Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 3

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
Back at it again this week with the third installment in the multi-page transcription of the Villers Trial/Verdict saga. For you another week has passed. For me, not so much. I'm procrastinating doing the discussion post for my Lighting class that I mentioned in my very first post. Instead I'm transcribing some more. Why? Because the post topic is BORING!!!!!! I know I'll have to do it anyway, but I've got a day to try to cope with a topic that makes me want to stick a pencil in my eye.

Well with that charming thought let's tackle this next bit...

"Judge Fisk's Charge

In his charge Judge Fisk said in part:

Gentlemen of the Jury - Before charging you upon the law of this case, I desire first to compliment each of you upon the very close and careful attention you have given to the evidence throughout the trial and to congratulate you upon the fact that this unfortunate controversy is drawing to a close. The duties of the advocates have been discharged in a faithful and able manner both for the state and for the defense, and all that now remains is for me to call your attention to the rules of law that will govern you in arriving at a verdict in this case. After which the responsibility of doing justice between the State of North Dakota and the prisoner at the bar will be with you. That you will discharge this grave responsibility in as able, careful and fearless manner I have no doubt.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1
Under the code of this state every person who destroys the life of a human being either with a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed, or of any other human being, or by any act iminently (sic) dangerous to others evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, or without any design to effect the death by a person engaged in the commission of any felony, is guilty of murder. According to the facts and circumstances attending the killing, murder is deemed either murder in the first, or in the second degree. Here by defined murder perpetrated by means of poison or by lying in wait or by torture or by other willful, deliberate or premeditated killing or in committing or attempting to commit any sodomy, mayhem, arson, robbery, or burglary to be murder in the first degree. All other kinds of murder is murder in the second degree.
The Jamestown Weekly Alert, 20JAN1898, pg1

I charge yon at the outset that under the evidence in this case the defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree or he is innocent of any crime.

A design to effect death is inferred from the fact of the killing unless the circumstances raise a reasonable doubt whether such design existed.

A design to effect death sufficient to constitute murder may be formed instantly before committing the act after which it is carried into execution.

No person can be convicted of murder unless the death of the person alleged to have been killed and the fact of the killing by the accused as alleged are each established as indedependent (sic) fasts; the former by direct proof and the latter beyond a reasonable doubt. Every person convicted of murder in the first degree shall suffer death or be imprisoned in the penitentiary for life. The foregoing sets forth substantially the provision of our code bearing upon the question of murder and you must be governed thereby in arriving at your verdict in this case.

The prisoner at the bar, Martin J. Villers, is charged in this information with the willful murder of one August Tromer committed on or about the 14th day of September, 1894, in this county and state.

This charge divides itself into tow principal (sic) questions: Whether August Tromer, alleged to have been murdered, came to his death by act of violence inflicted by any person and if so, whether the act was committed by this defendant. We are to ascertain whether August Tromer is actually dead and whether he died within on year and one day from the date of the alleged assault upon him; and if so whether the evidence is such as to exclude beyond a reasonable doubt the supposition that such death was occasioned by accident or suicide and show it must have been the result of an act of violence."

Well I suppose that answers one question I had regarding my last post. It is supposed to be guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is more than clear. What isn't so clear is the whole unanimous verdict thing. Nothing is mentioned and from the last article we can see that there was one holdout in both the verdict and sentencing deliberations. Perhaps this will come to light in further transcriptions. Next week we tackle the evidence (or perhaps in the next few minutes for me if I don't start that discussion post for school)!

Note - I've changed the posts from Amanuensis Mondays to Thriller Thursdays because the entire trial was rather sensational at the time and because over the next several Amanuensis Mondays I'd like to start sharing and transcribing the names from the Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado Springs. There are quite a lot of panels at the memorial and there is still quite a lot of information on the Villers' trial to share so I'm making this slight change.