Thursday, July 21, 2011

TIME MACHINE ... June, 1879 (Part 5 of 5)

(As published in the Warren Ledger, Warren, Pa.)


Details of the most remarkable crime on record.

A Woman Who Wanted To Marry One Of Her Own Sex.

Baltimore, May 27.- The trial of Miss Lillie Duer on an indictment for fatally shooting her once intimate friend and associate, Miss Ella Hearn, is fixed for tomorrow, at Snow Hill, Worcester County, Md.

(PART 5)

I had some difficulty in obtaining an interview with Miss Duer. She was self-possessed and did not appear to be in any great distress either about the shooting or the approaching trial. Occasionally when speaking of other matters she would smile and once during my visit laughed quite merrily. She sat opposite me along the other side of a long table, and while conversing would look directly in my eyes, scarcely even dropping hers while the talk continued. Both her father and mother were present. The former is a quiet, easy going sort of a man and said but little, but the mother, who was remarkably like her daughter in appearance, watched the conversation closely and would occasionally check Miss Lillie in a half-formed sentence, by a quick look and a sudden gesture of the hand. Miss Duer said that she had been badly treated by the press and had always been misrepresented. The trial would, she said, show that newspapermen were apt to say more than they had a right to, and more very frequently than they had heard. She declares that the shooting was purely accidental. She called to see Ella for the purpose of taking a walk. She did not want to go. I begged her. She refused. I then wanted to kiss her. I had the pistol in my hand after giving up the attempt to kiss her when the pistol went off. I am not a murderess. I visited her twice during her illness. The first time she heard my voice and called me. I went into the room and she received me by putting her arms around my neck. She then said, "Lil, what's the matter with me?" I told her that she was hurt. "Who hurt me?" she asked. "I, Ella," I replied, "It was I who did it." "Then you did not do it purposely, did you?" Miss Duer denies the statement that has been circulated that she had left Pocomoke City for Baltimore in male attire.

There are two lines of defense proposed- accidental shooting and insanity. Miss Duer, it is understood, objects to the latter, and says that she would rather go to prison than to be proved insane. She is very sensitive upon this point and it is quite likely that the plea of insanity will not be entered.

(As published in the New York Times- June 18, 1879)

Samuel H. Townsend, State's Attorney for Worcester County, opened the argument on the part of the state. He claimed that jealousy prompted the act. That there was malice prepense there was abundant proof. He did not believe the theory of chloral poisoning or that of accidental shooting had been made out. The weight of the testimony was that antecedent actions of the accused girl showed malice aforethought, and her effort to induce Ella Hearn to go to the woods with her showed a terrible meaning on her part, and she contemplated that which would produce serious results. He called up the dying declaration of the dead girl, and declared she could not stand in the presence of God and utter a lie. He asserted that the testimony of the prisoner was too smooth, and filled with too much self interest to be true.

A.P Barnes made the opening argument for the defense. He analyzed the testimony for the state, and said there had been nothing to warrant the assumption that the shot wounding Miss Hearn was other than accidental. With regard to the alleged disagreement between the prisoner and Miss Hearn on the evening previous to the shooting, he insisted that no such disagreement took place, nor was any such language used by Miss Duer as was imputed to her. He claimed death resulted from the effects of improper medical treatment. Authorities were cited to show that an accidental shooting could not be construed as a crime. The testimony (of Mrs. Mason) in relation to the dying declaration of Miss Hearn, that the prisoner shot at her two weeks before, was discredited by the fact that it was in proof that the prisoner did not have possession of the pistol at that time. It had been shown that 2,400 grains of chloral had been carried to the house of Mr.Hearn for his daughter, and it was given her from the day of the shooting to the day of her death.

Footnote: The defense called Lillie Duer to the stand for testimony; she was not cross-examined by the state.

(Tomorrow... The jury's verdict.)

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