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July 31, 1909



With a smile and a "Good-by everybody," Claud Brooks stepped into eternity. He made the scaffold his stage, and for a few brief seconds seemed to enjoy being enough of a spectacle to cause fifty men and boys, all white, to crowd to see him.

In fourteen minutes after 9:15, when Marshal Joel B. Mayes sprang the trap, he had been pronounced dead. The law had taken its vengeance for the death of Sidney Herndon, struck down in cold blood eighteen months ago.

Brooks taunted one of the deputies with being nervous and asked another not to tie him so tight, as he would not attempt to resist. A few moments later he dropped to his death.

With appetite Brooks at breakfast ate the catfish which had been provided for him according to his wish. Then he asked for whisky, which also was given him. And then for two hours the Rev. E. S. Willett, Rev. J. W. Hurst, Rev. S. W. Bacote and Rev. J. C. Dickson prayed and sang with him. Half an hour before the execution he was given the sacrament. And then the nervousness, if he previously felt any, vanished.

Into the room where the gallows stand there was admitted a motley crowd of some fifty. There were policemen by the fives. There were boys who looked barely over 17. There were men of many types, not to mention several well known in the business life of the town.

Outside, crowds threatened to storm the jail to gain entrance. Marshal Mayes asked the police to protect the entrance into the jail wagon yard, which the crowd appeared to take by storm. Some half a hundred got into the criminal court room, from which the gallows was shut off by brick walls.

Still others stood outside, waiting to catch a fleeting glimpse of what was once a human being. Children of tender years and women with the imprint of respectability were among the number.

Eighteen months ago Brooks killed Sidney Herndon, owner of the Navarro flats at Twelfth and Baltimore, four feet of stature and crippled. He killed him with a hammer. The motive was robbery. The negro got more than $100. Out of this he bought a suit of clothes and hired a carriage to take him to the Union depot so he could escape. The rest he lost gambling and gave away. He was tried, convicted, his sentence affirmed by the supreme court and not considered otherwise than proper by the governor.

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July 1, 1909


Governor Hadley at Last Hour Sends
Thirty-Day Stay of Execution
for Claud Brooks.

Less than twenty-five minutes before the time set for the execution of Claude Brooks, the negro murderer, Marshal Joel Mayes received a telegram from Governor Hadley postponing the hanging until July 10. Mr. Mayes had a telephone conversation with the governor, but insisted on a telegram. The governor said the papers in the case would be sent to Kansas City at once.

Brooks, who was ready for his trip to the scaffold, showed no signs of emotion when told the news. He was taken from the death cell and placed in another part of the jail. The other prisoners, hearing the news, cheered.

The decision of the governor, it is said, was based upon the advice of a relative to whom the governor looks for recommendations in Kansas City criminal cases. This relative advised an inquiry into the sanity of Brooks. The governor sent the reprieve while this relative was at the county jail.

The time set for the hanging of Brooks was 9 o'clock yesterday morning. Brooks murdered Sidney Herndon, burned part of the evidence and made his escape. Now doctors say he is of a "low type of mentality."

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June 27, 1909


Negro Who Murdered Sidney Hern-
don Will Be Hanged June 30.

Claude Brooks will be hanged June 30 for the murder of Sidney Herndon. The death watch was put on the condemned negro last night. It was believed until yesterday afternoon that a respite of sixty days would be given. This was refused by the governor.

Mrs. Margaret Simmons, matron at the county jail, had a telephone conversation with Governor Hadley yesterday afternoon. The governor told her there would be no respite and that it would be useless for anyone to see him about a commutation of sentence.

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June 24, 1909


Colored Women in Jail Sang During
the Ceremony.

Claud Brooks, the negro now in a death cell in the county jail awaiting execution June 30 for the murder of Sidney Herndon, was baptized yesterday by the Rev. J. W. Hurse of St. Stephen's Baptist church. Three negro women, who are prisoners at the jail, sang while the ceremony was going on. The cell of Brooks is on the women's side of the jail.

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June 8, 1909


Claud Brooks to Be Hanged for
Murder June 30.

No preparations have been made at the county jail for the execution of Claud Brooks, who is to be hanged June 30 for the murder of Sidney Herndon, owner of the Navarro flats, Twelfth and Baltimore. Brooks will not be put into the condemned men's cell until June 10. It is customary to grant men sentenced to execution an reprieve of sixty days, and this may be done in the case of Brooks.

The condemned man spends most of his time praying.

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May 19, 1909



Severance Is Granted by Court
and the Two Fanatics Will Be
Given a Separate Trial.
(Sketched in criminal court room.)


Are you married?
How many children have you?
To what church do you belong?
Are you prejudiced against street preachers or against the doctrine propounded by the Sharps?If the evidence should show that tat the time of the commission of the crime, Sharp was so insane that he did not know right from wrong, would you hesitate to bring a verdict acquitting on that ground?

Of the forty-seven men from whom a jury will be chosen to try James Sharp on a charge of murder, ten were selected yesterday afternoon in the criminal court. In all, twenty-six who had been summoned were questioned and sixteen excused for cause. Of the ten, several may yet be excused because they are opposed to capital punishment.

At the present rate of progress, it seems likely that the forty-seven men required will have been secured by this noon or afternoon. Twenty-four hours will be allowed for challenges. The taking of testimony would thus be begun Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

Sharp will be tried alone for the killing of Michael Mullane, a city patrolman, in the city hall riot, December 8, last year. Sharp and Melissa Sharp, his wife, who called themselves Adam and Eve, were jointly charged with the crime. The court yesterday granted them a severance, and the state elected to try Sharp first.


The severance was taken after Judge Ralph S. Latshaw had denied the application of Sharp's attorneys for a change of venue to another county. A day was spent in the introduction of evidence by both sides as to whether prejudice existed in Jackson county which would make it impossible for Sharp to have a fair trial here.

Inasmuch as nearly every witness spoke for the Sharps as "religious fanatics" and the defense is to be insanity, the court ruled that a fair trial could be had. The selection of the jury from the 200 men who had been summoned was at once begun.

Sharp did not create any commotion in the court room , as he had on Monday. He sat quietly talking to his wife, who may not be his companion in court after this, as she is not now on trial. The two talked and laughed together and sometimes he wiped his eyes. Both seemed to take great interest in the selection of the jury.

John P. Mullane, an insurance man, brother of the dead officer, sat at the table with the states' attorneys. Virgil Conkling, prosecutor, and W. S. Garbriel and Harry Friedberg, assistants, conducted the examination of the jurors for the state.


As always in the selection of a jury, there were amusing incidents in plenty. One prospective juror, who works for an afternoon newspaper, testified that he seldom read anything in his paper except the headlines. The fact that he is the brother of the business manager caused much suppressed mirth. Another juror was excused because he declared himself absolutely opposed to a defense of insanity. Still another, who had attended Mullane's wake, was excused on motion of the state, after having been challenged by the defense.

To combat the defense of insanity, the state will be prepared to show that Adam God, from the very beginning of his career of religious leader, was the very shrewdest of men. The prosecution will attempt to show that his record fully bears out this contention and that Sharp never was, nor is he now, insane.

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April 29, 1909


J. M. Crane, Convicted of Murder,
but Committed as a Lunatic,
Coming to Kansas City.

ST. JOSEPH, MO., April 28. -- J. M. Crane, who was committed to the state hospital for the insane at this point about a year ago after having been given a life sentence in the penitentiary from Kansas City, for the murder of his wife, escaped late today. He had been given many privileges at the asylum of late, and it is believed made his escape after carefully planning to elude detection.

Superintendent Kuhn of the asylum is out of the city, and his assistant declines to give any information about Crane or his manner of escape. It was admitted, however, that Crane was gone.

It is said that Crane has a grievance against several persons in Kansas City, who testified against him, and assisted in prosecuting him for the murder of his wife. There is some apprehension that he will endeavor to do these persons bodily harm.


John M. Crane shot and killed his wife, Henrietta Crane, on the evening of July 8, 1905, at her home, 1101 Bales avenue. Mrs. Crane, from whom her husband had been separated for some time, was sitting on the front porch when Crane came up the walk.

When she saw him coming, Mrs. Crane ran into the house. Crane followed. After a struggle in the hall Mrs. Crane ran across the street. As she ran, Crane fired several times, three of the shots taking effect. The woman fell dead in a neighbor's dooryard.

Crane was tried for the crime, and in spite of his plea for insanity was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Five days before the sentence of death was to be carried out, Governor Folk granted a reprieve of thirty days in order that a commission might examine into the sanity of the man. The reprieve was given upon the request of deputy prosecutors. A number of physicians had examined Crane, and all said he was insane. Several said he was hopelessly demented and could live but a short time.

On May 5, 1907, after having been in the jail hospital for seven months, Crane was pronounced insane by a commission and was taken to the state asylum at St. Joseph.

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December 26, 1908



That, and a Trip to Church With a
Policeman as Guard, Filled the
Day for the Woman Who
Shot Her Husband.

Flowers from fellow employes at a printing plant, where she had worked for some time, greeted Mrs. Rose Peterson when she returned to the county jail yesterday from church. She is charged with killing her husband.

On Thursday Mrs. Peterson asked for permission to to to church and this was granted by Judge R. S. Latshaw of the criminal court. Patrolman John Coughlin took her to 8:30 o'clock mass at St. Patrick's, Eighth and Cherry. She had never missed church a single Christmas in her life.

"And to think that he was in citizen's clothes and not in uniform," said Mrs. Peterson afterwards. "We did not attract a bit of attention and I had been so afraid that the officer would wear a uniform." This bit of consideration seemed the best gift of all to the child wife.

"Since I was 14 I have been at work feeding presses," said Mrs. Peterson. "I married at 16. I can't tell why. Yes, it was young. I am only 19 now. Do you know, over at the police station they measured me -- I'm five feet one and one-half inch in my stocking feet. I weigh 123 pounds. And they measured my arms and my fingers and took finger prints and everything. Did you get my picture out of the rogues' gallery for the paper? Because the pictures they printed of me looked awful. I saw Aggie Myers's picture there."


"This morning they left the doors open and I walked around to see the gallows where they hanged Bud Taylor. Maybe I'll leave my tracks on that scaffold some time," she smiled.

"You want to know why I got married at 16? I don't know myself. We separated after a year. It will be three years next march since we were married. After the wedding I kept right on feeding the presses. My husband kept bothering me and for a long time I have been carrying a revolver." Her husband slapped her and she shot him.

"Did we run away to get married?" repeated the blue-eyed Irish girl, who seems hardly over 17. "Really, I can't remember." Which was only another way of saying that she did not want to remember.


"If I ever get out of here I'll never get married again, never, never. A woman is a man's slave after she is married. I don't believe in marriage. It hurts me to see my sister growing up and to think that she may fall in love with someone. Oh, I am going to talk her out of it if I can. There is nothing in marriage."

While Mrs. Peterson was talking, Mrs. James Sharp, one of the band of fanatics and a cellmate, walked across the room and stood behind the girl's chair.

"Ask Mrs. Sharp," was suggested.

"Do you believe in marriage?" the childwife asked.

"Yes, of course I do," said Mrs. Sharp, as she stroked the girl's brown hair. "Of course I do," s he repeated with a smile that flashed for a moment, a memory of her former attractiveness. Mrs. Sharp is a native Missourian.

"Last Christmas I was in Minnesota," added the elder woman quietly, with a touch of reminiscence in her tone.

Mrs. Peterson had stopped talking. Her brother and sister had come to see the little member of Press Assistant's Union No 20, who wants to be a linotype operator if she gains her liberty.

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December 11, 1908


But Sharp Doesn't Want to Be Hung
Before He Can Set His
Followers Right.

"Oh, it's terrible, terrible," James Sharp repeated over and over between questions asked of him by the police officers on the way to the city. Inspector Charles Ryan asked Sharp to tell why h e had attempted to overpower the police. "Well, brother, it was the Lord's will. The Spirit led me," he answered.

"Are you in the habit of carrying guns when you are preaching?"

"Ever since we fought the police in Canada, we have had guns. You know, we have been persecuted all over the country, and we decided that we would not stand for it any more. I believed it was the spirit moving me or a revelation. When the Humane officer came in he brought it out of me, and I thought I was doing right. Then the spirit led me to take the followers of the faith and go and preach. An officer came out and I was arguing with him. He was about convinced that we were right. If that tall young man had not pointed that pistol at me, there would not have been anyone killed. You know, it is the spirit that moves you, the flesh can't do anything."

"Honestly, captain, I believed that we were doing right and that it was God's will. When the bullets commenced to hit me then I had a revelation. The Lord was either not with us or was on a vacation. Now I know my faith was wrong, that I was mistaken. I am glad to be back and want to stand for anything that God wills. If I was in the wrong, then I should be punished for it.


"Do you know what is going to happen to you for killing those officers, Sharp?" he was asked.

"No, but I suppose they will hang me or send me to the penitentiary for life. The people must feel pretty hard against me, and I don't believe you will get me to jail if they see me, but it is God's will.

"I would like to see my wife and tell her to give up the fiath, for she won't believe I want her to unless I tell her. Then I want to live long enought to write a letter to my followers explaining my failure and asking them to live right and be law-abiding people. If the police put them in jail they should go peaceably. It is hard on those poor innocent police officers who were drawn into that terrible fight, without knowing what it was about.


"I had a nice farm in Oklahoma and was doing well when I believed I was called. Now I have no money, my children have left me and I have murdered innocent men. I can hardly believe I have any faith. I don't even believe in the Bible now."

Sharp said he taught his followers that he was Adam, who was David, or Jesus Christ. "But I guess the Lord is against me," he said.

Before leaving Olathe Sharp presented to Sheriff J. S. Steed with the knife he carried, bu the Kansas City officers brought it with them. They will use it as evidence against Sharp in the trial for attempting to kill Sergeant Patrick Clark. The handle of the knife had been broken by a bullet hitting it while he was fighting in the middle of the street.

Sharp was shot twice and his clothing was struck three times by bullets. He received a flesh wound along the edge of the palm of the left hand and the three fingers on his right hand were badly cut by a ball. A hole was mde through the brim of his stiff hat and a ball passed through the lapel of his overcoat. Another bullet went t hrough the right leg of his trousers. Sharp said he did not know he wsa shot until he walked away from the fight.


Just before reaching police headquarters Sharp told the police that when he got his religion at first people said he was crazy, and added: "They must have been right or I have two or three follies in my head I will have to get out."

Leaving the street car the religious fanatic asked the officers to proteect him and not let a mob hang him before he can write an open letter to his followers. He said he did not care what they did with him then. "I want to make restitution," Sharp said. "If those officers were poor and had families I want them to have my money and divide it between them."

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April 1, 1908


Unless He Grants Biles Another Re-
spite He'll Be Hanged Friday.

JEFFERSON CITY, March 31 (Special.). -- The supreme court today denied a rehearing of the murder case of A. C. Biles, alias Frank Daly, of Kansas City, under sentence to be hanged in St. Louis on June 3, to which date Governor Folk yesterday respited the condemned man. Biles was convicted of the murder of Thomas Harvey for the purpose of robbery.

Governor Folk, having on yesterday granted respite to Biles, and the supreme court having today denied a motion of Biles's counsel for a rehearing of the case, it developes that Governor Folk acted without jurisdiction yesterday in granting respite before the decision of the supreme court, and unless the governor again grants a stay of execution Biles must be hanged on April 3, the date fixed by the supreme court.

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February 14, 1908


Leavenworth Judge Discovers Pec-
uliar Defect in Kansas Law.

LEAVENWORTH, Kas., Feb. 13 -- (Special.) The new Kansas law, abolishing capitol punisment, leaves a loop-hole which was brought to light today in Leavenworth for probably the first time. Under the old law, murder in the first degree was an unbailable crime. The new law makes no provision as to bail, and lawyers contend that murder in the first degree is, consequently, a bailable crime. Judge Flynn of the city court here today bound over Victor Jacquot, charged with killing R. J. Mentier, in the sum of $50,000. Attorneys for the defense argued that the bail was excessive and prohibitive, but the judge refused to diminish it and in giving his reason, said:

"Just because a lot of wild legislators, scrambling around in an effort to please long-haired executives, overlook an important point like that is no reason why to a murderer, such as is shown in the evidence, I should allow a light bail."

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August 23, 1907


Crenshaw's Pet Was Convicted of Bit-
ing the Neighborhood Boys.

John Crenshaw, 1611 Norton avenue, had a dog. Willie Haas, 1327 Norton avenue, passed the Crenshaw home Wednesday. The dog bit him severely on the leg. Chreshaw did not appear in court yesterday, but his wife did.

"Yes," she admitted, "our dog bit this boy, and it has bitten other boys, too, I believe."

"You are very frank about it," said Judge Kyle, "most people try to protect their dogs, right or wrong. It is the order of this court thatyour dog be taken from whence it came and shot in the head until it is dead, dead, dead."

"When may I expect the execution?" asked the woman.

"Between sunup and sundown today," said the court, seriously.

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April 9, 1907

They Will Escape The Gallows

Death Sentences of Myers and Hottman Commuted by Governor Folk.





No Arrangements Yet Made to Send
the Prisoners to Jefferson City to
Begin Serving Their Terms --
Further Story of the Murder
May Yet Be Told.

Governor Folk yesterday commuted the sentences of Mrs. Aggie Myers and Frank Hottman to life imprisonment in the Jefferson City penitentiary. While no formal order was filed with the secretary of state for Hottman's commutation yesterday, the governor said he would do so this morning. The order for the commutation of Mrs. Myers' sentence was very brief, the state's executive explaining his action in the following language:

Believing that the benefit to the public morals of the commonwealth will be greater in confining this woman to the penitentiary for life in place of hanging her by the neck until dead, I therefore commute the sentence of the said Maggie Myers, alias Aggie Myers, from death to imprisonment in the state penitentiary as long as her life shall last.

Aggie Myers and Frank Hottman were tried and convicted of murdering Clarence Myers, husband of the former, at his home in the city two years ago. It was one of the most cold-blooded killings ever recorded in Kansas City. In the trial of Mrs. Myers it was proved that she planned the murder of her husband and helped to cut his throaat during his struggle with Hottman in his own home the night of the tragedy. Hottman made a full confession, pleaded guilty and testified against Mrs. Myers. She stood trial, was convicted and sentenced to hang along with Hottman. The execution of the death sentence has been stayed from time to time on account of legal proceedings which have been filed by her attorneys. The case was carried from the local county court to the state supreme court, the later sustaining the decision of the lower tribunal, and the last delay was obtained by the filing of an appeal to the supreme court of the United States. Mrs. Myers and Hottman were to have been hanged tomorrow and the death watch has been maintained over Hottman for the past several days.


When Frank Hottman was seen in the death cell at the county jail last night and told of the governor's act in commuting his and Mrs. Myers' sentence to life imprisonment, he made no reply, but stood with his hands in his pockets and gazed at the floor.

"Well, Frank, don't the news make you feel good?" he was asked.

"I haven't got anything to say."

"You are not sorry the governor commuted your sentence?"

"No, I am glad that he did that and I feel grateful to him, but it don't make me happy. I cannot talk to you about my case until I see my lawyer. He was here to see me yesterday, but I haven't seen him since. As a matter of fact, I made up my mind to accept any old fate that might come my way."

"Now that it is all over, your sentence commuted to life imprisonment, what about your confession, did you sear to the truth?" Hottman was asked.

"I don't want to answer you."

"Well, you know whether or not you told the truth when you said Mrs. Myers planned the murder of her husband and persuaded you to help her in the commission of the crime?"


"I don't want to talk to you about that now. After I see my lawyer I will give you a story."

"Is there any question about the truthfulness of your statement made to the prosecuting attorney?"

"Now, you musn't get mad at me for not answering your question, but I have been instructed not to talk."

"Will you make another confession before being taken to the penitentiary?"

"I don't know. I can't answer you."

"You don't deny now that you and Mrs. Myers killed Clarence, do you?"

"You musn't ask me any more questions, for I will not answer you until I have talked to my lawyer."

Hottman is still in a very despondent state of mind. He seemed to feel good over the fact that the governor commuted his sentence, yet he showed no particular outward signs of gratification. He doesn't appear to hold out any hope for the future. Had he been informed that the governor refused to interfere in his case and that the death sentence would be carried out Wednesday, the chances are that he would have felt just as he did when told his sentence had been commuted. He appears to have lost all interest in life, and it is possible that he will tell a new story about the murder of young Myers before he is taken to Jefferson City to begin his sentence of life servitude.


It was Sheriff William Thomason, of Clay county, who first informed Mrs. Myers of the governor's action in commuting her sentence to life imprisonment. She is in the county jail at Liberty. She accepted the tidings with little concern.

"I am very grateful to the governor for doing what he did," were her words to Sheriff Thomason.

She did not appear the least bit excited and received the news as though it was nothing more than she had expected. Sheriff Tomason stated that he did not know just when he would take Mrs. Myers to the penitentiary, but said that he would transfer her just as soon as possible.

The appeal of the case of Mrs. Myers to the supreme court of the United States will now be dismissed by her attorneys. In a message to the secretary of state relative to the action of commuting the sentences Governor Folk states that he believes the public morals will be better conserved by commuting the sentence of Mrs. Myers of life imprisonment than by hanging her. In the case of her accomplice, Frank Hottman, he said, similar facts to those in the Myers case exist and for that reason he also commuted Hottman's sentence to life imprisonment.

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March 18, 1907


Then He Gives His Impression of the
Missouri Legislature

"So they are going to call an extra session!" said the proprietor of the First ward, yesterday. "If I had my way I would put forth one billand that wou ld be to abolish the legislature for ten years. Then I would make the next legislature do nothing but repeal laws. Once in ten years is enough.

"They did pretty well this time," continued Mr. Pendergast. "They abolished capital punisment, by leaving it to the jury to decide, and anybody knows there is always one man in twelve who will stop a verdict if he can. This one law will make Missouri a lynching state. Anybody knows what will happen as soon as the people read the juries are refusing to hang men who assault women.

"In its ignorance the legislature tried to disfranchise 70 per cent of the voters in my ward, and 40 percent of the voters in the entire city. One of the senators, whose name is not worth mentioning, came out with a bill to require a primary election, those to vote at it being the legally registered voters. That would mean that next spring only those would be allowed to vote in Kansas City at the same place they lived when they registered last fall. That was brilliant. Mike Casey killed that bill and I am going to send him to the senate next time for that. We need him there."

Telling how the experts had tried to jockey a primary bill through the legislature Alderman Pendergast said that he and Election Commissioner Lowe had drafted one, but that it had been turned down.

"They would not take the bill two sensible, common people drafted," said the boss of the river wards. "What they wanted was a bill that the lawyers could draw up and all of them fight over. They had seven lawyers draw up the bill and all seven had different views. I could hire forty-five lawyers to interpret Cooper's bill, and all of them would have different opinions. If it was not for that, how could the lawyers make a living? We fixed the bill, anyhow."

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January 8, 1907


Delay of Ninety Days Follows Federal
Appeal for Mrs. Myers

The officers of the county jail received a telegram soon after 8 o'clock last night from the office of Governor Folk, saying that the governor, upon receipt of news from the federal court and Kansas City that Judge Phillips had granted a writ of supersedeas in the case of Mrs. Aggie Myers, had granted Frank Hottman a further respite of ninety days.

Governor Folk said to a correspondent of The Journal at Jefferson City that as Hottman is the only witness against Mrs. Myers, he should not be executed till her fate is finally determined.

Night Jailer McGee notified Hottman immediately of the respite. Hottman was in the death cell awaiting execution Thursday. It is the fifth time he has been respited and he is used to it. When the jailer told him of the respite all Hottman said was: "Well, I guess it's all right," and without a show of emotion prepared to go to sleep. He was not removed to the other part of the jail last night, but will be this morning.

Yesterday the attorneys for Aggie Myers filed an appeal to the supreme court of the United States from the decision of Judge Philips, refusing an application for a writ of habeas corpus. The attorneys declared Mrs. Myers is held illegally by the state authorities. She also was to hang Thursday for the murder of her late husband. The mere taking of the appeal acted as an arrest of judgment in the instance of Mrs. Myers, postponing the date of execution till the higher court can pass upon the case.

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