Barber County Kansas
On Christmas eve Oscar Crawford killed Liva Rule at Sharon by stabbing and cutting him. The fatal cut was near the ear in the side of the neck and the knife ranged so as to sever the jugular vein. Mr. Rule lived only about twenty minutes after the cutting.
The boys had always been on the best of terms and were out for a time Christmas eve but they got to quarreling with the fatal result noted. The immediate cause of the fight was that Crawford spoke very harshly to Rule's younger brother. Liva resented it and a fight followed. They were separated but Crawford found him again and attacked him with a knife.
The crime is no surprise to the people of Medicine Lodge and Sharon. Last fall Mr. Crawford shot a man in Medicine Lodge although it did not happen to prove fatal. But he was not even arrested and it was predicted then that it would be only a question of time until he would commit another crime. The Index criticized this action at the time and if our advice in the matter had been taken there would not be another heartbroken family in Barber county today. A mistake or negligence that is paid for in human blood is without palliation or excuse.
Mr. Crawford was brought to town immediately after the murder and locked in jail. On Thursday Sheriff Gano, Coroner Moore, County Attorney Griffin and J. N. Tichner, county attorney-elect, went to Sharon and impaneled a jury and held an inquest. The jury returned a verdict finding that Liva Rule met his death from cuts inflicted by Oscar Crawford, and Crawford must therefore answer to murder in the first degree at the next term of court. It would have been far better for Mr. Crawford as well as his parents who are among our very best citizens, if he had been prosecuted on his lesser offense committed last fall. If he is convicted now of either first or second degree murder it means life imprisonment while in the other case he would have received but a few years and he might have been made a better man. His disposition is not a desirable one. We know too few facts to say whether the dead man was at fault or not but it is conceded that the killing was premeditated. His preliminary hearing will be held before Justice Collins January 5th.
Liva Rule, the murdered young man, was a son of Henry Rule, of Sharon. Oscar Crawford, the man arrested, is a son of J. F. Crawford of Medicine Lodge township. The affair is all the more deplorable and sad on account of the high standing of both families.
G. M. Martin has been retained to defend the case. It will fall on the new county attorney, J. N. Tichner, to prosecute. It is more than probable that other counsel will be employed by both sides. It is the first murder case in this county since 1897.
The funeral services over the remains of Liva Rule were held at Sharon on Friday. A very large crowd of people gathered to attend it, and it was indeed a very sorrowful occasion. The Index is deeply touched by the awful pangs of sorrow which both families must suffer on account of this event and the sympathy of the entire county is due them.
The preliminary hearing of Oscar Crawford charged with murder of Liva Rule was conducted before Justice Collins in this city last Friday and Saturday, with the result that the accused was committed to jail without bail to await trial in the district court in February.
At this hearing the state was represented by County Attorney Griffin and the incoming county attorney, J. N. Tincher, A. L. Noble and W. G. Robertson, of Springfield, Mo.
The defendant was represented by G. M. Martin and Col. John Crawford, of El Reno, an uncle to the defendant. It is said that W. P. Hackney of Winfield, and Judge Wall, of Wichita, two leading criminal lawyers of the state, will assist in the defense at trial in the district court.
Mr. Griffin will not be identified with the case any longer, his term of office having expired. Mr. Noble has been employed by the county to assist in the prosecution. Mr. Robertson has been employed by Mr. Rule.
So far as legal ability goes both sides are evenly matched.
It is expected that more than a week will be consumed in the trial next month. The evidence is lengthy and there will be some difficulty in obtaining a jury.
Judge Gillet and his stenographer arrived in the city Monday afternoon and convened court promptly at 8 p.m. The criminal docket was first called and assigned.
The rape case against Jas. Anderson was dismissed on motion of County Attorney Tincher. Mr. Anderson was arrested in December charged with committing rape on his step daughter, Mrs. Clara Teagle and held for trial in the district court. When County Attorney Tincher came into his office and investigated into the evidence he concluded there was nothing in it and dismissed. Uncle Jimmie is receiving the congratulations of his friends.
J. E. Coryell entered a plea of guilty on the charge of statutory rape and was sentenced to a term of six years and six months at hard labor in the penitentiary.
The preliminary skirmishes in the Crawford murder case were disposed of Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Applications for plea in abatement change of venue, motion to quash and motion for continuance were overruled. The application for change of venue was vigorously pressed and 46 affidavits were submitted, from people who thought that Crawford could not get a fair trail in Barber county, but the state submitted as many from people who thought he could and Judge Gillett denied the application. The argument of the application was very interesting and the newspapers of the county as well as the attorneys' in the case were the recipients of bouquets of exceeding aroma. The newspapers were also apprised of the number of deadhead readers which they have from week to week. We took notice that many men where prejudiced by the Index articles at the time of the murder, who we heretofore supposed had never seen the Index.
The case will go to trial tomorrow.
Pierce vs. Pierce decree of divorce granted and plaintiff given custody of child.
State Vs. Moses Wright is set for the 18th.
(Note: The congratulations given to "Uncle Jimmy" Anderson were premature; the very next week he made a settlement with the Teague family. See: The Anderson Case, The Barber County Index, February 18, 1903.)
Most all of last week was consumed in securing a jury in the Crawford murder case. It was completed Saturday at 8:30 p.m., after exhausting the regular panel and two special venires - one of 43 and another of 24 - a total of 85 men. The following persons compose the jury:
Howard Hall, Eagle
J. B. Milam, Hazelton
H. C. Walker, Turkey Creek
Wm. Barkley, Hazelton
A. F. Bucklin, Cedar
Wm. Clark, Mingona
John Wright, Hazelton
L. R. McKay, Valley
J. F. Blackwelder, Valley
W. O. French, Valley
F. H. Thresher, Valley
R. H. Frederick, Deerhead
The first evidence in the case was introduced on Monday morning and the case is still on trial. It will probably go to jury today.
This trial is the result of the awful tragedy at Sharon on Christmas eve when Oscar Crawford stabbed and killed his companion and friend, Liva Rule. The sad misfortune has been recited in these columns before and the public is well acquainted with its fatality. The boys had always been friends but on that eventful night they got to quarreling and after a fight in which Crawford was somewhat punished by Rule, the former sprung upon the latter and cut him in the neck from which he bled to death in half hour.
The defense set up the plea of mental irresponsibility. They claimed that on account of having been beaten by the deceased and on account of having been under the influence of liquor he was temporarily deranged and did not know what he was doing. Several witnesses were introduced to substantiate their theory. The state combats this theory vigorously and has witnesses to prove that Crawford knew what he was doing. Drunkenness of course is no defense, but insanity is.
The attorneys in the case are County Attorney Tincher, A. L. Nobel and W. G. Robertson, of Springfield, Mo., for the state, and G. M. Martin, Col. J. W. Crawford and Judge C. W. Ellis for the defense. Judge Ellis was employed after Gov. Stanley quit the case.
This is the first murder case since the Noel case four years ago and has aroused great public interest. The attorneys and the court are covering all the ground carefully and no legal talent is going to waste.
In the Kiowa liquor prosecutions a compromise was effected whereby Messrs. Cunningham and Dobson were permitted to plead guilty to a violation of club house ordinance and pay a fine of $100 and no jail sentence.
The jury in the Carwford murder case returned a verdict of murder in the first degree at midnight last Wednesday night, after deliberating five hours. The evidence in the case was concluded on Tuesday evening and the entire following day was consumed in argument by the various attorneys.
Only three ballots were necessary. The first was to decide whether there should be a conviction in some degree or acquittal. It stood 11 for conviction and 1 for acquittal. The second was 9 for murder in the first degree and 3 for murder in the second degree. On the third ballot the jury was unanimous for murder in the first degree.
The prosecution opened with County Attorney Tincher. He was followed by Judge C. W. Ellis for the defense. A. L. Nobel followed Judge Ellis for the state. G. M. Martin followed Mr. Nobel for the defense. Judge W. G. Robertson, of Springfield, mo., closed for the state.
The court room was packed with interested listeners and it was a most solemn ordeal for the interested parties, and they all had the full sympathy of the multitude of people assembled. The attorneys on both sides of the case were well worth hearing. The defense, of course, labored under much difficulty. They had to combat public sentiment as well as face strong uncontradicted evidence, but for all that they made an able fight. G. M. Martin's speech on this occasion and especially his masterly, scholarly and eloquent discourse on Mercy in the creative age, was as fine as anything we ever heard in a court room. It brought tears to the eyes of many of the listeners and the defendant himself broke down and went copiously - the first and only time he was visibly affected during the entire ordeal from the time of the fatal Christmas eve night when the crime was committed.
Judge Robertson's speech at the close was forcible and logical. He consumed nearly two hours, and during that time covered the whole case admirably. His speech struck close to every law respected and had much effect. A. L. Nobel's summing up of the case was also of much assistance to the jury, and County Attorney Tincher received a number of congratulations on his opening speech.
Col. Crawford, the defendant's uncle who was an attorney in the case, did not make as argument presumably for the reason that he was a relative.
Judge Ellis was not called into the case until after Gov. Stanley left and hence was placed at a disadvantage but he did some admirable work at cross examination. The judge retired from the practice a year ago, but entered this case on the spur of the moment after earnest solicitation on the part of the defendant's father.
The closing hours of this trial were shrouded with deep sorrow and inconsolable anguish. On the side sat the father, mother and sister of the deceased with heads bowed, and hearts burdened. On the other side was Oscar Crawford with his father and mother beside him. Their hearts, too, were troubled as severely as the Rule family and as the awful truths were uttered by the attorney's, the plea for mercy and sympathy mingled with a recital of the stern and irresistible law, there was ample room for pity and regret on both sides of the case.
But with all its sadness, it is general feeling that justice has been done. It will not fill the vacant chair in the home of Henry Rule. It will not restore to that good mother and sister a beloved son and brother, but it will teach to Oscar Crawford and other young men of his temperament and habits that crime must and will surely be punished.
For J. F. Crawford and his estimable wife, the parents of the prisoner, the Index has the most devout sympathy and we know that this feeling is general. They are among our very best citizens. It is a matter of great regret that they are thus troubled.
Oscar Crawford killed Liva Rule on the night of December 24, 1902 after having been whipped by Mr. Rule. Crawford addressed a vile epithey to Rule's younger brother and Rule took him to task and gave him a beating. They were separated and Rule was led in the direction of home. Crawford followed after him and cut him eight times with a large knife and his victim died within a half hour. Two wounds were fatal - one over the left kidney and another severing a large artery in the neck.
Under this conviction the prisoner will be sentenced to death, but in Kansas the death penalty is not enforced. A precedent has been established under which governors do not sign death warrants and hence Mr. Crawford is subject to life imprisonment at hard labor in the penitentiary.
It is stated that no appeal to the supreme court will be taken. Mr. Crawford and his attorneys will doubtless devote their energies to securing a commutation of any steps are taken at all.
The cost of the prosecution of the Crawford murder case is lighter than any murder case the county has ever had. The total cost to the county will not exceed $600. Usually $1000 is considered cheap for a case of this character. The sheriff, county attorney, jury and court are all entitled to the congratulations of the public for the speedy manner in which the case was disposed of.
GUNS AND MOBS: Oscar Crawford and Oliver Quick Mix With the Show Outfit and Find Trouble.
Barber County Index, September 24, 1902.
P.W. CRAWFORD, paternal grandfather of Oscar Crawford, died in Sharon, Kansas, of Bright's disease on January 2, 1903.