Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Tombstone courthouse1919Prologue

Tombstone, Arizona

May 16, 1919

A hefty gust of wind whirled down the dusty road leading to the Cochise County Courthouse, a solitary tumbleweed skipping crazily in its wake. Lengthening shadows from the Whetstone Mountains pointed towards the courthouse, where an unusually large crowd had gathered to soak in the warmth from the late afternoon sun while waiting for the deliberating jury to pronounce its verdict in the case of The State vs. Hale Chenoweth for the murder of Claud McDowell. The jury had already, on several occasions, attempted to declare themselves unable to deliver a verdict; Superior Court Judge Alfred C. Lockwood had, however, sent them back to continue deliberation in the hope that they would be able to reach a definite verdict. Regardless, today would be the day; Criminal sessions would be closed until the next criminal term at the Superior Court, beginning on September 29 and Judge Lockwood would be unreachable until that date, due to his vacation starting early the next day.

Defense attorneys W.G. Gilmore and Frank Doan conferred anxiously together until the courthouse door swung open and Sheriff J.F. McDonald announced, “The jury is returning with their verdict.”

A sudden nervousness charged the air as the attorneys for both sides, together with the witnesses and family members involved in the case, entered the building just moments before the members of the jury, accompanied by their bailiffs, reentered the court. Counsel for both sides waived the roll call and the jury advised the Court, through their foreman, that they were unable to agree upon a verdict.

Judge Lockwood, convinced at that point that an agreement among the jury members was indeed impossible, dismissed the jury from further involvement in the case. “The defendant is hereby remanded to the custody of Sheriff McDonald. This court is now…”

“Your Honor?” Mr. Gilmore interrupted the judge before he could finish the statement.

Looking at his watch, Judge Lockwood motioned resignedly to the defense counsel. “Yes, Counsel? Make it quick, please.”

“Your Honor, since the defendant was found neither guilty nor innocent, we request that the defendant be released on bail.”

“Bail is set at $10,000. Now, if there is nothing more, this court is adjourned until September 17, 1919 at 9:00 a.m.”