Creffield and the Holy Rollers made page one headlines from 1903 to 1907. When I was researching Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon’s Love Cult I spent months transcribing hundreds of articles. I’m not sure why I was so obsessive. Maybe it was my way of immersing my self into a cult without joining one. Anyway, I’m posting them all for those who are really interested in the story, or are interested the history of journalism, or are interested in how a scandalous story played out in the "media" in a by gone era. Since I no doubt made typos and unconsciously corrected papers' typos, these web pages should not be cited in anything serious (e.g. your dissertation). For such projects they should only be used as starting points and you should refer to the original sources. If you want a shorter version of the story, buy my book. Enjoy.

July 7, 1906: Insanity Expert on the Witness Stand


Judge FraterSeattle Star 7/7/1906 p1

Insanity Expert on the Witness Stand

Dr. Donald A. Nicholson Testifies As to the Sanity of George Mitchell--Disputed Between Attorneys Delays the Closing of the Case of the Defense.


Dr. Donald A. Nicholson, an expert in nervous diseases and for five years senior physician of the Minnesota state insane asylum at St. Peters, Minn., where he was in direct charge of 500 insane patients, broke the monotony of the proceedings in the Mitchell trial this morning.


Expert testimony is not usually of a very interesting nature, but Dr. Nicholson made his testimony so by the very intelligent manner in which he answered the questions of Mr. Shipley, for the defense, and in which he explained to the jury the various causes of insanity, and defined illusions, delusions and insane delusions.




Dr. Nicholson’s testimony in the direct examination by Mr. Shipley would indicate that the doctor believes Mitchell was insane at the time of the killing of Creffield. In answer to hypothetical questions, in which an imaginary individual was described as being surrounded by all of the conditions governing in the Mitchell case, the doctor said that all indications would point to insanity of the individual in question. The doctor was still on the stand at the noon adjournment and it was some time after the house of reconvening this afternoon that he was taken by Mr. Miller for cross-examination.


This morning’s session began with the appearance upon the witness stand of Perry Mitchell, brother of the defendant, whose direct testimony was given yesterday afternoon. This morning he appeared for cross-examination, but was dismissed by Mr. Miller without having to submit to a single question.




John Manning, district attorney of Multnomah County and the man who prosecuted Creffield and sent him to the penitentiary for two years, followed Perry Mitchell upon the stand. But Mr. Manning was not allowed to answer more than preliminary questions. Questions tending to show the mental condition of the sisters of the defendant were objected to by Mr. Miller. The objection was sustained, after the jury had been excused and argument for the purposes of record had been made by counsel for the state and the defense, and Mr. Manning was allowed to depart.


M. P. Burnett, sheriff of Benton county, Oregon, was then called and after the usual preliminaries was asked a question similar to that asked of Attorney Manning, to which the state had objected. Mr. Morris’ persistence in this particular line of questioning which had been ruled upon adversely several times since the trial began mover the court to radical action and after the retiring of the jury to the jury room a recess was announced and the attorneys for the state and the defense were called into the judge’s chambers.




There the matter of the order of the introduction of the testimony was gone into in an informal way, and it was finally agreed that before any testimony could be introduced tending to show hereditary insanity, testimony must be first introduced through the examination of experts to prove that the defendant is tainted with insanity growing out of the condition of his parents or his grandparents.


When the court reconvened, Dr. Nicholson was called and testified as reported above.


At the opening of the court this morning it was believed that the defense would be able to conclude the introduction of all of its testimony before adjournment this evening. The time lost, however, in disputes of counsel and the reading and rereading of the long hypothetical questions asked by Mr. Shipley of Dr. Nicholson, seemed to preclude the hope of any early finish and at 2 o’clock this afternoon it looked as though the defense would not have concluded before Monday afternoon.




That the trial will come to a quick conclusion after the defense has finished the introduction of its testimony seems assured. There is no room for rebuttal testimony of any sort. The truth or falsity of the stories told to George Mitchell that prompted him to commit the deed for which he is being tried do not enter into the trial, and no rebuttal can be put in this connection. It is probable that the state will call two or three medical experts, and that this alone will constitute the rebuttal case.


How much time Mr. Morris will consume in his address to the jury is not known, but it is probable that he will not talk more than two or three hours. Mr. Miller, it is believed, will confine his address to a comparatively few words. The closing argument for the defense will also be brief. It is probable therefore, that the case will go to the jury by Wednesday evening or Thursday morning at the latest.


The general consensus of opinion seems to be that the jury will be out but a short time. The long confinement during the warm weather and the tiresome nature of the closing days of the trial will probably lead to a desire on the part of the jurors to finish their labors just as soon as possible, and it is not likely that any very long arguments will be indulged in the jury room.



Evening Telegram (Portland) 7/7/1906 p1

Mitchell and Manning Shake

Portland Man Cheers Defendant to Delight of Crowd.

Big Victory Is Won

Ruling of Judge Frater Will allow Defense to Recall Several Witnesses.

Manning’s Appearance on Stand Causes Liveliest Legal Skirmish.


[Special to The Telegram.]


SEATTLE, Wash., July 7.-- An unusual spectacle was presented in the Superior Court here shortly before noon today, when District Attorney John Manning, or Portland, stepped up to George Mitchell, slayer of Creffield, the Holy Roller prophet, and shook him warmly by the hand.


This demonstration on the part of an Oregon prosecutor towards a prisoner, whom the Washington authorities are doing their utmost to hang for murder, was the subject of much friendly comment among the spectators, all of whom appear to be Mitchell sympathizers. Mr. Manning chatted pleasantly with the prisoner for a few moments, advising him to be of good cheer, and not lose hope, as there seemed little doubt of his ultimate acquittal.


The appearance of District Attorney Manning of Portland, on the witness stand in the Mitchell-Creffield murder case here this morning precipitated one of the liveliest legal skirmished that has marked the entire trial. No sooner did Mr. Manning take the stand than the state objected on the grounds that the line of testimony offered by him had no direct bearing on the case and consequently was irrelevant and immaterial.




Judge Frater immediately and without awaiting a reply from the defendant’s attorney sustained the objection.


To this the defense took exception, asking that the jury be excluded from the room while the records were made up to show the objection of the defense to a violation of the defendant’s rights in the trial. A similar result followed in an effort to place Sheriff Burnett, of Benton County Oregon, on the witness stand. Judge Frater then ordered a recess of court and adjourned to his chamber with Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Miller, who is handling the state’s case.


After a conference of all attorneys in the case it was decided to admit Mr. Manning’s testimony if he was place on the stand in regular order, following the medical experts, who might define insanity in its various forms to the jury. The same rule will apply to Sheriff Burnett.


The testimony of Mr. Manning will be limited to his knowledge of Creffield’s influence over Mrs. B. E. Starr, the defendant’s married sister. At the time of Creffield’s conviction of a statutory charge at Portland three years ago, Mr. Manning investigated the case thoroughly. His statements are meant to show Mrs. Starr’s lack of mentality as corroborative of a similar condition in the brother.


In order to build the requisite foundation for such testimony Dr. Donald Nicholson, a Seattle medical expert, was placed on the stand immediately before the close of the noon session.


Nearly every question put to him was objected to by the state, and little progress was made. In answer to questions put by Attorney Shipley, Dr. Nicholson gave as his opinion that the causes which led up to the killing and the actions of the defendant both prior and subsequent to that occurrence were conclusive evidence of insanity. It will probably take all day to complete the examination of Dr. Nicholson. The ruling of the court has opened the way for the defense to recall a number of witnesses who will give evidence tending to show that the defendant is suffering from hereditary insanity.


By securing this ruling from Superior Judge Frater permitting testimony of an insanity expert as to the mental condition of George Mitchell, the attorneys for the defense won their most signal victory during the case. From the first day of the trial the defense has been trying to get this testimony before the jury, but without success, and a number of witnesses who were placed on the stand left it again without having accomplished the purpose for which they were called.



Seattle Daily Times 7/7/1906

Signal Victory for Mitchell Defense

For First Time Attorneys for Slayer of Creffield Succeed in Getting Expert Insanity Testimony Before Jury.

After Consultation Held in Chambers Judge Frater Permits Specialist to Pass Opinion on Mental Condition.

Point Has Been Main Bone of Contention Throughout Trial and Has Been Bitterly Fought by Prosecution.


by E. O. Kelsey


By securing a ruling from Superior Judge Frater holding that testimony relative to the mental condition of George Mitchell’s father and other members of the family and also the opinion of an insanity expert as to whether or not these family conditions and other conditions which existed prior to the killing of Joshua Creffield would be conducive to insanity on the part of the defendant, Attorneys Morris and Shipley this morning gained their most signal legal victory during the progress of the trial which is to determined the fate of the Oregon farmer boy who took the law into his own hands. From the first day since the taking of testimony in the case began the attorneys for the defense have been endeavoring to get such evidence before the jury, but the court has always ruled against them and a dozen witnesses have taken the stand and left it again without giving the opinions for which they were called.


This decision of Judge Frater came as the result of a consultation held with the attorneys for the state and for the defense in chambers during a recess this forenoon. Sheriff M. F. Burnett of Benton County was on the stand and had told of his official acquaintance with Donna Starr, the married sister of the defendant. He was asked when, as a preliminary question relative to the woman’s mental condition, and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller interposed an objection for the same reasons that he has been objecting during the entire progress of the trial. It was at this juncture that Judge Frater ordered a recess and called the attorneys into his chambers.




When the consultation, which was of about twenty minutes duration, was concluded and the jury was recalled, Sheriff Burnett was called from the stand and Dr. Donald A. Nicholson, a Seattle physician, took his place. Dr. Nicholson testified that before coming to Seattle some eighteen months ago he had been for five years in charge of the Minnesota State Asylum for the Insane at St. Peter and that during that time he had had supervision over from 500 to 600 insane patients and had made a daily examination of at least two special cases.


After giving a number of definitions of technical terms Dr. Nicholson answered in response to a hypothetical question put by Attorney Shipley and embodying important facts in the instance at hand that such a subject would undoubtedly be considered insane. The witness explained to the jury how it was that the mental condition of the antecedents, or even of the brothers or sisters of a subject always had a bearing in determining the mental condition of that subject.


Further questioning elicited the testimony that the acts of George Mitchell as described to the jury by the various witnesses would indicate an insane delusion on the part of the subject. Again the witness stated that the knowledge possessed by the subject of the danger in which his sister was believed to be and the past events in the connection of these sisters with the Holy Rollers would have a tendency to cause insanity.




This ruling on the part of the court will reopen the case so far as the testimony of a number of witnesses who have been called previously is concerned and much testimony concerning the Mitchell family, which so far has been kept out, will be introduced. Prior to this ruling it was expected that the defense would finish its case today, so far as taking testimony was concerned, but now there is little hope of getting through with the witnesses before Tuesday.


District Attorney John Manning, of Multnomah County, Ore., was on the stand this morning, but after he had told of having met Donna Starr in his official capacity further testimony was objected to by the prosecution, and Mr. Manning leaving the stand. He will probably be called again either this afternoon or Monday morning.




Perry Mitchell, a younger brother of the defendant, was on the stand for the greater part of yesterday afternoon. He told at length the experience which he an George had in rescuing Esther from the influence of Creffield and of the way in which she acted toward her family when she was taken back to the home in Illinois.


Perry Mitchell, like his brother, is a far from being worldly wise, and more than once while on the stand had hard work to keep from giving way to the emotions caused by the recital of the wrongs done his sisters by the man who had them under his influence. He told how Esther even after being removed from direct communication with Creffield had refused to have anything to do with the members of her own family, believing them to be defiled and accursed of God--her God, the Holy Roller leader.


Lewis Sandell, of East Seattle, and brother of Mrs. Frank Hurt and Miss Olive Sandell, both followers of Creffield, was also on the stand yesterday afternoon. He told how Mitchell had come to his home a few days before the shooting and said the boy had acted so strangely as to cause the witness to have doubts about his sanity. Mitchell had told him of the Holy Roller doings and also that Mitchell was selected by God to remove Creffield.


James E. Berry, of Albany, Ore., was another witness who has had experience with Creffield. Berry was formerly a merchant in Corvallis and built a hall which the Holy Rollers used as a meeting place early in the history of the organization. Berry had attended a few meetings himself, but when Creffield ordered him to give the hall to the society, and to sell all his personal belongings, including an automobile and give the proceeded, Berry revolted and severed his connection with Holy Rollerism.


(Bellow this is an article: “Autoist is Arrested” E. Dolon, driver of an automobile and employed by a laundry, was arrested yesterday by Patrolman Ribbach on the charge of fast driving.)





Morning Oregonian (Portland) 7/7/1906 p1

Perry Mitchell Tells His Story

Describes Efforts To Save Sister’s Honor.

Knew Brother’s Plan To Kill

Women Crowd Courtroom And Bring Prisoner Flowers.

Trial Nearing An End

Most Of Important Testimony In Creffield Murder Case Now Given. After Today Evidence Will Be Merely Cumulative.


Corvallis Times 7/10/1906 p1

Mitchell’s Trial

Brother Of George Mitchell Tells How They Tried To Save Esther.

Perry Mitchell’s Testimony--Esther Sent To Illinois To Escape The Fiend’s Influence--Also Louis Sandell’s Testimony.


Corvallis Gazette 7/10/1906 p1

What Berry Told

In Mitchell Trial--Brother of Murderer Also on Stand.


SEATTLE, Wash., July 6.--(Special.)--The scheme of Edmund Creffield to bring Esther Mitchell back under his control and keeping, after she had been forcibly taken away from him by her relatives and the civil authorities, were described from the witness-stand this afternoon, in the Creffield-Mitchell murder trial. Details of these efforts were given by Perry Mitchell, the 18-year-old brother of the defendant, who aided Creffield’s slayer in keeping their sister out of the Holy Roller prophet’s clutches.


The story was also told of Creffield’s efforts to raise money for the building of a Holy Roller tabernacle at Corvallis. James. K. Berry, a Corvallis man and a backslide from the Creffield flock, testified that he was commanded by Creffield to convert all his worldly goods, including his automobile, into cash and turn the money over without delay to the head of the “church.” This was when Berry balked, regardless of Creffield’s loud threats that God would “smite” him.




Today’s proceedings were occupied almost entirely by Oregon witnesses. District Attorneys Manning and Bryson did not testify, as was expected, but will be called tomorrow. Substantially all the testimony was corroborative of things already told on the witness-stand, excepting that of Perry Mitchell and Mr. Berry. The day was a tedious one, legal struggles being frequent, and the testimony being cumulative.


That Mitchell has some very strong sympathizers in Seattle was forcibly demonstrated at noon today when Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Miller was approached as he left the courtroom by an elderly woman, who gave him a severe tongue-lashing because of his aggressive methods in handling the state’s case. In the presence of a group of his friends, the woman told him that he should be ashamed of himself for attempting to send the Mitchell boy to the gallows. She also expressed the belief that the motives impelling him to such a vigorous handling of this case were not altogether creditable. The woman’s identity could not be learned. She was recognized as one who has been present at every session of court. She did not appear, however, at the afternoon session, possibly fearing retaliation on the part of the official she had assailed.




The interest of women in the case is becoming marked. This afternoon there were more women than men in the courtroom, and all listened eagerly to the revolting testimony adduced. Most of these spectators are elderly or middle-aged women, although there was a sprinkling of younger ones on hand today.


While the testimony seems to be the principal attraction, Mitchell is also a drawing card, and there is a continual craning of necks for a better view of him. This morning a woman of perhaps 35 years stepped up to the prisoner and handed him a huge bunch of sweet peas and roses. These floral tributes are said to reach his cell daily from different women, who are careful to conceal their identity.


Interest today centered in Perry Mitchell’s testimony. He resembles the prisoner closely, except that he is tanned and ruddy, while George is pale and wan through worry and confinement. It is apparent that George is more sensitive and sympathetic of the two, for Perry shoed not the slightest emotion when he described Creffield’s occult hold on his two sisters--Esther and Mrs. Starr.




Perry said he learned of Creffield’s power over Esther three years ago. At that time he and George had her sent to the home of the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society to be treated for what they believed to be mental weakness. Later, fearing Creffield might abduct her, they sent her to her father’s home in Illinois. Perry went along to see that she reached her destination.


“Before she went,” said the witness, “George and I called on her at the Aid Society’s place. She refused to recognize us as her brothers, saying we were such in name only. George broke down and cried when she told him this. After I got her to Illinois, her sister, Mrs. Starr, kept writing to her, at Creffield’s command, telling her to keep up her faith and hurry back to Creffield.


“Mrs. Starr assured her over and over in these letters that the flock would soon again be reunited. My father intercepted these letters and destroyed them. Esther suspected this. She refused to call her own father by that name, saying her only father was God and that she had no father on earth.


“After a few months, though, she got more sensible, and we thought she was cured. We let her go back to Oregon after Creffield had been put in jail. But as soon as he got out she got back into his power again. George was very angry that we had let her come away from home, and said he would never speak to either father or me if Creffield succeeded in getting control of Esther.




Witnesses then testified that his brother Fred had committed suicide (sic) in Portland three years ago as the culmination of an unfortunate love affair. This testimony introduced for the purpose of showing the family taint of insanity, was ruled out by Judge Frater.


In conclusion Perry told of the day his brother started out to kill Creffield.


“It was in April last,” he said, “and George had just been released from the Good Samaritan Hospital at Portland, after getting over an attack of measles. He was very weak, and had little money, but said he was going to find Creffield, even if he had to walk from place to place in order to get him. He also told me he had been talking with the spirits and that God had commanded him to deliver up the spirit of Creffield.”


On cross-examination Perry admitted that he made no effort to talk his brother out of the idea of killing the Holy Roller.


Mr. Berry, the principal witness of the forenoon session, admitted having given some heed to Creffield’s teachings at one time at Corvallis.




“He told me,’ the witness testified, “that he needed money to build a tabernacle. He told me that I must sell all my valuables, including my automobile, and give the money to him. He said God had told him I must do these things, and that he had also been told by God to tell me to quit work and devote myself to the church. Then Creffield and I had a falling out, as I would not do the things he said.”


Berry, in conclusion, substantiated the things that have been told by a dozen witnesses regarding Creffield’s practices.


Louis Sandell, of Seattle, brother of Miss Olive Sandell, who followed Creffield to the beach earlier this year, told of Creffield’s control over the girl. He also told unprintable things of what he had learned concerning Creffield’s Holy Roller orgies. He saw Mitchell in Seattle the day before the shooting, and Mitchell told him he had been commanded by God to put Creffield off the earth.




“I could see at the time that Mitchell was crazy as a loon,” said Sandell. Similar testimony regarding Mitchell’s mental state was given by John A. Baldwin, box maker and fellow-workman of Burgess Starr at the Portland branch of the Standard Oil Company. Baldwin met Mitchell in April through Starr. At the time Mitchell could talk of nothing but his intention to put an end to Creffield, witness said.


Dr. F. W. Brooks, of Portland, testified regarding Mitchell’s good reputation. He had known him for five years, and attended him when he had the measles. At that time he talked of messages from the spirits directing him to kill Creffield. Dr. Brooks testimony was corroborated by Mrs. Harriet Hager, who nursed Mitchell through his illness. Further corroborative evidence in the same strain was presented by Emery Harris, a former roommate of the accused, and by Peter View, a Portland mill owner and former employer of Mitchell.




Considerable interest centers in the testimony to be presented tomorrow by Prosecuting Attorneys Manning and Bryson. After that, however, there will probably be a falling off in interest until the case goes to the jury, as the balance of the testimony will be principally corroborative and cumulative.


The defense homes to conclude by the middle or latter part of next week.



Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/7/1906 p16

Mitchell’s Defense Soon Will Close

Attorney Shipley Says That Nearly All Evidence Has Been Given

Prove Father Peculiar

Perry Mitchell Allowed To Tell Of Religious Wanderings Of His Parent


Attorney Silas M. Shipley, one of the lawyers defending George Mitchell in the murder trial which has occupied Judge Frater’s court for now almost two weeks, announced last night that the greater part of the evidence, which the defense wished to get before the jury, was in, and that it was quite probable that the defense would rest its case before court adjourns this evening.


Two chief points which the defense had been laboring for some time to introduce in evidence, were allowed yesterday. One was a physician’s testimony as to Mitchell’s mental condition about the time of the murder. The other was that there was an hereditary tendency to insanity in the family, particularly in Mitchell’s father. The first came early in the day, in the evidence of Dr. F. W. Brooks, who attended Mitchell during an attack of the measles in a Portland hospital last April. Dr. Brooks thought the young man was mentally weak at the time.


1906 long distance siren advertisementFORMER HOLLY ROLLER ON STAND


Most interesting of the day was the evidence of the three witnesses examined in the afternoon. One of them, James E. Berry, of Albany, Or., was himself at one time a “Holy Roller.” He gave up his belief, he said, when Crefeld had asked him to sell his automobiles and turn the money over to the sect. Berry also had “told Mitchell” of the doings of Crefeld and his followers, both preceding and following his own connection with the sect.


Lewis Sandell, of East Seattle, was the second witness of the afternoon. Mrs. Frank Hurt and Olive Sandell, his sisters, were followers of Crefeld. Sandell had first met George Mitchell in May when the latter came to Seattle on his mission of death. While he was working on the roof of a house in East Seattle, George Mitchell had come to him saying that he was there to seek his sister Esther, and through her to find Crefeld, whom he had a message from God to kill.




It was from George Mitchell at that time that Sandell first heard definitely of the doings of the “Holy Rollers” in which his sisters had been intimately concerned. Witnesses stated he had thought the young man was “crazy as a loon.”


It was from Perry Mitchell, sometimes called George’s twin brother, although he is two years his junior, that the defense was first able to get in evidence of the peculiarities of the father. He testified that his father had often changed his sect, generally falling out with people when they would not hold the same views as he himself had. Witness told that while Esther was in the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid home, in Portland, George Mitchell had become much emaciated, being unable to sleep, and refusing food. He continually talked of his sister, even to the extent of keeping other people awake at nights.


Perry, who attorneys for the defense stated, had seen his brother Fred immediately after the latter had attempted to kill himself at Portland, was not allowed to testify in that regard. His sisters, Esther and Mrs. Starr, had already done so.


Witness then told of the strange actions of his sister on the train, after she was taken from the home, in February, 1904. He had told his brother George at that time that if he did not quit worrying, he would soon be as “nutty” as the “Holy Rollers.”


It was during Esther’s absence in the East that George became a spiritualist, and he had written that he had had conversations with his mother’s spirit. She had told him, he said, that Esther would have more trouble.




In the last letter Perry had received occurred the passage: “I am God’s agent. I am chosen by God to hunt Crefeld sown and I am going to do it.”


So it was, testified Perry, that his brother started out, weak from his confinement in the hospital without money or other means, but with the determination to work and walk from place to place until he had found Crefeld and had delivered him to God.


Besides Dr. Brooks, in the morning, Mrs. Harriet Hager testified to George Mitchell’s good reputation. Mrs. Anna Hager, herself a spiritualist, ventured the opinion that the spirits with which George had talked were not good spirits, if he had really talked with any. John E. Baldwin had talked with Mitchell in Portland, and had believed him insane. Peter View, a Portland mill owner, had the same experience, while Emory P. Harris told how Mitchell had talked incessantly of his victim, his mother’s spirit, and his divine command to kill Crefeld.


Some of the witnesses for the defense were dismissed yesterday, as it became clear to counsel their testimony would not be allowed.



Daily Oregon Statesman (Salem) 7/8/1906 p6

Fails to Shake Testimony


SEATTLE, July 7.--A careful cross examination by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John F. Miller Failed to shake the testimony of Dr. Nicholson, that a man who acted as Mitchell acted before and after the shooting of Creffield was insane. The attorney for Mitchell announced tonight that he would not place the prisoner on the stand.



Sunday Oregonian (Portland) 7/8/1906 p4

Manning Says Jury Will Acquit

Portland Prosecutor Is Kept From Stand.

His Testimony Shut Out

State’s Objections To Much Similar Evidence Sustained.

Is Not Needed, However.

Mitchell’s Case Already Strong Enough--Seattle Lawyers Expect Speedy Verdict Of Not Guilty.


SEATTLE, Wash., July 7.--(Special.)--Seattle attorneys who have been attending the Mitchell-Creffield murder trial in the Superior Court here are unanimous in the belief that legal grounds have been indisputably established for the acquittal of the young defendant. Besides this technical phase of the case, there has been a vast bulk of evidence of the order calculated to influence a normal jury. It is quite generally believed that a verdict of “not guilty” will be returned and this before the jury has been out many hours.


Among those who are confident of this result are Attorneys Morris and Shipley, counsel for the defense, and District Attorney Manning of Portland.


“I do not wish to appear as too sanguine,” said Mr. Morris this afternoon, “but you can say for me that the case will be in the hands of the jury by next Thursday morning, at the very latest, and by Thursday night Mitchell will be a free man. The worst that can happen is a hung jury, and this can only be brought about by a radical stand on the part of some one or two jurors, and this we do not look for, by any means.”




“I cannot see how the jury under the testimony adduced, can do otherwise than acquit Mitchell,” said Mr. Manning. “A decision to acquit the defendant ought to be reached on the first ballot when the jury retires to consider the case.”


To all outward intents little progress was made in the trial today and yet ground was covered that ordinarily would have required two or three days. For after working all morning to get testimony relating to the mental condition of Mitchell’s married sister, the defense was restricted by a ruling from Judge Frater. This shut off about 15 witnesses, headed by District Attorney Manning.


In order to complete the records, in event of a possible appeal from the verdict in the case, the defense took the testimony of District Attorney Bryson, as representative of what all other witnesses would have related had they been permitted to appear. This testimony was not rendered in the presence of the jury, and will be of value only in even of an appeal.




Between haggling over the question of admitting this evidence and examining one insanity expert, the entire day’s session was consumed. The legal fight had been anticipated, and both sides were prepared with arguments and authorities. The appearance of Mr. Manning on the stand at 10 o’clock was the signal for opening hostilities. The courtroom was crowded with spectators anxious to behold the somewhat unusual sight of a public prosecutor appearing in the interests of a man accused of murder.


There was a murmur of satisfaction and approbation among Mitchell’s friends--meaning all the spectators--as Mr. Manning stepped up to the pale, solemn-faced prisoner, shook him heartily by the hand, and told him to keep a stiff upper lip, as he would come out all right in the end.




Mr. Manning took the witness-stand, but got no further than a statement of his name and occupation. When asked by Attorney Morris to tell the jury what he knew of Creffield’s power over Mitchell’s sister, Mrs. Starr, instant objection was interposed by Deputy Prosecutor Miller.


He asserted that such testimony, dealing with a sister of the defendant and having no direct and connected bearing on the case, was irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent.


Judge Frater immediately sustained the objection. Mr. Shipley arose and said he wished to enter a statement of his attitude on the question. After the jury had been excluded from the courtroom, Mr. Shipley set forth that a showing of the mentality of the sister would be admissible as corroborative of the defendant’s mentality. It was also set out by Messrs. Morris and Shipley that testimony concerning family traits, eccentricities and peculiarities was competent as showing the defendant was possessed of the same traits, through heredity.




Following this a recess of court was taken. Judge Frater repaired to his chambers in company with Mr. Miller. During the interval of 20 minutes than ensued, the case was discussed by the attorneys on both sides. The defense agreed to lay a basis for testimony concerning evidences of hereditary insanity in the defendant before attempting to enter further testimony along this line.


The examination of medical experts was then taken up and Mr. Manning was excused. It was intended to place him on the stand in the afternoon, but the defense gave up this plan later. Mr. Manning was relieved from further attendance at the trial.


The things that were to have been proved by him were stated in the absence of the jury to make up the records. A similar showing was made of Mr. Bryson’s testimony, and of that to have been proffered by Sheriff Burnett of Benton County.


The other Oregon witnesses who were to have corroborative evidence in this regard were: W. T. Gardner, Mary J. Graham, O. V. Hurt, Milton Beem, J. J. McMillan, Perry Mitchell, B. E. Starr and Louis Hartley. All were excused.


Dr. Donald A. Nicholson, a Seattle physician, was called by the defense as an insanity expert. No objection was made to Dr. Nicholson’s appearance on the stand, and the defense was allowed considerable latitude in examining him. Witness’ testimony was favorable throughout to young Mitchell. In reply to hypothetical questions, Dr. Nicholson said, unqualifiedly, that anyone acting as Mitchell did prior to and at the time of the tragedy, was insane.




An effort was made by Mr. Miller, on cross-examination, to establish that communication with spirits does not constitute or indicate an abnormal mental state, such as is required to establish insanity. Admitting that spiritualism does not indicate unsoundness of mind, the doctor said such communications as Mitchell received, impelling him to kill Creffield, were indicative of an insane delusion.


Dr. Nicholson defined the different degrees and causes of insanity, and in conclusion gave it as his full belief that Mitchell was not mentally responsible when he did away with the Holy Roller leader.


On Monday, other prominent Seattle physicians will be put on the stand to give similar expert testimony. Drs. W. T. Miles and John Wotherspoon have been scheduled to appear Monday Morning.




The first two days of the week, it is believed will be consumed by experts and by rebuttal testimony. Then the final arguments will be made. Prosecutor Mackintosh will open for the state; Attorney Shipley for the defense. Mr. Morris will make the concluding appeal for Mitchell’s release, and Mr. Miller will close for the state.


The case will then go into the hands of the jury.



Corvallis Times 7/10/1906

Another Tragedy

Chester Thompson Shoots Judge Emory, Uncle Of The Girl He Loves.

Victim Not Expected To Live--Mob Surrounds House At Seattle, Where Assailant Barricades Himself And Defies Arrest


Seattle, Wash., July 7.--Chester Thompson, the 19-year-old-son of Will H. Thompson, lawyer, poet and orator, shot and seriously wounded ex-Superior Judge G. Emory tonight, because he imagined the latter was trying to prevent him from meeting Miss Charlotte Whittlesey, Judge Emory’s niece, and daughter of a former King county treasurer, with whom young Thompson has been infatuated for two years. Judge Emory was seated on his own porch with his wife and Mr. and Mrs. w. C. Keith, when young Thompson, coatless and hatless, rushed and demanded that he be allowed to see Miss Whittlesey. “You cannot; she’s not here,” said Judge Emory, and put out a hand to restrain young Thompson as he attempted to dart into the house. “I know where to find here,” snarled Thompson, as he swung about, revolver in hand. Three times he fired at Judge Emory, and bullets striking the left lung within three inches of the heart, the second striking in the flesh above the hip, and the third missing him entirely.


Young Thompson sprang up the stairs toward the nursery, grabbed Clara Emory, aged 3, and Tom Emory, aged 4, away from their toys and hurried them into a bedroom. A bed was hurriedly turned up against the door, and then, from behind the barricade, young Thompson defied anyone to take him. For an hour and a half, while the police gathered and an angry crowd below shouted for his blood, young Thompson remained barricaded in the room, threatening to shoot any one who interfered with him. In the meantime his father had been summoned, and after a long wait arrived.


Mr. Thompson, a veteran of the Confederacy and a man grown old in the practice of law, leaped from a carriage and ran up the stairs without speaking to any one. He knocked at the bedroom door and called:


Chester, do you know your father? I am here and everything is all right. Come out and give yourself up to the police. I am here to protect you.”


There was no immediate response, and Mr. Thompson called again to his son. The latter replied that he was taking the shells out of his gun, and a moment later stepped out of the room and walked to his father. Mr. Thompson seized his boy’s hand, held it a moment and then turned to Captain of Police Ward, said:

Take him.”


The police formally arrested the boy, Then made a hurried search of the room, finding that after he shot at Judge Emory young Thompson had reloaded his gun and prepared for a fight.


In the mean time the two children with him had snuggled up in a corner and fallen asleep. The police smuggled young Thompson down a back stairway and into an automobile, the hurried him to the police station. He is held there pending the outcome of Judge Emory’s wounds.


An uncle of Judge Emory’s assailant was Maurice Thompson, the famous historical novelist and pot. A brother is an officer in the National Guard and another is a young newspaper man.


Years ago, while the couple were in high school, young Thompson fell in love with Miss Whittlesey, but his violent passion finally led to his exclusion from the Whittlesey home. Recently, Miss Whittlesey returned from a boarding school, and Thompson attempted to renew his suit, but was blocked by parents and relatives.


Young Thompson’s mother is said to have suffered from mental disturbances.

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