April 14, 1909
CLAIMED ILL TREATMENT LED
MRS. ROSE PETERSON.
Facing a charge of murder in the second degree, Rose Peterson, 19 years old, was on trial before Judge Ralph Latshaw in the criminal court yesterday afternoon. Throughout the proceedings she did not once look at the twelve men who are to decide her fate. She is accused of killing her husband, Fred Peterson, on the night of December 22, by shooting him three times while the two were returning home from a dance.
The defendant was neatly gowned in a plain dress of black and wore a turban hat trimmed with black lace. A gold bracelet and two small rings were the only display of jewelry. With her left arm thrown over the back of a chair, Mrs. Peterson buried her face on her arm and sat in that position all afternoon. She constantly trembled and every now and then sobbed aloud when Frank M. Lowe, her attorney, mentioned the name of her husband.
Following I. B. Kimbrell, who in assisting the state in the prosecution, outlined what the state would attempt to prove. Mr. Lowe made a brief resume of what the defense would how in justification of the shooting. He said the defendant practically would be the only witness and would testify that she was induced to go to St. Joseph with Fred Peterson, who promised to marry her there, but that the ceremony was delayed for two months. The defense will endeavor to show that Rose Peterson, after her marriage, earned a living not only for herself, but supported her husband, and that he mistreated her; that he drew a knife and threatened to cut her on one occasion and continually threatened to inform her mother how they had lived in St. Joseph.
"If you do tell, you will never tell anything else," Attorney Lowe said the defendant would testify she replied.
Mrs. Sophia Peterson, mother of Fred Peterson, was the first witness for the state. Grief overcame her at the beginning of her examination.
"I can't stay here," she sobbed, attempting to leave the witness stand.
Judge Latshaw allowed her to retire until she could control her feelings. When she again took the stand she testified that Fred was 20 years old when he was killed, and 18 when he was married. She said she followed the couple to St. Joseph and that Rose, her daughter-in-law, begged her to assist them in being married and that she did so. Mrs. Peterson also told the jury of the young wife coming to her home the night she shot her husband.
"I've shot Fred and if you want to see him alive you will have to hurry," Mrs. Peterson said Rose told her.
The state introduced a letter written by Rose Peterson to her husband about a month before the shooting occurred. It read, in part:
"It is a good thing you ran today. I would have got you, anyhow, if so many people had not been standing around. You stay away from me. Don't you go any place I am. I won't call for you or go to your home or shop anymore. If you want me to go on in that case I will. Fred, go away from Kansas City and don't you come back. I am not afraid of you any more. I will get you if it is ten years. I am willing for my freedom as you are."
Frank Page, a motorman on a Jackson avenue car, testified that as his car passed the scene of the shooting he saw the body of Peterson. He stopped his car and with the conductor, R. E. Moore, went back. At first he testified he saw no one near, but later noticed the defendant climbing up to the sidewalk from the ditch at the side. She was not excited or crying, according to the witness. Asked what she said, he answered:
"She said, 'I shot him because he slapped me. There is the pistol.' She said his folks should be notified and told us where they lived."
"Oh Fred, don't die," the witness said Rose Peterson begged.
On cross-examination the witness admitted that in the preliminary hearing he testified that he had not heard her say her husband had slapped her. Other witnesses were Arthur Detalent, a tailor, who identified the clothes worn by Fred Peterson; Patrolman Patrick Coon, who arrested the defendant, and F. Frick, who was assistant prosecuting attorney at the time, and took the defendant's statement.
A witness for the state who failed to appear was Hal Jensen, a baker. He sent word that he had a batch of dough in process and could not leave it. Judge Latshaw refused to issue for him because he said he used that bread himself and did not want it ruined. The trial will be continued at 9 o'clock this morning.