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BEATRICE GORDON MURDER TRIAL

Transcribed by Cindy Logan

 
Fairplay Flume, Friday, January 17, 1908 (page 2)

ANOTHER DENVER MURDER

 
Denver - William Otto Shirey, chief clerk in the sheriff's office for ten years, aged forty five years was shot and instantly killed about 12 o'clock Monday night in his home, 2800 Curtis Street, by Miss Beatrice Gordon, his housekeeper, and for eight years his mistress. Following is the Republican's account of the tragedy:
 
Her voice and body quivering with pain, Miss Gordon confessed the shooting to Chief of police Michael Delaney at 2:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon, after being brought back from Lafayette, Colorado, in an automobile. She claimed it was accidental. For an hour she retained her coolness and composure under the sweating of the chief - then she broke down and told a terrible tale of humiliation and indignities, which she claimed had been heaped upon her by Shirey.
 
Miss Gordon finally slipped limply down in her chair. "What do you want to know?" she demanded. I shot him with his own gun and dropped it on the floor." Then the woman broke down completely.
 
Later she told her whole story to a representative of the Republican. She lay during the recital, on a cot in the matron's quarters, her body quivering with shame and horror, alternately clutching a red worsted shawl with shaking, toil-hardened hands, hardened in the service of the man she killed. Her body quivered and shook, her eyes stared wide at the scenes she described, her voice was low, tense, and monotonously despairing.
 
"I shot him with his own gun and dropped it on the floor. I was kneeling to him, begging him to treat me better or let me go away from him forever and forget. But he kneeled beside me, a little to the rear, and would not let me go. He wanted me to stay with him the rest of the night. But I said I could stand no more; was broken hearted and did not want to live. He handed me a gun, I think from his pocket and said, "Take this gun, then you damned fool, and go kill yourself, but don't do it in my house." I took it and raised it toward my breast to shoot myself, but I had been waiting for him so long on the porch that I was cold and my hand trembled. The gun went off and shot him. I did not mean to kill him. I often told him I would never harm a hair of his head, because I did not want to disgrace his children, whom I loved. For myself I did not care what became of me. I wish to God that it had been me that was killed - I wish that it had been me," and the agonizing words, coming between gasp and sobs, ceased as she hid her flushed and convulsed face in the pillow.
 
But in spite of the confession there are still elements of mystery in the story which the police have not yet unraveled.
 

 
 
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Aspen Democrat, Friday, January 17, 1908 (page 1)
ADMITS SHE SHOT HER FORMER LOVER
 
She Declares She Was Completely
Under the Influence of Shirey
 
Denver, January 16, 1908 - Confronted with the charge of murder in the first degree for shooting William O. Shirey, Mrs. Beatrice Gordon has already out-lined her plan of defense.
 
Before being removed from the city to the county jail this morning, the woman who admits she fired the shot that killed her former lover, made a remarkable statement. She declared that she was so completely under the influence of Shirey that she could not resist doing anything he told her to do. For that reason she says, when Shirey handed her his revolver and told her to shoot herself, she felt compelled to pull the trigger even to take her own life. This she says will be her defense when placed on trial. Miss Gordon says she is not afraid of the result of the trial and expects an acquittal.
 
The self-confessed slayer was taken from the city jail this morning and put in the county jail where she was locked in a cell by herself. An information charging her with murder in the first degree as filed in the West Side court this afternoon. If the woman is found guilty of first degree murder the jury has a right to say whether the penalty shall be death or life imprisonment.
 
 
 
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Aspen Democrat, Sunday, January 19, 1908 (page 1)
BROKEN UNDER NERVOUS STRAIN
 
She Was Served With An Information Charging Her With Killing William Shire
 
 
 Denver, January 18, 1908 - Broken at last under the nervous strain of the five terrible days following the grave tragedy Monday, Beatrice Gordon fell in a dead faint as she was leaving the West Side court room this morning.
 
The woman, who is soon to be on trial for her life for killing William Shirey, mustered the last reserves of her strength when she went before Judge Whitford today; it was the last effort of hers to gather together her overtaxed nerves. She confronted her judge today with the same confident air which has characterized her actions since she first was brought before the court and demanded more time in which to plead. There was no sign of weakness except perhaps the appearance of a little added pallor and a more pathetic droop to the corners of her mouth. Then came the climax this morning. She was given a copy of the information against her today.
 
 
 
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Aspen Democrat, Sunday, January 26, 1908 (page 1)

PLEADED NOT GUILTY

Denver, January 25, 1908 - Beatrice Gordon was arraigned before Judge Whitford this morning in the West Side Court and pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of murdering William
O. Shirey the night of January 13, 1908.
 
The court room was crowed with spectators, most of them women, and when she was led to jail she was closely followed by the curious crowd.
 
 
 
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Aspen Democrat, Tuesday, February 11, 1908 (page 1)

LEGAL BATTLE HAS BEGUN

Denver, February 10, 1908 - The deepest of secrecy on both sides, the defense and prosecution, prevails in the West Side court room where the great legal battle for the life and future liberty of Beatrice Gordon began this morning.
 
Jurors were examined as to their fitness to try the case with the utmost care and prudence, but so that no inkling of the real plans of either side should become known. It will be a battle of court room giants and a war of legal gladiators.
 
But even with all the care, all the caution, all the prudence, it leaked out that Miss Gordon would have to face the charge of cold-blooded murder in the most deliberate form.
That in spite of the fact that she is a woman no effort will be spared to send her to the gallows.
 
Arrayed against her is all the machinery of the state and the entire force of the district attorney's office, even District Attorney Stidger himself who will personally conduct the case, and not the slightest hope was given to the defendant this morning that her sex would cut the smallest figure in defending the case.
 
On her side, Miss Gordon's family procured the services of Senator Chas Ward, reckoned as one of the great criminal lawyers of the state and the west. Mr. Ward will be backed by all of the assistants in his Boulder office and even with all of his affability he is prepared to fight the battle of his life for Miss Gordon.
 
The unwritten law will figure in the case; this fact was revealed today in the questions in the questions propounded to jurors and this is certainly a case in which the unwritten law, if there is such a thing, should figure to a great extent.
 
 
 
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Aspen Democrat, Saturday, February 15, 1908 (page 1)

DEFENSE THEORY OF ACCIDENTAL KILLING

Denver, February 14, 1908 - The defense sticks to its theory of accidental shooting while Miss Beatrice Gordon was attempting to kill herself with a revolver which Shirey had handed her with the remark "Here, take this and blow your fool head off, but don't do it here.
 
The defense contends that Shirey after he handed the woman this revolver became afraid of the consequences, and in attempting to recover it the gun was discharged and the man, not the woman was killed.
 
The prosecution, with George Stidger district attorney, in charge, will attempt to prove that William O. Shirey was the victim of deliberate murder at the hands of Beatrice Gordon, as charged in the indictment. Also that the shot was fired during a tilt over the fact that Miss Gordon believed she had been thrown over by Shirey for another woman. That the killing was carefully planned and carefully executed.
 
The state introduced witness to prove the fact of killing, the range of the bullet and the diagram of the room in which the shooting took place.
 
The defense cross-examined these witnesses in an effort to show that the bullet could have passed through Shirey's body in the manner it did while he was on his feet and not crouching on the floor as the state claims.
 
A small riot occurred at the public entrance to the West Side court room this afternoon when the doors were opened. Over on thousand persons besieged the entrance. One woman's skirt was torn from her body, and others had their waists disarranged, hats torn and veils snatched from their heads. Bailiffs and deputy sheriffs fought the crowd back with clenched fists. Many of the woman had to be thrown back to the platform leading to the doors. In the crowd were 300 woman and all had been standing there for hour waiting to get into the trial and secure a good seat: 750 persons were admitted to the court room and then the doors were locked.
 
 
 
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Aspen Democrat, Sunday, February 16, 1908 (page 1)
ACQUITTAL WILL SURELY COME
 
The State Has Failed
to Prove the
Charge of Murder Against Beatrice Gordon
 
Denver, February 15, 1908 - In the case of the people against Miss Beatrice Gordon for the murder of William O. Shirey the state has proved that Beatrice Gordon killed William Shirey; that the deed was done about midnight; that the revolver belonged to the new housekeeper; that Miss Gordon had this revolver with her all during the night of the killing; that after the shooting she fled and went to Lafayette; that she made different statements regarding the shooting.
 
The state has failed to prove that the gun was carried with any thought of murder; that Miss Gordon ever made any threats against Shirey or ever used the oft-quote remark; "this gun is a good thing to kill dogs with," that Miss Gordon was concealed behind the bed when Shirey came home; that there was any element of first degree murder in the act, or that the woman had anything but the greatest love for the man.
 
The state's whole case is based on a bottle of beer which it is claimed Shirey brought to his home on the night he was killed. The state has attempted to prove Shirey reached his room, took the bottle of beer into the parlor, sat down in a chair to drink it, was confronted by Miss Gordon who was standing behind the bed; that Shirey jumped behind the chair for safety; the shot was fired, and he fell dead. On this the state rests its hope.
 
Court attachers and spectators say it failed completely to prove the charge and that acquittal will surely come.
 
Miss Gordon this afternoon on the stand detailed all the incidents leading up to the tragedy; how she had gone once more to Shirey's house after leaving him down town, driven there by his threats that if she didn't he would have no more to do with her heard the woman tell of her last appeal to the dead man, how she pleaded with him on her knees, told him all she had suffered, of her condition, begged him because she had worn herself out in his behalf, to take care of her oven that she was old woman, though but 32 years of age; her heart pierced by the awful wish of the man she loved she only asked for death, pleaded for the gun which was handed her with the brutal remark, "here take this gun and blow your fool head off, but don't do it here," Driven to end her life she placed it to her head, when Shirey becoming frightened, tried to wrest it from her, it was discharged and he fell dead. Then the wild fight in the night, the trip to Lafayette, the arrest and the return.
 
 
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