January 6, 1909
Six and one-half years in jail, three times convicted of the murder of his own 5-year-old son, John Martin Speyer, showman, stepped out of the county court house yesterday a free man. At 38 years of age he again faces the world, leaving on the county's books one of the most unique records ever entered opposite the name of a model prisoner.
Three times the supreme court held that Speyer was insane when he killed Fred, his child, and the prosecuting attorney, Virgil Conkling, believed a fourth trial would result in the same finding. So, when Speyer was taken before Judge E. E. Porterfield of Division 2 of the criminal court yesterday, Mr. Conkling dismissed the charge against the prisoner.
Judge Porterfield, in releasing Speyer, impressed upon him the fact that he was still a young man and able to make a good record in the world. The judge continued:
"I cannot believe that you were responsible for your actions when you killed your child. The supreme court has said so three times. The world, I believe, looks upon you with charity and expects of you only good conduct in the future. What you must have suffered from the realization of your act no doubt has been greater punishment than the imprisonment you have undergone. You are now free. Is there anything you wish to say to this court?"
Speyer, almost unnerved at his release after long imprisonment, rose slowly and said:
"You are right. The realization of what my act has meant has been to me far greater punishment than the law could possibly inflict. I intend to live an upright life. I was irresponsible when I committed the act which brought me to jail. By my conduct in the future I hope to make some small reparation. I thank you all for your kindness to me."
After shaking hands with everyone near, including the jailer, Speyer went to the jail and gathered up his few possessions, among them the manuscript of his lecture on prison life. As he had no money, deputies in the office of the county marshal made up a purse of about $15. Speyer said he would go to 520 East Eleventh street, the home of George McCabe, until he could find employment.
Labels: criminal court, Eleventh street, jail, Judge Porterfield, Prosecutor Conkling