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in afterwards. On April 10, Student Glaser went over with Durránt at the college their potes of this day, April 3, Glaser alone reading and Durrant copying from time to time. As to this, Durrant explained that a mutual “quiz," for purposes of improvement, etc., was not uncommon, and that he had copied only two rules in all.
(6) Furthermore, his note-book remained at the house till April 17th (unthought of by the police), when it was sent to his attorney's office (Durrant having been arrested on the 14th); his attorneys told him the notes were not complete, and the book remained in their possession for an indefinite time thereafter. (c) It was claimed that Durrant had expressly admitted that he had few or no notes of that lecture, and had tried to borrow from others to complete them. Student Graham went on April 20th to the prison, and Durrant, asking Graham's companion to step aside,2
"asked me if I would lend him my notes to compare with his own. He told me he had no notes at all, and if he could get them from me he could establish his alibi. He told me I could take them to his house and put them in his book and thus have them brought to him. He also said I might earn them and then tell them to him."
Graham did not accede to this request. Durrant admitted expressing to Graham a wish to have the notes, because “ he didn't know whether he had full notes,” and made this singular explanation : “I was following instructions of one of my lawyers to get notes of Dr. Cheney's lecture and complete my own notes and compare them.” 3
1 On April 10 he already knew for Glaser; (2) on the 20th he at least several days that Miss Lamont had told Student Graham that he did not disappeared on the 3d.
know whether he had full notes. ? It was their joint request, Dur It must be added that, according to rant said.
two or three reporters, Durrant, when 3 Some apparent inconsistencies first arrested, told them that he had here appeared in his story. He
reached the church between 4 and claimed that when he was arrested on 4:30. This he explained as a misthe 14th, he had forgotten whether he understanding of his expression had notes, and first learned from his gone to the church between 4 and attorneys on the 7th that he had. But 4:30,” signifying the time of leaving (1) on the 10th he had already gone
the Medical School. But the newsover the same notes with Student paper reports of what witnesses had
(2) Durrant at the Church. How did Durrant happen to be at the church at all, on the day of Miss Lamont's disappearance? His purpose, according to his own story, was to repair the easterly “sun-burner" hanging through the ceiling above the rostrum. It consisted of 24 gas-jets, one being fitted with an electric vibrator, by means of which all were lit. The wire ran 75 feet to the gallery wall, where a gas valve turned on the gas and a push-button made the connection with a battery. Durrant's story, in brief, was as follows:
He was interested in electricity (but knew nothing of gas), and had several times repaired the sun-burner attachment. He had several times been told of defects by Mr. Davis, the treasurer, by one of the trustees, and by the janitor, Sademan; one of these occasions was in the preceding January. About March 23 preceding, a trustee or Sademan (later he fixed it as Sademan) told him that the lights would not work at the first press of the button, and he said he would look after it. When he came to the church he went to the library, put his watch in his coat, and left coat and hat there on a box; went through the Sunday-school room up to the auditorium; proceeded to the gallery at the front end to turn on the gas; plugged the button, turned the gas half on, raised the ladder, mounted, went along the lower ceiling to the opening, took off the cover and reflectors, remedied with nippers the spring on the vibrator (an operation of 4 minutes or so), tested its working, and returned to the gallery and shut off the gas. While making the repairs he lay on his stomach, his head protruding downwards through the opening over the gas, and the escaping gas nauseated him. This it was that caused the paleness described by the witness King. The rest of his story coincided substantially with that of King.
A vigorous cross-examination of nearly 2 days was met by Durrant with almost entire success so far as this part of his story was involved, - a circumstance of considerable significance in view of the great mass of details involved. But the State attacked the story at several points in the following ways:
(a) The treasurer Davis and each of the 5 trustees testified that they had not spoken about the gas to Durrant at any time in 1895. The janitor Sademali testified that he had had no conversation with Durrant about the sun-burner at or about the time stated, and that the gas apparatus was “in a perfect state of repair,” except for a loose key in the front lobby below, which sometimes caused a slight leak. (b) Experts testified that the effect of inhaling gas
said or would say, proved so unreliable i Workmen had repaired the single throughout the trial that this particu wall-burners in the church on April lar evidence did not play an important 2, and this, as the source of a gaspart.
escape, was made much of by the
would be a flush and redness of the face, not a paleness; but an expert for the defense denied this. (©) King testified that when he entered the library (which must have been about 5, or after Durrant had, by his own story, arrived) he saw no hat and coat there; and, as the door was locked when they went back there before leaving, it would follow (assuming that his not seeing them indicated that they were in fact not there) that Durrant, and he only, had put them there in the meantime, i. e., during King's absence to get the bromo-seltzer; since it was admitted that a new lock (to keep out book-thieves) had been put on the door only a few days before, to which Durrant and himself alone had keys, and since the interval of his absence had afforded Durrant time to put the articles there. The effect of this would be merely to show that Durrant's story about putting them there on his first arrival was false.
Durrant's Exclusive Opportunity.- As further negativing the hostile effect of the State's testimony putting Durrant at the church on that afternoon (whether with or without Miss Lamont), it was of course open to the defense to show the possibility or probability of some other person having equal opportunity to commit the crime or showing equally strong traces of guilt. In this respect much was promised, but little attempted, and practically nothing effected. The State had shown, as to modes of access, that the north door to the church had been nailed up in the previous year; that to the front door keys were possessed by King and the janitor Sademan only; and that to the south door keys were possessed by only King, Durrant, Sademan, Pastor Gibson, and the President of the Ladies'
defense; as also the fact that King, on sarily to the stairs at the east end and entering, smelled gas in the lobby then back through the Sunday-school below. But this could not affect the rooms to the library. That he came question of the state of repair of the down at the east stairs would, on the sun-burner; and so far as it was other hand, be perfectly consistent offered to show the cause of Durrant's with his having just committed the hausea, it was of no consequence, for murder, for as already mentioned, the the only gas that could have over natural way of retreat from the belfry come him was that which he inhaled was along the new ceiling to the east from the sun-burner, while the leak end and thence down to the baptistery in the lobby accounted for what King and down the stairs to the Sundaysmelled.
school rooms. " It may be added that if Durrant It may also be noted that as the had really come down by way of the gas-fitters (for some unexplained reawest gallery, he would naturally bave son) took out the sun-burners on April gone directly down the stairs at the 4, there was no means of testing Durwest end to the library to get his hat rant's story as to his doings over the and coat, instead of going unneces ceiling.
Aid Society, Mrs. Moore; furthermore, that the murderer must have been completely familiar with the church interior. Practically, then, the matter lay between the defendant, King, Sademan, and Gibson. As to the former two, no attempt whatever was made to implicate them, and we must assume that it was not possible to do so. But a distinct effort, indirect rather than direct, was made to fix suspicion on Pastor Gibson. It probably originated in the fair, though not striking, resemblance between the writing on the inclosure of the deceased's rings sent to Mrs. Noble and some specimens of Pastor Gibson's handwriting. The pastor was called to the stand to identify this handwriting, but for no other purpose.
Other bits of evidence noted below, of little or no real significance, were, however, made much of by the defense (though scarcely mentioned in counsel's argument).1
3. Durrant's Subsequent Conduct. — The defense paid special attention to destroying the effect of two incidents of the State's story, – the visit to the pawnbroker Oppenheimer, and the waiting at the ferry on April 12.
The attack on the Oppenheimer story was made in several ways: (1) Durrant and his mother testified that he never wore in the daytime at that season the overcoat which the pawnbroker said he had on. (2) The pawnbroker appeared to be somewhat nearsighted. (3) Others who were sent or had for their own purposes gone to offer him jewelry testified to errors made by him in describing them. (4) A Mr. Lenahan, of the same general appearance as Durrant, had offered him a similar ring about the same time; but this witness' testimony was very weak; moreover Oppenheimer instantly picked out the Lamont ring when the two were shown him together. (5) Durrant's presence at other places on the mornings of the period in question was shown; but only partially. (6) Durrant was shown to have a little money in bank, and the ring was worth only $2.50.
The ferry incident was so explained that perhaps Durrant did not in fact contradict himself as to his reason for being at the ferry. He claimed that he was really looking for Blanche Lamont; and, so far as his share in her death was concerned,
1 (1) Footprints in the belfry of a spot, found in the pastor's study. shoe larger than Durrant's; (2) Marks But the attendant explanations and of a chisel and a hammer on the bel contradictions were such that this fry door, a chisel and a hammer being evidence may be fairly described as found in a box in the pastor's study; worthless. (3) shoes, of which one bore a brown
this was quite consistent with his interest as a friend in her whereabouts. But the prosecution made much of the absurdity of his story that he received the advice to go there from an unknown man, who stopped him on the street and then left him, and that Durrant made no attempt to inquire his name or his source of information or to follow him; and to this extent the incident was used to discredit his whole story.
On Saturday, November 2, at 3:30 p. m., after 27 days actually occupied by the giving of testimony, and 5 or 6 more by the addresses of counsel, the jury retired. Within 30 minutes they returned with a verdict of “ Guilty of murder in the first degree.” A juror afterwards revealed that this result was reached without discussion and upon the first ballot. It is sufficient to note that the verdict appeared to be in harmony with the opinion of the community.
The learned editor of this Review has already 2 paid a just tribute to the uprightness, vigor, and good judgment of the Court, and to the ability and industry of the counsel, the closing address of Mr. Barnes being certainly an exceptional one of its kind. But in reviewing the trial as a whole, certain circumstances merit special notice. It is worth while, first, to call attention to that which is only too common in the police annals of our country,- the unsystematic methods of investigating such
The radical fault is a lack of thoroughness and attention to details, as well as the failure to keep in mind at the time of a crime that prosecution may ensue and to prepare for the requirements of proof that will be insisted upon at a trial. Some of the many illustrations of this in the present case may be noted. (1) The autopsy-physician at the morgue did not measure the finger-nail incisions, - thought there was not much difference between finger-nails in general. (2) The police officer who made the model of the church which was placed before the jury described it in his testimony as based on measurements taken by himself and “another officer, I do not remember who it was; so that the model came very near being excluded as unverified.
The prosecution's view of his real purpose, which could not be brought out on this trial, was that he was
waiting for Miss Williams, as
? 29 Am. Law Review, 892.