Verde heritage 1937: COTTONWOOD LUMBER COMPANY; Attempted Murder on Main Street, Part 2

LANGFORD TRIAL RESET BY THE COURT ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1937

"After the scene had all been set to try Olin Langford, 38, of the Verde Valley, in the Yavapai County Superior Court on Monday, before Judge Richard Lamson and a jury, ... the court continued the trial until Wednesday, January 5, on a motion of Leo T. Stack, defense attorney." He claimed "that the wife of the defendant, who was to be the principal witness for the defense, was sick and unable to come to the trial, ... supported by an affidavit furnished by Dr. J. M. Walsh, of Clarkdale."

Attorney Stack "was unable to obtain any witness, except his wife, who saw him just prior to the offense. She will testify that Langford was driven to exasperation ... and worried to 'such an extent that his mind went blank.'"

"It is the contention of the state that Langford went to the lumber company office in an intoxicated condition and opened fire on the Edens with a .45 caliber pistol because Edens had filed a material lien against the defendant for some lumber he bought." ...

(Prescott Evening Courier; Tuesday, December 14, 1937; page 3.)

PSYCHIATRIST TAKES THE STAND IN THE TRIAL

"A great deal of interest in the Olin Langford trial, on a charge of assaulting Mr. and Mrs. Edens, of Cottonwood, with a deadly weapon (a .45 revolver) with the intent to commit murder, was injected today when the state put a psychiatrist on the stand to refute the claim of the defendant that he was suffering from temporary insanity when he shot the Edens and wounded them."

"He was Dr. Frederick D. Baier, from the state hospital in Phoenix, who the defense attorney, Leo T. Stack, brought out, was being paid $100 a day to testify in the case. Dr. Baier was asked almost endless hypothetical questions both by the state and the defense until Judge Richard Lamson called a halt to them when the questioning threatened to get into the realm of hypnotism."

"From the facts given him about this case, Dr. Baier refused to call it amnesia, which the defense contended was what was the matter with Langford. A man suffering from amnesia ordinarily does so because of some severe shock, such as having his whole family killed in an accident. A man with amnesia does not remember his name, where he lives, or any thing about his family. Langford, on the contrary, remembered where his home was and also his hard feelings against the Edens, who had served a lien against his property."

"The state brought in witnesses to support the state's contention that Langford did remember what was going on, while the defense produced others, 3 jail prisoners, 'Prosecutor' Earl Guiex, 'Sheriff' Elton Burr, and 'Judge' Cruz Estrella, so titled because of their connections with the kangaroo court in jail, who claimed Langford acted abnormally a day or two when he was locked in jail, but he did not furnish his name to them."

"State rebuttal witnesses this morning were Bill Hemler, Frank M. Andrews, S. E. Kent, and Matt Hall."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Friday, January 7, 1938; page 2.)

TRIAL OF OLIN LANGFORD CONTINUES ON JANUARY 8, 1938

"For a time this afternoon the Yavapai County Superior Court" jury was closeted after the heavy trial. "County Attorney Ewing and his deputy, John R. Franks, representing the state, and Leo T. Stack, counsel for Langford, put a score of witnesses on the stand Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, then devoted 2 hours or more this morning to presenting their final arguments to the jury. Langford's defense was amnesia, but in refuting that contention the state produced a" psychiatrist "to testify that none of Langford's actions supported the claim that he was suffering from amnesia when he fired half a dozen shots in the lumber office, inflicting a minor wound upon the person of Mrs. Edens, and a more severe wound upon her husband" ... (Prescott Evening Courier; January 8, 1938; page 2.)

JURY CONVICTS OLIN LANGFORD

"After about 8 hours of deliberation, a Yavapai County Superior Court jury early Saturday night convicted Olin Langford, of Cottonwood, of assaulting Mr. and Mrs. Frank Edens, of the same town, with a deadly weapon with the intent to commit murder, but the jury recommended leniency in its report to Judge Richard Lamson. He fixed Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock as the time for passing sentence." ...

"Leo T. Stack, attorney for the Cottonwood man, said this morning he intends to move for a new trial just before Langford comes up for sentence. In his defense, Stack developed the idea that Langford was temporarily insane when he entered the office of the Cottonwood Lumber Company on November 17, and supposedly not knowing what he was doing because of worry over a material lien just placed on his property by the lumber company, opened fire with a .45 revolver upon the Edens who own and operate the lumber yard. The lumberman suffered a deep flesh wound in the thigh; Mrs. Edens, a minor flesh wound in the leg."

"When the officers arrived, Langford was sprawled on the floor, with what looked like powder burns on his face but no other injury. He apparently had fainted or was in what seemed to be a semi-conscious state. He asked a deputy sheriff for the gun he had used in order to take his life."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Saturday, January 10, 1938; pages 1 and 8.)

MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL

"Passing sentence in the case of Olin Langford, of Cottonwood, convicted by a jury ... was continued until Thursday. ... At that time Langford's attorney, Leo T. Stack, who put up a stubborn defense with but little to go on, will argue a motion for a new trial. He filed the motion today. It sets up 2 main grounds --- first, the refusal of the court to instruct the jury on the lesser grades of offenses involved in the crime and second, the admission of evidence prejudicial to the defendant." (Prescott Evening Courier; Tuesday, January 11, 1938; page 1.) "In view of the fact that a motion has been filed for a new trial ... the case was continued until Monday." (Prescott Evening Courier; Thursday, January 13, 1938; age 6.)

5 TO 8 YEARS FOR LANGFORD

"Five to eight years in the state penitentiary at Florence was the sentence imposed this morning in the Yavapai County Superior Court by Judge Richard Lamson on Olin Langford, of Cottonwood, for assaulting Mr. and Mrs. Frank Edens, of the Cottonwood Lumber Company, with a deadly weapon with the intent to commit murder November 17."

"Before he pronounced sentence the court denied a motion for a new trial made on behalf of the defendant by his attorney, Leo T. Stack, who argued that the court permitted the introduction of testimony prejudicial to the defendant, particularly the testimony of Deputy Sheriff Earl Stone, of the Verde Valley, with respect to disarming Langford last March after finding him waiting with a bloody face outside a saloon for 'a man to come out,' Edens by supposition; that the court failed to define 'insanity,' which was the defendant's plea; and that the court failed to instruct the jury in the lesser degrees of the crime on which a verdict could have been reached, such as assault with a deadly weapon or aggravated assault."

"These arguments were answered by John R. Franks, Deputy County Attorney, whose purpose it was to show the distinction in the law cases Stack quoted from the application in the case."

"After the new trial motion had been denied, then Stack made another for the court to suspend the imposition of sentence, largely on the grounds that if sentenced the defendants large family would be left destitute."

"County attorney Charles L. Ewing addressed the court in connection with that motion and again the state won."

"Langford was accused by the state of having entered the lumber office late in the afternoon, armed with a .45 caliber revolver for which he had paid $15 just a short time before, and with the remark that now was the time to settle everything, opened fire on Mrs. Edens [his cousin], just missing her once, then hitting her in the thigh before she ducked into a safe. Meanwhile, her husband ducked under a table in the office but he was shot in the thigh too. His wound, however, was more severe than the one Mrs. Edens suffered."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Monday, January 17, 1938.)

OLIN LANGFORD, prisoner #010960, entered Florence on January 19, 1938. (Historical Prison Register; Arizona Department of Corrections.)

When their fifth child was born during September of 1931, "Albert Olan" and Mildred (Gaddis) Langford were living at Cottonwood where he had been working for 3 years as a helper at a lumberyard. One of their children had already died, then a baby died during 1934. After another baby was born on October 3, 1937, there were 7 living children. By that time, the father used the name "Olan A. Langford." Both parents were born in Texas. (Certificates of Birth and Certificates of Death.) Mrs. Langford moved with her family from their Smelter City home to a small 2-bedroom cottage near the Cottonwood Lumber Company and the home of W. Frank and Elta (Langford) Edens.

1939 FELON PAROLE

"Notified that 6 felons convicted in Yavapai County last year for crimes ranging from forgery to attempted murder, are eligible for parole and will be granted hearings at the state penitentiary at Florence January 24, County Attorney Charles Ewing, today sought permission of the Board of Pardons and Paroles to appear in protest of what he termed 'mockery of the law.' Almost without exception, the 6 men Yavapai County spent thousands of dollars to convict of crimes against society, are hardened criminals. To grant most of them probation on parole would be a disgrace." ...

"Olin Langford, convicted and sentenced January 17, 1938, for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to commit murder, received a 5 to 8 year sentence. He will have served 1 year, 7 days, when eligible for parole." ...

(Prescott Evening Courier; January 5, 1939; pages 1 and 3.)

Comments

Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.