her; holding her head in his hands; he said “mam, save her if you can or bring her to life.” I then sent him for my children and Dr. Coad; I never saw Lester go near the body; On Tuesday morning before sun-rise I saw two marks on her neck; her mouth was disfigured; her mouth was disfigured; her head was loose and fell or rolled backward or side-ways, her neck resembled a chicken’s neck that had been wrung. On the 7th of March I accused him of murdering Mary, he said he did not, and he was not afraid to meet God.

NOTE.—We give all the testimony introduced up to the hour of going to press. The cross-examination of Mrs. Mortimer Hunt and Dr. Quigley is occupying the attention of the court to-day.

Alton Democrat
Saturday, April 28, 1888

Of the Murder of His Wife as Charged.
This Decision is Reached Without a Single Witness for the Defense Being Examined.

Cross-Examination:  Lester said to me in the sled, when going to the house, the day that Mary died, “Mary got another spree, and mam, I’m afraid I killed her.” There were no streaks on her neck Monday, but her neck was long; the streaks were there Tuesday. I wanted an inquest held because I have always heard that when a person was found dead, an inquest had to be held. I never told anybody about what Lester told me, but I tell it now..

I read Mr. Sturdevant’s testimony given before the coroner’s jury. I won’t say that I read my own testimony; If I did it is no one’s business; I can not say what time Mary died for our clock had stopped running. When Lester came for me I asked him if Mary was dead before he said a word; I asked him that because he said in our house on the previous Saturday that he was going to wind the thing up and stop her dam tongue. When I saw Mrs. Lester, her head would not lay straight; I didn’t say then her neck was broke, I took up her head right away and it rolled over, I then propped her head up with a pillow and it fell forward. I will swear that the marks on Mrs. Lester’s neck were finger marks, I know Lester murdered her, because he said when he came after me that he murdered her, I did not tell this to the coroner’s jury, because I wasn’t asked, I never ran Mr. Lester down. I didn’t ask Lester what he meant by saying “I’m afraid I have killed Mary,” nor did I ask him if he had touched her; I did tell the coroner’s jury or anybody that Lester told me that, I tell it now though, I didn’t say any thing to Lester. There were times when I knew Mary could hardly walk or even stand. She very seldom walked out of the house, she has been weak ever since the twins were born. I swear there were finger prints on Mary’s throat; I believe I know she was murdered; as soon as I took hold of Mary’s head, and it rolled from side to side, and her neck looked stretched out, I was suspicious of Lester; Her hair was not done up as Lavine said but looked as though somebody had pulled it then I got suspicious Lester; I undressed Mary the morning she was murdered to look for marks, but I didn’t find any.

When Lester went after my other children I was alone with the body I tried to pour brandy down her throat but couldn’t, I examined her body for marks. I was alone with her all the time. It was on the 7th of March that I had the conversation with Lester about Mary’s death. He came to the door and I asked him, after I had read             THE ALTON DEMOCRAT, what he thought of the neck of Mary.  He said “I think her neck was broken.”  When I got at Lester’s house I only removed the pillow from under her head-that was all.

I am seven years old; I remember when mama died; Father brought in snow that morning, I went out of the house before he did; I don’t know how long papa was in there. I was in the corn-crib shelling corn that morning; father was cleaning out the stable that morning; the twins and I climbed in the corn crib, when I went out of the house that morning, papa was in the house, and mama was changing clothes; I didn’t go back into the house until mama was dead; mama was lying on the floor; I then went and told papa; I told papa when he took snow in the house, that Aunt Vina had borrowed some lye.

Cross-Examination:  I always helped mama and papa; I sometimes drove the horses; papa was always good to me, and I liked him; I remember when mama died; papa took snow in the house, before Vina came, then I went in the house to see if the water was hot; I then went out doors and Vina came on the mule for some lye, and mama had combed her hair that morning, when she first got up; the twins were in the corn crib when Vina was there; mama did not come out of doors when Vina went away with the lye, mama just handed her the lye from door; mama did not talk with Vina; I went out and the twins went in the house; I then went out to the barn to papa and told him that Vina had been there, and then the twins came out of the house and told me mama was on the floor, I told papa and he told me to run in and see what was the matter; I then run out and told papa, who was hauling manure, that mama was on the floor, and papa told me to come quick and hold the team, and papa run out and threw the manure out __ed and went after Grandma. I then went into the house and mama was lying on the bed; papa was by the barn hauling manure; I always helped mama wash; the chairs were by the head of bed so they wouldn’t be in the way when we washed; mama used syranged, it was lying on the floor under and close by; the bed was wet; Before Vina came papa took in some snow and he did not go in the house again till I called him in; I went with papa to Hull on Friday before mama died; he got some money for corn, and then he got home he gave the pocket-book to mama; the window had a curtain, and to raise or lower the curtain we had to stand on the bed on a chair; when Vina was there the curtain was half down; when I came in the room and mama was lying on the floor, the room was light; the window curtain had been rolled up; I am sure of it; papa was good to me and the twins; papa thought a good deal of mama too; mama was sick a good deal; mama didn’t go out doors much; she complained that her ankles hurt her.

Cross-Examination:  Mr Hunt paid to hold the inquest. I cannot say whether Mrs. Lester ankles were weak or not; the neck of Mrs. Lester was broken by a forward dislocation, I was in no hurry to hold the inquest; I do not swear that Mrs. Lester came to her death by the laying on of violent hands.

Re-called:  I was at Lester’s the morning she died, Mrs. Hunt called my attention to Mrs. Lester’s feet, which were weak and limber, and loose, they were so loose on her ankles so that  mother swung them from side to side, and Mrs. Hunt told me Mrs. Lester had to wear shoes with low heels since the twins were born. The curtain ‘round the bed was raised up. A person to raise it had to get a chair on the bed to raise that curtain. Mrs. Hunt told me when, she got there that morning Mary’s head was hanging off the bed, and her face was spotted.  Lester told me when he first saw her, froth was coming out of her mouth, and she was moaning a little:  Mrs. Hunt told me she had rubbed and washed Mary’s feet, and my mother took Mary’s feet in her hand and they swung to and fro.

Cross-examination:  I first examined the body of Mary Lester on the day of her death. I could not determine then what caused her death. I did not detect any marks of violence either. Lester was a stranger to me; I did not notice that he showed any emotion; I noticed some streaks on the neck of Mrs. Lester on the 24th, when we held the post-mortem examination. Those marks might have been caused by internal causes, sometimes marks like these are caused after death by clothing, wrinkles in a dress, etc.  I would not swear that those marks were caused by human hands; it is possible that a woman in a pregnant condition might fall striking her neck against a chair or sack of corn, break her neck and yet leave no visible marks on the neck, I cannot swear that Mrs. Lester died of criminal means.  Mortimer Hunt employed me to hold the post-mortem examination; I was ready to hold it immediately upon being notified. The neck of the dead person could be broken in violence.

State rests.

Mr. Palmer here made a motion that the defendant, A. W. Lester, be discharged from the custody since no evidence has been introduced by the state and it has failed to show that the defendant is guilty of the crime.

Mr. Argo moved that the motion be struck from the record, and objected to the court considering the motion at all, until the defense had introduced its witnesses and its testimony.

Mr. Palmer said the evidence that has been introduced by the state, has wholly failed to show that Mr. Lester has committed any crime, and that he objected to going into the further consideration of this case and piling up costs upon the county, in a futile attempt to convict an innocent man. The state has introduced its strongest evidence, the doctors and surgeons, and all the others, and yet failed to show that the defendant has committed any crime.

Mr. Argo said that if the merits of this motion be discussed now, that the defense has not allowed  to sum up the evidence and hold a second discussion of this case upon its merits.

The court ruled that no argument by counsel be held and that he would rule on the motion Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock.

At ten o’clock Tuesday morning, Justice A. Van der Meide stated that he had carefully weighed the evidence introduced by the state, and that in as much as the state had failed to prove that Lester had anything to do with the death of his wife, he would sustain the motion made by Mr. Palmer for the defense, and discharge A. W. Lester. The decision of the justice meets with almost universal approval.

Alton Democrat, May 12, 1888           


The Grand Jury adjourned Friday morning. It is unknown what they did. It is reported, however, that Lester is indicted, but it is hard to tell. The people of the county almost universally hope the Grand Jury has allowed the matter to drop forever.

Alton Democrat, May 26, 1888

The end of the Lester case has been reached and it has turned out as nine-tenths of our citizens believed it would Lester is evidently innocent of any crime.



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