Wed, Feb. 26

1923: COTTONWOOD DUEL; R. L. Johnson Killed by H. G. Hall, May 12, Part 5.


"Bit by bit, the character of Johnson, the slain man, was torn to shreds by the attorney for the defense. Johnson, he said, for many years had been engaged in the bootlegging business in this state, in New Mexico and in Old Mexico, and often had been in trouble. 'I will show you,' Mr. O'Sullivan said, 'that Johnson had conducted a bootlegging and gambling joint, a 'blind pig,' directly across the street from Hall's place of business.'"

"'Not long ago, Hall went to the deceased and told him that he had been informed that Johnson had beaten his wife and had held a lighted cigar on her hand in the way of punishment and added that Johnson would have to cut that out. Of course, Johnson became sore at Hall. Soon after that Hall was informed that Johnson was a bad man and that he had beaten a man over the head with a gun as the man was playing cards in his pool room. Johnson was a gun man,' he said, 'and was in the strike at Bisbee where he helped deport the miners from that camp.'"

"Hall occasionally drank too much, Mr. O'Sullivan announced, but only when his heart hurt him."

"Then followed the story of the shooting with this difference, that Mr. O'Sullivan told the jurors he would be able to prove that Johnson had fired the first shot, following it with four others, while Hall, shooting last, had fired only two shots."

"This afternoon, Hall was called to testify in his own behalf. It was with difficulty that he was made to understand the questions put to him by his counsel, his hearing being very poor. The man, white and ghostlike from his close call from death following the gun fight, told with much detail of the younger years, a story that, it is expected, will lead up to the fact that he was ill during the greater part of his life, nervous and not entirely responsible."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Wednesday, June 13, 1923; pages 1, 3.)

"END TESTIMONY IN HALL TRIAL: CASE TO JURY; Night Session Speeds Up Murder Hearing of Cottonwood Garage Owner; CROWDS FILL COURT."

"After three days of taking testimony in the murder trial of Harry Garrison Hall, Cottonwood garage man and butcher, who is charged with slaying Robert Johnson in a pistol duel there on May 12, the arguments in the case opened this morning before a crowded court room." ...

"Assistant County Attorney J. Andrew West opened the argument for the state. After a brief review of the facts of the case, he launched into a scathing attack upon the testimony given yesterday by the defendant, Hall, and that of the witnesses for the defense. Particularly did he direct the attention of the jurors to that part of Hall's testimony where he stated that he had thrown the first bottle at Johnson in order to knock the gun out of his hand."

"'I'll speak for Johnson, who rests silently in the grave,' Mr. West said. 'He had the right to pull a gun when this defendant threatened to go home and get a gun to end his life. He had the right when Hall came back with the gun and when he began to throw three-pound bottles at him.'"

"'Hall, who was an ex-convict from Bismark,' West said, 'did not shoot to defend himself but to kill Johnson. In fact, it was a dead man who shot him. Johnson was shooting as his heart's blood was ebbing away. That is true,' he added, 'or the man the defense marks as a 'gun toter' and 'bad man' would not have missed Hall with the four other bullets.'" ...

"Joseph H. Morgan, one of the defense counsel, opened for Hall, lashing the assistant county attorney in his opening words, for bringing up the fact that Hall, 25 years ago, had either stolen or killed a cow." ...

"Mr. Morgan then turned a strong light upon the fact that the presumption of innocence must, in law, be on the side of the defendant in a criminal action." ...

"Following Mr. Morgan, Mr. O'Sullivan spoke for more than two hours for the defense, his eloquence, well known in the court room, and his bitter sarcasm vying with each other throughout the argument." ...

"Mr. O'Sullivan riddled the character of the slain man. Johnson was, he said, a bad man, well rid of, well out of the way. A gun man and one who made his living by gambling and bootlegging, Mr. O'Sullivan said, and a man who had threatened the life of the defendant."

"Stress was laid on the fact that the defendant, a man now 50 years of age, practically had been an invalid since his tenth year and frequently resorted to the use of liquor for the alleviation of pain. He, also was a credit to his community." ...

"Following the lead of the assistant county attorney earlier in the day, Mr. O'Sullivan spent some time tearing down the testimony of the witness for the state. Norton, .. he declared, was not even near the pool hall at the time of the shooting, though he had said he was an eye-witness."

"At 3 o'clock this afternoon, Mr. O'Sullivan still continued his argument. It was expected that County Attorney Robert McMurchie, closing for the state, would conclude his side of the argument late this evening and that the case would go to the jury before night."

(Prescott Evening Courier; Thursday, June 14, 1923; page 1 column 4, and page 3, column 2.)


"T. C. Hill, foreman of the Hall jury, reported to Judge Sweeney at 10;30 last night after the jury had been out for 54 hours that there was no chance of a verdict. Judge Sweeney asked the individual members if they concurred in this statement and received affirmative answers."

"The court announced its regret over the inability of the jury to find a verdict and at the loss of time involved in the fruitless deliberations and then discharged the jurors from further consideration of the case." ...

"Hall will be retried for the murder, but when the second trial can be held is not known."

(Prescott Jurnal-Miner; Sunday, June 18, 1923; page 1, column 4.)

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