JOHN L. TAYLOR MURDER TRIAL
Transcribed by Cindy Logan
Times, Sunday, July 28, 1907 (Page 1)
INQUEST IS COMPLETED
CORONER'S JURY IN SESSION FOR MANY HOURS
Sensational Letters Given to Jury But Not
The jury after being out for eight hours, finally returned a
One of the largest crowds ever in
attendance in local courts was present yesterday afternoon at the city hall,
where the coroner's inquest into the death of Mrs. J. L Taylor was in
District Attorney Gentry arrived in the
city in time to take charge of the case in behalf of the relatives of Mrs.
Before proceeding with the inquest the
district attorney asked Judge Sanders, sitting as a justice of the peace,
for leave to amend the complaint filed against John L. Taylor charging him
with assault so as to read "did then and there unlawfully and with malice
aforethought kill and murder the aforesaid Lillie May Taylor." The motion
The inquest proper then began, the
district attorney explaining to the jurors and spectators, at the request of
the deputy coroner, that the proceeding was simply a coroner's inquest and
that there was no defendant present and in there would be no defense as no
one was on trial
The first witness was J. W. Allen,
superintendent of the mines at Coal Basin. He told his story much more
fully than when first examined. With the exception of Taylor he was the
first one to reach the scene after the shooting. He says he asked how it
happened and Taylor said the girl had been out target shooting and
accidentally shot herself. Later Allen testified that he had heard the
target shooting but that it was some time before the shot which ended Mrs.
Taylor's life. he testified that he was attracted to Taylor;s house both by
the sounds of the shot and hearing some one calling as if in distress when
he first began his investigation of the shooting.
Mrs. Dora Palmer of Carbondale, became
acquainted with the Taylor's last winter. She saw Taylor in the latter part
of last May when he was on his way to Aspen from Coal Basin. he told her he
had sent his wife a ticket but when hadn't come to him and he believed there
was something wrong if came to Aspen and found her with another man he
would kill them both. This statement was made to Mrs. Palmer in the
presence of her two little girls and a neighbor. He also told her that Mrs.
Taylor and her relatives were not on speaking terms.
W. N. Van Winkle, of Restone, roadmaster
for the Crystal River Railroad company, told of the trip to Coal Basin with
the coroner and of the examination of witnesses there. he conferred with
the coroner and told him that he did not believe and inquest was necessary.
Daily Times, Wednesday, July 31, 1907 (page 1)
ONE MORE DAY MAY
End Preliminary Trial of John L. Taylor
Prosecution Rests and Defense Should
The second day's session of the preliminary trial of John
L. Taylor, charged with the murder of his decease wife, began yesterday
morning at 10 o'clock.
Mr. and Mrs. Gus Thoberg were called in
succession and repeated the testimony given by them at the coroner's
Judge Rogers of the County Court
corroborated the testimony previously given relating to the visit of Mrs.
Taylor and Rose McMahon to his office having Mr. Taylor put under peace
Sheriff James Begley told again he knew
about the case. He warned his wife not to have anything to do with the
Taylors as he did not want to be mixed up in their troubles.
Robert Hull repeated his evidence as given
to the coroner's jury, laying stress on the fact that when Mrs. Taylor left
Aspen for Coal Basin she had stated to the Hulls that she was going to her
death bed. He added that another person whom he believed to be George
Thomas, had heard the young wife make this statement.
The prosecution here rested it's case.
After a brief argument Judge Rucker succeeded in having his client sworn for
the purpose of identifying certain handwritings, with the understanding that
he might be recalled later. The followed a tedious hour while the defendant
re read a large number of letters and glanced over lengthy statements,
identifying each one. Letters which have caused much comment because they
were apparently lost, were introduced and offered in evidence just before
the noon recess. They are supposed to have been written to Mrs. Taylor by
her husband during March, April and May of this year.
The defendant was again put on the stand
when court convened in the afternoon. He was shown a diary which he stated
he had purchased for his wife about January 1, 1907.
The district attorney then began a cross
examination which lasted over an hour, during which time the defendant was
again asked to identify certain exhibits. Mr. Gentry endeavored to learn
just when and where the so called "death statements" and "life sketch" had
been found after the tragedy but was unsuccessful. The defendant stated
that from the time of his marriage he had endeavored to improve his wife's
handwriting; sometimes she wrote much better than at other times when she
took pains she was able to write very nicely and at the same time with much
speed. The witness, also, failed to adhere to one style of penmanship
during the past few years. Occasionally finding it agreeable to demonstrate
his ability at either vertical, back handed or other popular forms of
chirography. Judge Rucker was unable to control his client, who insisted in
replying at wearisome lengths to the more or less, principally more, simple
questions of Mr. Gentry. Altogether, the witness did not fare as well as he
might have done had he obeyed the instructions of his attorney.
Mrs. J. M. Johnson sister of the defendant
proved to be a good witness for the latter. She gave her testimony in a
quiet, friendly manner, as if she bore no malice towards anyone. She
identified letters written to her recently by Mrs. Taylor referring to a
proposed visit to Missouri relatives, the couple intending to come August
15, 1907. She denied the truth of Mrs. Palmer's testimony regarding what
her brother said about being asleep at the time of the shooting.
Mrs. McVail a stanch friend of the
defendant told again of the statement made by Mrs. Taylor last May to the
effect that she would kill herself if her husband did not do it for her.
The witness stated that she had been an intimate friend of the dead woman
and had never heard her speak of Mr. Taylor other than in words of love and
kindness. Judge Rucker endeavored to bring out the fact that the deceased
had been familiar with firearms and Mrs. McVail testified that with small
caliber rifles Mrs. Taylor was an expert shot.
Court the adjourned until 11 o'clock this
Daily Times, Thursday, August 1, 1907 (page 2)
Examination of J. L Taylor Proves
Local Experts Are Called to Identify the
A- Three witness were called by the defense in the preliminary
trial of J. L Taylor, charged with the murder of his wife, when court
convened yesterday morning. They were:
Mrs. H. Koby, Jennie Adair and W.
Houston. The deceased was employed for a time by Mrs. Kobey and Mrs. Adair
and these two witnesses never heard her speak of her husband as if she
feared him or ever bad trouble with him. Houston also knew the couple but
knew of no ill feelings between them at any time.
John L. Taylor was called to the stand in
his own defense but before any questions were asked court took a recess
until 2 o'clock.
The Afternoon Session:
Taylor then told of his marriage in Salt
Lake, his warning his bride that she must "cut out" her relatives if she
expected to live with him, and his conduct towards her. After he went to
Coal Basin last March his wife wrote to him every other day and he replied
at irregular intervals. He instructed her to sell most of their household
furniture and the horse and go to Coal Basin. He sent her a railroad ticket
and had it extended, but she remained in Aspen.
He sent transportation again and for some
reason she did not leave. About this time, becoming angered, the defendant
wrote to his wife, and this letter, mailed May 18, 1907 was the last time he
ever wrote her she hadn't treated him right, that he believed something was
in the wind and so then informing her that she could go her way and he would
go his. he left for Aspen May 28, not to see his wife, but to get certain
personal effects. he arrived about 11 p. m. and went to his former home at
940 West Hopkins Street, which he found unprohibited. Proceeding up town he
had two or three drinks and became much excited after realizing that his
wife had done as he requested and gone her way." without leaving her address
behind. He met Officer Murphy, Will Thomas and "Shad" Sheeban, called on
local newspaper editors and had conversations with them all, but could not
say whether or not he had made the statements alleged by the witness.
The following morning he learned where his
wife was working and called on her immediately. He had concluded to talk to
his wife like a man, he said, and very politely he informed her that he was
going to get a divorce. She replied that if such was his intention, she
would not live three days. Her described the details, as previously
testified to, leading up to the threat of his wife on evening at McVail's,
where she threatened to shoot her self. Late that same evening he and his
wife were at McVail's, the defendant yielded to his wife's persuasion and
took a walk with her. They reached the cemetery about 11 p .m. and remained
there until time for the ghosts go walk. They then walked to the race
track. All this time his wife was coaxing him to "make up" and take her
back insisting that she would live not longer than three or four days in the
event of his refusal. In this trying state of Mind he finally concluded to
oblige her, saying at the same time that he would never have the same lover
They left on the evening of Decoration Day
for Coal Basin and from that time to the day of his wife's death he was
always most king to her. Mrs. Taylor however, began boarding and often
expressed a desire to come back to Aspen to send to the happy hunting
grounds certain persons who had done her much harm. On the 18th of July the
defendant was awakened at 9:00 a. m. by his wife. Some boys with smokeless
cartridges wanted to borrow his rifle and he got up and fired a few shots to
see if the weapon was suitable for that style of cartilage. Three revolvers
were in the house at the time, two "thirty-eights" and one "forty five."
His wife challenged him to fire at targets and they took two of the
revolvers and went up back of the revolvers and went back of the house a
short distance and fired at a target. On returning, they fired several
shots from the back door and then the defendant put the empty revolver in a
baby buggy. He again fell asleep and was not awakened until between 1 and 2
o'clock in the afternoon. He said to his wife "I want to be shaved this
morning, old woman." and she dutifully went into the pantry to procure his
shaving outfit. The time check episode was the declared which has already
been printed several times.
While he was still searching for the
missing check his wife left the house and he immediately heard the shot.
Mr. Allen soon reached the scene and as Taylor started to lift his wife's
body, he saw the revolver lying under her left side. Blood was gushing from
her mouth and ears.
He had never heard of the letters written
to Mrs. Brew at Buena Vista and his wife never been compelled to "do
nothing." He first learned some time after their child was born and she
told him the details voluntarily. He kissed her and proceeded to treat her
better than ever, however some time last June he made up his mind to
separate from his wife and he promised to send her to Missouri on a visit,
intending when she was absent to seek new place some where
-------------where she could not fined him.
The district attorney then began a long
and vigorous cross examination which was far from being completed when court
took a recess. he took the defendant over the ground from the time of his
marriage until he was arrested recently. The most important admission,
probably, which he obtained from the witness was that at one time in either
June or July Taylor contemplated taking his wife before a lawyer or notary
and have her make a statement which, if she fulfilled her determination to
commit suicide, would clear him. It will remembered by those being in the
trial that an alleged death statement, which the defendant swears he knows
nothing about is what the defense is said to be relying upon to free Mr.
Taylor. The witness found it impossible to answer a question briefly and
his attorney and even the court requested him repeatedly to answer the
district attorney properly.
The witness stated that when he left Coal
Basin for Aspen last May he had concluded that he was "done with her
forever," but after arriving her he had it in his heart to kill his wife if
he found her with another man. The reason he stayed at the cemetery so long
with his wife the night he took the walk with her, was because they had so
much to talk about. he talked like a gentlemen to her "because it seemed to
hurt even more" and in a kind way told her that she had been untrue to him
and that he could never live with her again. he denied the story told by
Mrs. Galligan. He stated that he never drew a gun on his wife at any time"
if I ever draw a gun it will smoke." He did not shoot inside the house the
day before the baby was born. He did not approve of his wife associating
with her relatives or her neighbors, he did not consider them "appropriate"
company. While in Coal Basin he received anonymous letters in various
handwritings, which he believed were written by the Hulls and Thobergs,
warning him that his wife was not living properly.
A recess was then taken until 9 o'clock
this morning. The letters and statements offered in evidence are being care
Daily Times, August 4, 1907 (page 2)
TAYLOR IS BOUND OVER
Remanded to the Custody of the Coroner
Decision of Justice Sanders Meets With
The preliminary trial of John L. Taylor, charged with having murdered
his wife at Coal Basin July 19, 1907, which has been in progress since last
Monday, was completed at 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon. The fact was
generally known that the attorneys would make their closing arguments,
during which Judge Rucker was expected to read certain documents though to
be very sensational, and resulted in a crowded court room.
Those morbidly inclined who expected to
listen to several hours of salacious evidence when the counsel for the
defense was arguing, were, for the most part disappointed.
Judge Rucker was forced to open the
proceedings, the district attorney simply asking the court that the
defendant be held to the next term of the district court. The defense
relied on the exhibits of letters and the statement to The Times to prove
that Mrs. Taylor committed suicide while insane. The pencil sketch, alleged
by the defense to have been written by the deceased, who then carefully
copied it with pen and ink and called it a "Death" statement, was ruled out,
the court remarking that it had not been sufficiently identified.
The defendant attorney began by taking up
Mrs. Taylor's letters one by one and reading them aloud, occasionally
omitting a sentence which he did not want the public to hear, and
endeavoring to show that the couple were on the best of terms. The several
letters were of a pathetic tenor, indicating that the woman loved her
husband with her whole heart, or , as the attorney said, "just such letters
as a loving wife would write to an affectionate husband." They were written
in March, April, May, June and July. Some of Taylor's letters were also
read, most of the showing that he missed his missed his wife and wanted her
to go to him at Coal Basin as soon as possible. In some of them he found
considerable fault with the young woman for the manner in which she sold the
house hold furniture, probably expecting her to have the ability in that
line of an experienced business man. The statement to The Times was then
taken up, but only a small part of the fifty two pages was read. This
document was described by Judge Rucker as the most heart rending letter he
had ever heard of, one with which Evelyn Nesbit Thaw's world famous
confession could not be compared. The statement began with the terrible
story of the girl's ruin at the tender age of 11 years at the hands to the
notorious Nick Egan and close with threats to come to Aspen and kill those
responsible for her ruin and for the loss of her husband's love.
The attorney was careful to state that he
did not for a moment wish to convey the impression that he believed the
whole document was made up of truthful statements; who considered it the
imaginings of a crazy brain and certainly no normal mind ever composed such
dreadful and extraordinary letter. He closed by asking the court to
discharge his client; stating that there had been no direct evidence
introduced at anytime, nothing but suspicion and the testimony of people
mentioned in the dying statement. Judge Rucker spoke for an hour and a
half, omitting not a detail which might aid in freeing the defendant. His
address was considered remarkable.
District Attorney Gentry replied briefly.
He called attention to scope of Mysterious circumstance surrounding the
case; Taylor man threats to kill his child wife; the way he spoke of her
after her body had been laid to rest; his evasive answers on the witness
stand; the possession of letters were all in his favor and the absence of
important documents which were otherwise; the defendant's maniacal jealousy
and his cruel and inhuman treatment to the little girl he had promised to
love and honor until death they do part.
Times, Wednesday, December 11, 1907 (page 2)
JUDGE SHUMATE GOES TO GLENWOOD SPRINGS
The Term of Court to Begin Here Early in
January-Taylor case to be Tried Then
Judge Shumate went to Glenwood Springs last night to finish
the term of court there before the holidays, it is possible for him to do
so. There are man cases to be tried and the judge said last night that he
may not complete the business until after the holidays. Judge Shumate open
court here early in January. The John Taylor murder case will be set for
trial then. Taylor is accused of the murder of his wife in Coal Basin last
July and the case is familiar to everyone here. That is the most important
criminal case that will be tried at the coming term.
Daily Times, Friday, January 17, 1908 (page 2)
TAYLOR MURDER TRIAL SCHEDULED FOR TODAY
Almost six months to a day since the commission of the
alleged crime and John L. Taylor will be called up on to stand trial in the
district court for the murder of his wife. The case will be called for
trial in the district for the murder of his wife. The case will be called
for trial in the district court this morning. That element of the public
which seems to delight in sensational cases has been awaiting the trial with
feverish interest, for the Taylor case contains every element calculated to
attract public attention.
One the morning of July 19, 1907 at Coal
Basin, Colorado where the Taylor family had been residing for two months
after their departure from Aspen, Mrs. May Taylor was found dead on the
porch of her home, shot in the mouth, it was reported at that time by her
The coroner at Aspen was notified and at
once went to the scene of the tragedy, and the body of the dead woman
brought back to her former home in Aspen and preparations made for the
burial. In the mean time, rumors to the effect that Mrs. Taylor had not
committed suicide, as was first reported, reached this city from the coal
camp, and as a result the coroner again took up the case to investigate
further. On the afternoon immediately before the funeral, which was held in
this city, two doctors were sent by the coroner to examine the body and
determine if possible whether the wound which caused the death of Mrs.
Taylor was self inflicted or whether as the rumors stated. on arriving at
the house it is said the doctors were denied an examination of the body;
however, the funeral was held as had been previously arranged.
A coroner's jury was at once impaneled and
preparations made to probe the now mysterious affair to the bottom. That
night Taylor was arrested and placed in the city jail, Taylor claming that
his life would be in danger in the charge of Sheriff James Begley at the
county jail, the sheriff's wife being a half-sister of the dead woman.
The investigations of the coroner's jury
was begun July 23, 1907. The body of Mrs. Taylor was exhumed and the wound
thoroughly examined by Surgeons Twining, Guthrie and Judkins, who found that
the bullet which cause death had entered the woman's head through the mouth
and had lodged at the base of her brain. Powder burns were found on the
tongue and in mouth and the throat. They primary cause of the exhuming of
the body was because an ugly rumor had been freely circulated which charged
that the woman had been shot through the back of the head. No point of exit
was disclosed by the post-mortem examination and the dissecting surgeons
gave as their unanimous opinion that death was caused from a bullet fired
through the mouth and which lodged at the base of the brain. The exhibits
at the inquest included a "death statement," claimed to have been written by
Mrs. Taylor previous to her death, which said to be very sensational in
character, but which was not admitted in the evidence. Many Coal Basin and
local witnesses were on the stand during the inquest; relatives and friends
of the dead woman working strenuously to prove that her death was not a case
of suicide. Six witnesses were put on the stand to prove that Taylor had
forced his wife to write letters at different times at the point of a
revolver. Others testified to hearing Taylor threaten to kill his wife.
The threats were made during a visit in this city two month previous to the
alleged murder. The investigation by the coroner's inquest covered a period
of five days and the jury, after eight hours deliberation, returned a
verdict which recommended a further investigation of the case.
July 29, 1907 Taylor's primarily hearing
was commenced District Attorney Gentry having been summoned from his home at
Meeker to take charge. Additional witnesses were summoned. Among the
exhibits at the hearing were a number of letters claimed to have been
written by Mrs. Taylor and which dealt more or less with the marital
happiness and unhappiness of the couple during their residence at Coal Basin
and Aspen. Theses letters, it was claimed by relatives, had not been
written by Mrs. Taylor, but were in the hand writing of John L. Taylor.
Hand writing experts were called and made an examination of the letters.
The experts gave as their opinion that the letters were undoubted written by
Mrs. Taylor, although there was a great similarity in the chirognomy of the
husband and wife,. The voluminous document which contained fifty two pages
closely written, was used in open court and the morbidly inclined were once
more greatly disappointed. The document was examined by the jurors only.
The contents of this so called death statement are said to be very
sensational in character and it was described during the hearing by Judge
Thomas A. Rucker, attorney for defendant, as most heart rending; one with
which the world famous confession of Evelyn Nesbit Thow, when she bared the
innermost secrets of her soul to the jury in the Thaw case, could not be
compared. The statement covers a period of ten years of her life and closed
with the threat to come to Aspen and call to account those responsible for
her husbands love.
Attorney Rucker was unable to control his
client during the cross examination and many times Taylor contradicted his
testimony given at the coroner's inquest.
Taylor's story of the death of his wife
was to the effect that he had arose from bed on the morning of the tragedy
to try some smokeless cartridges in a rifle which two boys wished to borrow
from him and had shot at a target in the back yard a number of times.
During the shooting his wife, who was a skilled revolver shot, challenged
him to a contest with pistols and that he had accepted, both shooting at a
target numerous times after which Taylor went back to bed to get his
customary sleep, having worked night shift in one of the coal mines. He
said his wife appeared in the best spirits that morning and seemed content
with the world. Perhaps thirty minutes after the target shooting Taylor
said he was startled by the report of a revolver in the vicinity of the
front porch of his home and immediately went to where the sound came from
and found his wife shot through the mouth and lying in a pool of blood with
the smoking revolver in her hand. The body, he stated, was taken into the
house and placed on a bed and the coroner notified.
Sheriff James Begley, who made an
investigation of the Taylor house soon after the shooting, stated that he
had found human blood splotches in every room in the house. J. W. Allen a
mine official at Coal Basin, while on the stand, testified that he had heard
two people, apparently a man and boy, talking loudly in the Taylor home just
previous to the shot which ended the life of Mrs. Taylor and that he
surmised a quarrel was in progress.
In his closing argument previous to the
conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Attorney Gentry charged Taylor with
having rammed the barrel of the revolver down the throat of his 105 pound
wife and fired. The hearing ended August 4 and resulted in Taylor being
held to answer by the jury. His bond was placed at $3,000, which he was
unable to furnish. Taylor soon afterward was taken to Glenwood Spring and
placed in the Garfield County jail. he was later returned to Aspen and
confined in the city jail.
Mrs. Taylor was no more that a mere girl,
being but twenty one years of age. She was married to Taylor in 1904 in
Salt Lake City. Taylor is perhaps fifty years of age and is known locally
as an athlete. One child now two and on half years old was born to the
It was common talk by neighbors that their
married life was not always happy and that Taylor had threatened her more
than once. it is said that Taylor one night fired a revolver in the Taylor
home which so frightened Mrs. Taylor that a baby was born prematurely to
her. Taylor is also said to have flourished a revolver and run his wife out
of doors and down the street attired only in a nightdress.
Mrs. Taylor has a number of relatives in
this city who will endeavor to secure the conviction of the accused
husband. Mrs. E. T. Kline mother of Mrs. Taylor, resides at Florence.
Taylor has one sister here, Mrs. Robert
Johnstone, and she has remained more than loyal to him.
The Taylor case has attracted locally and
throughout Colorado and with the conclusion of the trial that will commence
today one of the most mysterious suicides or murders, whichever the trial
will prove the cause of the death of Mrs. Taylor to have been, that has ever
occurred in this section of the state will be cleared. it is thought that
the case will consume at least two weeks. About 100 witnesses will be
called, the greater number of which will testify for the prosecution.
Judge Thomas A. Rucker is the attorney for
the defendant. Prosecuting Attorney J. C. Gentry, of Meeker will be in
attendance; Judge John T. Shumate presiding.
Democrat, Thursday, January 23, 1908 (page 1)
FIFTH DAY OF THE TAYLOR TRIAL
Forty Minutes After the Opening Of The
District Court Yesterday Morning Jury Was Completed
Prosecution And Defense Addressed The Jury
On What They Expected To Show
Allen and William A. Barber Testify For
Thirty minutes after opening of the district court yesterday
morning and the resumption of the Taylor murder trial, the------ was
completed. There was one vacant seat in the box, and was filled by W. W.
Williams, the first talesman examined. The ----- then exercised the right of
-------time. Mike Lynch, the next talesman examined, proved to be
satisfactory and both sides announced themselves as satisfied, and the jury
was sworn in.
The court room was well filled, many of
the persons in attendance however being witnesses. Sheriff Begley was on
hand and ----------- acted as court officer.
At the afternoon session, every seat in
the large court room was taken and there were people standing in the aisles.
The door it was crowded six or eight deep. Close attention was paid and
there were no disturbances from the audience.
Twice during the day Judge Shumate
excluded children under the age of 16 unless they were present as witnesses.
A the afternoon secession Taylor's little 3 year old boy, a son of the dead
woman was present. The little fellow's voice could be heard prattling
merrily then came a lull in the proceedings. He became restless, the session
progressed and was taken out by the woman who was in his charge.
Court opened promptly at 10 o'clock in the
morning. Taylor arrived some time before, and was followed in there after by
his sister, Mrs. ---------
Jurors and the their occupation follows:
Williams, rancher, Snow Mass.
Osgood, rancher, Sopria Creek
Roberts, rancher, Snow Mass
Sterner, dairyman, Alaroon Creek
Odell, miner, Aspen
Gavin, rancher, Woody Creek
T. H. Carter, logger, Aspen
Alex Scott, rancher, Woody Creek
Geo. Harris, carpenter, Aspen
Mike Lynch, freighter, Aspen
The district attorney occupied about
thirty minutes in opening the case. He promised proof of numerous threats by
Taylor that he would kill his wife. On one occasion he would prove she was
seen running several blocks down the street from their home, only partly
dressed and crying that Taylor had threatened to kill her. He said he would
produce a witness who would swear to having seen Taylor come out of the
house at Coal Basin on the day of Mrs. Taylor's death, carrying the body of
his wife which he laid on the porch and straightened out and then return to
the house before calling for help.
Judge Rucker, for the defense, then
addressed the jury. He said ordinarily he would wait until the prosecution
had closed before speaking. On the statement made by the district attorney
he would say that Taylor was guilty, but there were things to be said for
Taylor which he wished to state to the jury before they heard the testimony.
It was true that the woman had once run down the street as described by the
district attorney, but it was not because of any threat made by Taylor. It
was true that Taylor had made certain threats but these threats were that if
he found his wife in bed with another man, he would kill the man and the
woman. Judge Rucker referred to the documents which purport to be a
confession of the dead woman, and promised to introduce them, and would show
that she had long contemplated suicide. He would show from letters that the
two had been happy together, and that she labored under the conviction that
her husband's love had changed; that there was nothing for her to live for,
and that after carrying out plans to kill ten or fifteen people who she
mentioned in theses letters as instrumental in her downfall, she intended to
kill herself... As Judge Rucker was concluding his address the district
attorney objected that counsel was arguing his case, and Judge Rucker,
turning to him said; 'You are sworn to do justice to this defendant as well
as the people" and with a few more words, completed his address.
Charles Moore and Al Wilbur were sworn in
as bailiffs and Judge Shumate very emphatically warned the jury that they
must remain absolutely incommunicado. Court then took a recess until 2
o'clock in the afternoon.
At the afternoon session the taking of
J. W. Allen, of Coal Basin, was sworn as a
witness, but before the district attorney began his examination of Allen,
Judge Rucker made a demand upon Mr. Gentry for the production of Allen's
testimony at the coroner's inquest, which he was informed had been given to
the district attorney by the acting coroner, Justice Sanders. Mr. Gentry
stated that the document hand him by Mr. Sanders was an unsigned and unsworn
statement, which he took to be merely a syllabus of the testimony. He though
he had brought it with him, but could not find it. Judge Rucker stated that
he did not wish to imply that he thought the district attorney was trying to
keep it from him; he only desire it for use in cross examinations.
Judge Shumate ruled that the document was
not necessary as there were other means to ascertain the testimony. Later on
the clerk of the court located the official report of the coroner's inquest
and this was handed to Judge Rucker.
Allen, on being examined, said he was
superintendent for the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company at Coal Basin. He was
sitting in his house, about 160 feet away from Taylor's and across the
street, reading a paper, when he heard a shot fired. Thought it was some
boys shooting with a revolver. Some time later, about five minutes he
thought, he went to the door and then heard cries of distress. he looked up
and down the street, including the porch of the Taylor house, and no one,
and then went around to the back of his own house. There was a trip of cars
on the tram at the mines and he thought someone there might be hurt. Saw
nothing, and on his way back to the front, met Mrs. Dewey, his
mother-in-law, who told him Mrs.Taylor was hurt. He then went to the front
of his house, and saw Taylor standinding in the door of the latters house,
and Mrs. Taylor lying on thepo porch. Taylor called to him to come and
assist. He went up and asked Taylor what had happened, Taylor told him that
she had been target shooting and had accidentally killed herself. Taylor was
standing at her left side, in the doorway, and asked him where the gun was.
They both looked around for it, and Taylor then stooped down and reached
under his wife's body and drew out the gun. There was a step down of from
four to six inches from door to floor of the porch.
Witness did not see exactly where the gun
was lying except that it was on the left side, he did not see it until
Taylor had picked it up and handed it to him. Taylor appeared to be greatly
distressed and excited, told him that they had a little fuss over a pay
check; that he had spoken a little harsh to her, but did not think he had
hurt her feeling so much that she would do what she did. William Barber and
a man named Coon, joined them, and they carried the body into the house and
laid it on the bed. Her mouth was badly torn and she was bleeding from the
He did not notice anything wrong with her
face from the mouth up. The body lay straight on the porch, and the gun lay
somewhere near the middle of the body. When Taylor gave him the gun, which
was a five chamber revolver, he found four loads in it, and one empty shell.
He emptied all the chambers and put the gun on the table in the house.
At this point a revolver was produced and
Taylor admitted it was the gun or one like it. The witness made the same
statement and the weapon was offered for identification. After laying of the
body on the bed the witness with others looked over the house. It looked as
if someone had been hunting around. There were several open boxes of matches
and a can of tooth picks, and a small quality of potatoes and a chunk of
bacon on the floor. Taylor called for saltpeter and ice, which he wanted to
preserve the body. Allen then went to the telegraph office to summon the
On cross examination, Mr. Allen stated he
was a deputy sheriff. Judge Rucker asked if, when the coroner arrived on the
scene, witness told him all about the matter. "I told him all I was asked,"
the witness replied. Attorney Rucker was proceeding on this line of
questioning when the district attorney objected that the inquires were
irrelevant and was sustained by the court.
Referring to witness's statement that he
saw no one when he came out of his own house after hearing the shot Judge
Rucker secured a statement from the witness that while the Taylor porch was
in plain sight and he thought on one was on it might been possible that some
was on it, it might have been possible that someone was lying there and he
might not have noticed it as he thought the cries came from another
direction and he was trying to locate the person who was in distress. he did
not notice whether there was blood on the gun when Taylor handed it to him.
There was considerable blood on the porch, but he noticed in the house
before the body been carried in. Afterward he noticed spots on the floor.
Daily Times, Saturday, January 25, 1908 (page 1)
TAYLOR SAYS BEING DOGGED, HOUNDED
Mrs. Hadden Said Taylor Either Fire Shot
at Her or at Ceiling to Frighten Her and Caused Premature Birth of Child
"I am an honest man and I am proud of my record."
John L. Taylor, on trial in the district
court on a charge of murdering his wife in Coal Basin on July 19, 1907, made
the foregoing statement to a representative of the Times yesterday morning
just after Mrs. Louise Hadden, a sister of the dead woman, had testified
about Taylor's conduct towards his wife.
"I am being hounded and dogged by people
who have taken a grudge against me," Taylor said. "They are trying to put
up a job off the all the way around." Taylor said. My wife and I lived
happily together and I never threatened her life. Her folks did all they
could to cause her to separate from me."
Taylor said that everybody was against
him, but that he would prove his innocence before the trial was concluded.
"They can never prove that I killed her
because I didn't and they can't prove what I did not do."
The prosecution weave its net of
circumstantial evidence closer and closer around Taylor yesterday, but there
has not been any direct evidence submitted that Taylor did the killing. The
prosecution is relying on the threats made by Taylor that he would kill his
wife, of her constantly expressed fear that he would kill and on the
circumstances immediately surrounding the killing. The examinations made by
the three physicians four days after the death of the woman and the
condition of the mouth and the possible ways in which the wound could or
could not be inflicted, are the other points brought out by the state.
The testimony of Dr. W. H. Twining was the
most positive of any given by the physicians. Dr. Twining told of a "V"
shaped break to the two lower front teeth in the dead woman's mouth and he
said that it must have been made by shoving something into the mouth. Dr.
Twining said he did not think it would have been made by the explosion of
the shot in the mouth or by the recoil of the revolver when it was fired.
It was the two lower teeth that were broken and the testimony by Dr. Twining
that the teeth were broken as though something had been pushed into the
mouth is the first evidence submitted by the prosecution in support of the
opening statement of the district attorney that Taylor killed his wife by
forcing the revolver into her mouth and firing the shot.
District Attorney Gentry questioned the
physicians as to the causes which might have made the face of the woman so
black. Several witnesses had testified that the woman's face was very dark
when they ran up to the porch where she was lying just after being shot.
All the physicians agreed that it might be caused by the woman being
strangled. It also may have been caused by other things.
"The teeth could have been broken by the
recoil of the revolver, but in this case I wouldn't think that they were
broken in that way" Dr. Twining testified. "The teeth were broken like
something being forced into the mouth. It is more probable that they were
broken in that way that caused the "V" shape of the break."
As to the examination of the wound in the
woman's mouth, the physicians said it would have bled considerably, but
being in the back part of the mouth it would have required some time for the
mouth to fill and the blood to flow from the mouth to any great extent. The
defense tried to prove by the physicians that the wound in mouth was
inflicted with a revolver held in the left hand, Mrs. Taylor was left
The physicians said there was no way to
determine in which hand the revolver was held if the woman committed
suicide. Dr. Twining said that the greatest laceration in the mouth was on
the left side.
The court room yesterday was just as badly
crowed as on previous days and even more so. There were a greater number of
women present yesterday than any day before. At 3 o'clock yesterday
afternoon the district attorney announced that he had examined all the
witnesses in making up his side of the case in chief, except W. S.
Copeland. Sheriff Begley announced that Mr. Copeland was expected in on the
train at noon yesterday, but that he didn't come. The court took an
adjournment from 3 until 3:30 to see if Mr. Copeland could be found. The
officers had been instructed to bring him into court, but they could not
find him in Denver or on the way home, they said.
While in Denver attending the state
convention of the stockmen, it is said that he was a guest at Albany Hotel.
Sheriff Begley said that Mr. Copeland had been subpoenaed about a month
ago. When he did not appear in court at 3:30 o'clock this morning. Mr.
Gentry announced that if Mr. Copeland did not appear to testify at 10
o'clock this morning he would rest his case. The defense will then begin
the introduction of its testimony.
The first witness on the stand yesterday
morning was Mrs. Louise Hadden, a sister of Mrs. Taylor . My sister told me
that Mr. Taylor had threatened to kill her. She told me that on one
occasion he had either shot at her or shot at the ceiling to frighten her
and that it caused the premature birth of a child."
That was the testimony of Mrs. Louise
Hadden, a sister of Mrs. Taylor on the stand yesterday morning told how she
and the other members of the family object to Lillie May Brew,the sister
marrying Taylor and about refusing to speak to her sister for a long time
after the marriage. She said that Taylor and her sister were married in
November, 1908, and that the sister had been living with her prior to her
marriage to Taylor.
"I didn't see Mrs. Taylor, my sister, to
speak to her, until in October, 1906, almost three years after the
marriage," was Mrs. Hadden's statement to the jury. "She didn't come to my
house until in April, 1907. That was about a month or so before she went
Coal Basin with Taylor.
She was then trying to dispose of her
things to where her husband was at work in Coal Basin. She sold some
furniture and the horse to a Mr. Phillips and she sent him a telegram that
she would dispose of the other and come to him just as soon as she could.
This was in May, gave her the money to pay for the telegram."
It was after this telegram had been
received by Taylor that he wrote to his wife that she could go her way and
would go his. Mrs. Hadden said then that Mrs. Taylor asked her to keep the
baby and that she would go out and work for her own living. Mrs. Hadden
refused and the baby was cared for by Mrs. Johnstone, a sister of Taylor's
while Mrs. Taylor obtained employment as a cook in a private home.
Three or four days after Mrs Taylor
obtained work in a private home Taylor came up from Coal Basin. "Do you
suppose mother will every forgive me for writing those letters:" Mrs.
Taylor is said to have asked Mrs. Hadden. "She doesn't need to blame,
because I was made to write them at the point of a gun."
The letters referred to were the ones in
which Mrs. Taylor accused her mother and sister of forcing her to sell
herself to other men.
"May (meaning Mrs. Taylor) was very much
afraid of her husband," Mrs. Hadden said. "My sister told me that Taylor
would kill her if she ever made up with her folks. "I know he has heard of
me visiting my folks since he has been in Coal Basin and he will kill me
now, my sister said to me just after she had received the last letter from
him. Before she went to Coal Basin with him she seemed to think that if she
went he would kill her. She had a great fear of him for some reason."
Mrs. Hadden said she had three sisters,
Charlotte, May and Rose. May Taylor did not see or speak to May Taylor for
three years after her marriage. "I didn't visit her because I was opposed
to her marrying Taylor," was Mrs. Hadden's excuse.
Judge Rucker asked Mrs. Hadden if she did
not meet May Taylor in Cain's grocery store alone day and say, "Now, you
dirty little bitch, you have married the bulldog and you can stay with
him." She said she did not tell her sister that.
"When Taylor came up from Coal Basin after
my sister she came over to tell me goodbye. She said she did not know where
she was going. That was the last time I ever say her."
THE FIRST TEAR OF THE TRIAL.
As she said this her voice trembled and
tears came into her dyes. But it was only for a moment and then she
continued her testimony. This was the first time any tears had been shed
during the entire proceeding.
"When my sister told me goodbye she said
she didn't know whether she would ever see me again," Mrs. Hadden continued.
Mrs. Hadden then said that she knew Knick
Egan,. In his opening statement to the jury Rucker said that Mrs. Taylor's
mother had forced her to get to Egan's cabin when she was only 11 years old
and that Egan ruined her life. Judge Rucker said that Taylor would testify
that his wife told him that Egan paid her mother $100.
"I did not send my sister to Nick Egan's
cabin," Mrs. Hadden said, in answer to a question by Judge Rucker. "Yes,
Egan did make her and me a present of a watch."
ROSE TYLER KNEW TAYLOR FOR 19 YEARS.
Rose Tyler, who runs a rooming house in
Aspen, testified that she had known Taylor and said that Mrs. Taylor had
visited her at different times. The first time she visited Mrs. Tyler after
her marriage to Taylor was in May, 1907, while Taylor was in Coal Basin.
"After she received a letter from Taylor
telling her to go her say and he would go his, she brought her trunk to my
house and wanted to work for me in a restaurant that I then owned," Mrs.
Tyler testified "She told me she had to get out and make her own living.
She shouted me the letter from Taylor in which he accused her of something,
I . I don't remember what it was. She told me that Taylor was mad because
she didn't dispose of the furniture and things at once, and that now he had
written such a letter she didn't care whether she went to him at all or
JUDGE TOLD HER TAYLOR WAS BLUFFER.
Then Mrs. Tyler testified about a visit
she and Mrs. Taylor made to the office of Judge Rogers of the
county court. Mrs. Taylor a ordering
Taylor under bond that he is not to hurt her of kill her. Rogers told her
should have to wait until Taylor did something before he could put him
under bond him under bond to keep the peace.
"Judge Rogers told us that Taylor was only
a bluffer and that was all," Mrs. Taylor said, we left Judge Roger's officer
while we were going down the steps, Mrs. Taylor did that if she waited Taylor did something
before put under bond to Keep the peace would be too late as he would
killed her by that time.
When he came to town a few days later
and I told her would have to take her trunk away from my home and called up
a transfer company to and had her take the trunk to the home of Mrs.
Mrs. Tyler said she advised Mrs. Taylor to
leave her husband to get a divorce and leave town. She was badly frightened
all the time and was constantly threatening she said.
"Mrs. Taylor told Judge Rucker that she
didn't think Mr. Taylor would shoot her, but that latter we left the
judge's office me that she was afraid he would shoot her."
BARBER SAW FINGER PRINTS ON WALL.
William Barber was placed on the stand
again and told about there were some hand prints or finger prints on the
wall in the Taylor home he saw after the tragedy. He did know when they
were made, out he said the print of a small hand on the wall just as if had
been dragged along. It was make with fingers.
Daily Times, Sunday, January 26, 1908 (page 1)
'THEN I WILL KILL MYSELF" SAID WIFE"
Testimony That Mrs. Taylor Made Threats To
Take Her Own Life.
Mrs. McVail Told of Hearing Mrs. Taylor
Say She Would Kill Herself In Three Days If Taylor Didn't Live With Her
"I will kill myself if you don't.
That is the declaration Mrs. Taylor made
to her husband, John Taylor now on trial for the murder of his wife, less
than three months before her lifeless body was found on their front porch in
Coal Basin. She told her husband that in the presence of Mrs. McVail, one
of the witnesses for the defense yesterday afternoon. It was on the 29th
day of May that Mrs. Taylor said this to her husband. Mrs. Taylor had just
come into the McVail home carrying a bundle containing some letters and a
pistol. She laid the bundle down on the table. Taylor was in the room at
the time, He picked up the pistol.
"Are you going to kill me?" she asked him.
"No; what do I want to kill you for?" Taylor replied. "Then I will kill
myself" she said. After the wife made this declaration she and Taylor took
a walk. They returned to the McVail home the next day. Mrs. McVail asked
why they didn't make up and live together again. Taylor answered that he
had not decided what to do.
"If he does not live with me I will Kill
myself," Mrs Taylor said to Mrs. McVail. The prosecution proved that Taylor
made threats that he would kill his wife if he found her in company with
another man. Mrs. Taylor had made statements to her friends that Taylor had
threatened her life on several occasions. The defense is that the woman
John L. Taylor, the man on trial for the
killing of his wife, went on the stand yesterday afternoon and identified
more than fifty letters his wife had written to him while he was away from
home a few month before she was found dead on the porch. He also identified
a long statement of more than 100 closely written pages which the wife is
said to have been writing for three or four months before her death. The
prosecution proved by one witness that Mrs. Taylor said her husband poked a
gun under her nose and made her relatives that were not true, but the
letters introduced yesterday for identification were written when Taylor was
160 miles away and Taylor said to a representative of the Times that in then
was the statement that Mrs. Taylor mother and her sister had forced her to
live with other men.
The court has not yet decided that the
long statement written by Mrs. Taylor before her death and which involves
some prominent people in Aspen, will be admitted in evidence. Judge Shumate
will read the letters and the statement today and will decide Monday whether
to admit the statement. The prosecution contends that the statements were
either written by Taylor himself or the Taylor forced his wife to write them
at the point of a gun. Andrew Anthony testified yesterday that the he had
not seen the statements were found in a washstand drawer after the woman's
death and that Taylor said he knew nothing of the existence of the
statements until after his wife's death.
The letters written by Mrs. Taylor to her
husband and the testimony of witnesses yesterday indicated that Taylor and
his wife lived happily together, with a quarrel here or there, but that no
violence was ever done to her. No evidence has been submitted that he
struck or beat her.
While Taylor was on the stand yesterday he
read to himself some of the letters that his wife had written to him while
he was in Coal Basin and he read part of the statement she is said to have
written about her life and the lives of her relatives, just before her
death. Taylor did not display the slightest excitement. He was a peculiar
way of expressing himself and is of a very nervous temperament. yesterday
when a letter was handed to him for identification and he was asked who
wrote it, he answered every time: "My deceased wife Lillie May Taylor,
The sole purpose for placing him on the
stand was to identify some of the letters she had written to him and to
identify the wife's hand writing. Judge Rucker stated that he would be
placed on the stand later to tell the story of his relations with his wife,
the circumstances surrounding the killing and to explain some of the
accusation made against him.
Some of the young women involved in the
statement Mrs. Taylor wrote have since married and Judge Rucker said a few
days ago he considered it very bad policy to allow these names to be given
to the public. It is said that the statement makes rich reading. I was
addressed to The Aspen Times and in the statement Mrs. Taylor says she does
not want it published until after she had killed herself. It is in the
nature of a review of her whole life to be made public only after her
death. In the statement she says she will kill her mother and sister and
several other people who have been the ruin of her life, and then commit
Taylor swore yesterday on the stand that
the statement was in the handwriting of his wife and that he knew nothing
whatever about the existence of such statement until after his wife's death.
The clothing which John L. Taylor wore in
the mines at Coal Basin on the day his wife was found dead on the front
porch were examined by at least one person and no blood was found on any of
the garments, according to the testimony of Andrew Anthony, witness for the
defense. The defense began the introduction of it's testimony yesterday
morning. The prosecuting attorney had made a statement to the jury that he would
prove that the clothing which Taylor wore when he came out of the mine and a
few hours before the body was of his wife was found on the front porch of
their hom, had been destroyed. The contention of the state is that Taylor
rammed the revolver down his wife's throat and shot her and then burned the
clothing he wore to conceal the blood spots on them.
The testimony of Anthony was a strong
point in favor of the defense, as he worked in the mine with Taylor, knew
the clothes wore and helped pack the clothing that was in the house just
after the death of Mrs. Taylor. He found an examined the suit Taylor wore
just before the killing and there were no blood stains on it.
Veta Carter a 16 year old girl, who was
employed as a servant in the William Barber home just two doors from the
Taylor home in Coal Basin, was the first witness for the defense yesterday.
Miss Carter was in the kitchen washing dishes between 1 and 2 o'clock on the
day Mrs. Taylor was killed, and she testified yesterday that she heard
quarreling in the direction of the Taylor home five minutes before she heard
a shot fired. When she heard the shot she continued her work and paid no
further attention until Mrs. Barber ran out of the room. Then she followed.
The testimony of Mrs. Barber for the
prosecution was that when she reached the corner of her house and looked
around toward the Taylor home she saw Taylor stooping down over the body of
his wife and she saw a revolver in his hand. Miss Carter, who ran out of
the room and around where she could see the Taylor home just after Mrs.
Barber did, said on the stand yesterday that Taylor was not on the porch
when she looked up that way, but that he was in the house and that she did
not see either him or a revolver.
Miss Carter heard Mrs. Barber say "Look!
and Mrs. Barber testified that when she said hat she saw a revolver in
"When Mrs. Barber said "Look! Look!" I did
look and only saw the corpse lying on the front porch," Miss Carter said "I
Did not see Mr. Taylor on the porch. He was inside the house, I suppose. I
talked with Mrs. Barber the next day. I know I did not see a revolver and I
was looking in the same direction that Mrs. Barber was looking"
Judge Rucker then asked Miss Carter if
Mrs. Barber didn't tell her that she had not seen a revolver in Taylor's
hands. District Attorney Gentry objected to this, as Judge Rucker had not
laid the proper foundation. Mr. Gentry said that when Mrs. Barber was on
the stand a few days ago he should have asked her whether she did or did not
tell Miss Carter that she did not see a revolver Judge Shumate sustained the
Pat J. Nallan of Coal Basin, one of the
pit bosses in the coal mine there, said he arrived at the Taylor home two
hours after the woman had killed herself. Mr. Nallan said he helped clean
the Taylor house. He said that Mrs. Taylor's body had been washed and laid
out when got thee. Taylor spent the night with him. Nallan said he
examined the stove in the Taylor home while making a fire and that no
clothing had been burned in the stove. This tends to upset another theory
of the prosecution that Taylor burned the clothes he had on at the time he
is alleged to have killed his wife.
Jerry Johnson, a coal miner, was the next
witness in Taylor's behalf. The trouble that Taylor and his wife had just
before the killing was over a pay check. There was something said about the
check blowing out the window of the pantry. The state proved by one witness
that thee was a screen on the pantry window and by another thereat the
window was hard to open. Johnson testified yesterday that he had opened the
window just after Mrs. Taylor's death and that the window was easy to open
and did not have a screen on it. Johnson said that he and another man
examined the walls closely and that the walls as one witness for the state
testified, Andrew Anthony also testified yesterday that he examined the
walls closely and that there were no finger prints on the walls of the bed
room. Andrew Anthony, a coal miner, was the next witness for the defense.
Anthony was the one who helped Taylor pack his clothes after the wife was
found dead. clothes in a trunk the Anthony said Taylor's work clothes he had
on the morning he left the mine the same day. Mrs. Taylor was killed "Mrs.
Barber told me she did not know anything about the case the day after the
tragedy," Anthony testified yesterday.
Aspen Daily Times,
Wednesday, January 29, 1908 (page 2)
CHARGED HIM WITH OTHER CRIMES
Imputations by District Attorney of a Most
Taylor Denies Shooting Woman Ten Years Ago
and Killing McDonald
I wanted to get rid of her. I didn't want any person around
me that was always talking about killing herself. The only reason I took
her back was to save her life from her own hands. I wanted to separate from
her all the time and intended to in time."
This startling statement was made on the
witness stand yesterday morning by John L. Taylor, on trial in the district
court charged with the murder of his wife on July, 19, 1907, by shooting her
in the mouth with a revolver. Taylor was on the stand all yesterday morning
and the day before. He told again yesterday of the confessions his wife
made to him about her other relations with other men and about her constant
threats to kill herself.
In the cross-examination of Taylor
yesterday morning District Attorney Gentry forced Taylor to testify that ten
years ago he shot a woman through the neck in the redlight district in Aspen
and that he was arrested and tried on the charge. He was acquitted. In
answer to a question by the district attorney, Taylor said that on the night
the woman was shot through the neck he wore a long beard on his face and
that following morning he was clean shaven.
Attorney Gentry asked Taylor if in 1904 his brother-in-law, William McDonald
was not killed by a gun shot wound in the mouth in his cabin here in Aspen,
similar to the way Lillie May Taylor, his wife was killed and that if he did
not confess to his wife that he had killed McDonald denied knowing anything
about how his brother-in-law was killed.
At the time of McDonald's death if as said
that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth.
According to the testimony of Dr. J. C.
Stone, Taylor was considering the advisability of committing suicide in less
than an hour after he found the body of his wife on the front porch. Dr.
Stone is from Coal Basin and was a witness for the defense yesterday. He
said that when he was called to the house to attend Mrs. Taylor in less than
half an hour after she had shot herself, he found Taylor stalking from room
to room in a frenzy of grief, muttering to himself that he did not see why
she had done it. he said that Taylor carried on so much that he became
uneasy about him. While he was examining the mouth of the dead woman Taylor
came into the room and said:
"The grief and sorrow is too much, I do not have to
stand it do I, doctor?"
Dr. Stone said he looked around and Taylor
had a gun in his hand looking at it with his finger on the trigger just as
though he was considering the advisability of killing himself. Dr. Stone
jumped forward and seized the gun. He took possession of it. Then Taylor
began waling through the rooms again. Some thing attracted the doctors
attention to him again and Taylor stood in the same place as before with
another revolver in his hand looking into the muzzle of it as though he were
just preparing to shoot himself. Dr. Stone asked Taylor what he was going
to do with his little boy when he killed himself. Taylor lowered the gun
and Dr. Stone stepped forward the second time and took the gun from him.
"I then though I had better send for
someone to stay with Taylor, as he was in such a state of mind I did not
know what he might do," Dr. Stone testified. "I continued to examine the
body of the dead woman. It is true I was not examining the body of the
woman all the time. I was taking revolvers away from Taylor part of the
time. I did not see any bruises and marks on the face, except of the shots
in her mouth. Two of the upper front teeth were pushed out ward but I did
not notice any "V" shaped breaks in the front teeth and I examined the mouth
carefully at the time.
The three physicians who examined the body
after it was exhumed testified that there was a "V" shaped break in the
front teeth, such a break as would be caused from drawing a revolver out of
the mouth suddenly, or thrusting something hard into the mouth with great
force. The statement from Dr. Stone that there was no break in the teeth
that he noticed, although he examined the mouth in less than an hour after
the woman was found dead, took some of the force out of the theory that the
gun was forced into the woman's mouth.
Taylor again told on the stand yesterday
the trouble he had restraining his wife coming to Aspen from Coal Basin last
June to kill her brother and sister and several men whom she said had ruined
her life. Taylor said that his wife told him then all about how she was
going to kill her relatives and enemies. She was coming to Aspen, he said,
pretend to be very friendly with them and place poison in their food which
she was going to ask the privilege of preparing for them. Taylor said he
had a hard time to pacify her see exclaimed;
"Oh, John, I could kill anybody on
earth except you and the baby."
Mrs. Taylor told him, according to his
testimony, that after she killed some of her relatives and enemies she would
not be taken alive, "but I will die fighting." she said.
Taylor testified that he did not take his
wife to Coal Basin to kill her and that he did not force her at gun point of
a revolver to write some of the letters and the long statements that were
introduced in evidence. He said that he did not write them himself and the
force her to copy them, either.
Taylor said that on one occasion he became
so desperate after listening to her threats so many times that he invited
her on occasion to take a revolver and shoot him in the back of the head, as
her confessions to him had broken his heart and destroyed the hope of ever
living a happy moment again.
Taylor said in his testimony yesterday
that her threats were so frequent to take her own life he thought at one
time he would take her to home of a neighbor and have her tell them what she
proposed to do. He said he wanted other people to know how she was talking
about killing herself so that if anything should happen he would have
witnesses to her statement of her intention to take her own life.
He said in his testimony yesterday morning
that he had forbidden his wife relatives to attend the funeral. He said
this at the request of his wife, he said, as he had often told him that when
she died she not even want her parents and relative to look at her face in
death. Taylor said he did not have the body buried one day sooner than was
Taylor said yesterday that his wife
carried on at a great rate when he came up from Coal Basin May 28, 1907.
She begged him to take her back..She told him everything, he said, but what
that everything was the court would not allow him to tell the jury. In his
testimony yesterday Taylor contradicted the testimony of several of the
state's witnesses and some of his own.
"I think my wife thought more of me than
she did of our child, ten to one," Taylor testified.
At one place in his testimony he told how
he took her back to save her life and didn't expect to live with her long
and at another time he said; "I took her back and I am of it!"
"It is not true that my wife an I had
trouble that morning and that I shot her, went back into the house, took off
my shirt and come out again," Taylor vehemently declared, when asked by the
district attorney if he did not do these things.
Taylor said that he did help carry the
body of his wife into the house, but he said that when he went into the room
where she was lying on the bed he did not jump upon the bed and say; "May,
May, why in the hell--- don't you wake Up?" What he did say was, "May, my
God, wake up."
There has been considerable controversy
between the state and the defense about the contents of a letter Taylor
wrote to his wife on May 18, 1907 in which witnesses fro the state said he
wrote for his wife to go her way and would go his and that he made some kind
of a threat which alarmed her. Taylor told yesterday what the letter
contained. According to his testimony the letter, which he said was
destroyed by his wife, read something like that this:
"I never did like you, but I loved
you and worshipped you. I have always been truthful and virtuous. I will
be in Aspen to pay my bills. If reports are true you can go your way and I
will go mine. I have Coal Basin with this letter." At the time I wrote
this I never expect I never expected to write to my wife again," Taylor
said on the witness stand yesterday.
Taylor was on the witness stand the entire
morning yesterday and for a few minutes yesterday afternoon. Dr.Stone of
Coal Basin was the next the next witness.
After Dr. Stone had completed his
testimony, A. W. DeMarais, the undertaker, was called to the witness stand.
Mr. DeMarais went to Coal Basin after the body of Mrs. Taylor. He said that
when he arrived there the body was in pretty bad condition and he wrapped it
in a blanket and oil cloth and placed in a casket to bring to Aspen. Taylor
had instructed him to take the body to home of his sister, Mrs. Jennie
Johnstone, as he did not
want any of the dead woman's relatives to
se the body. Mr. DeMarais said the two front teeth were loose and projected
out. The face was quite dark, but there were no marks and bruises outside
of the marks on the mouth caused by the explosion.
After the body was taken to the Johnstone
home Mr. DeMarais was preparing it for burial. He
discovered something in the woman's mouth. It was the absorbent cotton Dr.
Stone had place there just after the woman was found dead to stop the
bleeding. Mr. DeMaris started to pull the cotton out of the mouth. Mrs.
Johnstone came into the room and asked him what he was doing. He explained
that he was trying to see what it was in the woman's mu=mouth.
"What does it concern you?" Mrs. Johnstone
"Not a thing on earth," Mr. Demaris
said. Then put it back there and finish."
Daily Times, Friday, February 1, 1908 (page 1)
FATE OF TAYLOR REST WITH JURY
Judge Rucker For the Defense Spoke Almost
Four Hours and Made Eloquent Address
District Attorney Gentry Began Final
Argument at 4 and Completed at 6 o'clock - No Verdict Had Been Reported
at Late Hour
The fate of John L. Taylor now rests in the hands of the
twelve men who have so patiently and attentively listened to the evidence,
instructions of the court and the arguments of the attorneys on both sides.
District Attorney Gentry concluded his final argument to the jury shortly
after 5:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon and the jury was then taken to
dinner. After dinner the jurors were returned to their room at the court
house and began considering the verdict. A verdict may not be reached
before sometime tomorrow. If the Jury reviews any of the evidence, reads
the instructions of the court and the long statements and the letters
purporting to give the life history of Mrs. Taylor, it will require sometime
to reading a verdict.
When court convened yesterday morning
Judge Rucker, Attorney for Taylor, began the argument for the defense. For
two hours he reviewed the evidence and at times launched into a passionate
plea for the life of the man whom; he had so ably defended. The court room
was crowded throughout the day and the closest attention was given to the
argument of the attorneys. At 12 o'clock court convened at 2 o'clock he
began again his review of the evidence and Judge Rucker announced that he
had not completed his argument. When concluded his address a few minutes
before 4 o'clock. At that hour District Attorney Gentry began his final
argument in behalf of the prosecution and he spoke for two hours.
Judge Rucker began by explaining in the
jury that he was appointed by the court to defend Taylor and that the
compensation he would never receive a cent he would make the same earnest
plea for the man he felt was perfectly innocent and was being hounded by his
enemies and an adverse public sentiment.
"I feel confident of this defendant's
innocence," Judge Rucker said. "I feel it in my heart that he is innocent
and if I did not receive one penny in compensation for my services I would
feel that I should do what I could in defense of an innocent man. Every
little incident and every conceivable circumstance that could be construed
in the slightest degree against this defendant has been used in connection
with the clamor of public sentiment to prejudice the minds of this jury
against the defendant."
Then Judge Rucker turned his attention to
answering some of arguments made by District Attorney Gentry in his opening
address Thursday afternoon. He said that the District attorney was mistaken
when he said to the jury that he could lookthem in the face and tell them
that he proved every allegation the prosecution had made in the opening
"What about the statement that the
district attorney made in his opening statement to the jury that he expected
to prove by one witness that Taylor was seen to bring the body of his wife
out of the front door and lay it on the front porch?" Judge Rucker asked
"That was one of the most material allegations of the prosecution and I
stated to the jury on the first day of the trial that if the prosecution
could prove that Taylor was seen to bring the body of his wife out the front
door and lay it on the porch he deserved to be hung. But the prosecution
has produced no witness or witnesses to prove that Taylor was seen doing
anything of the kind. The state brought Mrs. William Barber here to prove
that charge and the nearest she came to it was to say that she saw Mr.
Taylor come out the front door of his home, stoop over the body of his wife
and while he was stooping over she saw something shining in the sunlight
like a revolver. She wouldn't even swear positively that it was a revolver
she saw. But the testimony of this woman was contradicted by two other
witness and taking into consideration all the circumstances and interest
Mrs. Barber has taken against this defendant I am of the opinion she has
willfully perjured herself.
"The district attorney told you that this
defendant had violated the law in going to Salt Lake City to get married and
he says this is one circumstance to prove that Taylor is competent to kill.
The law of Colorado does not stretch its arms out into Utah where this man
married the young woman who afterwards killed herself, but if it did and
this defendant violated the law in that instance, it would not prove that he
was competent to kill. Does such evidence as that convict him of the crime
"The prosecution has tried in every
conceivable way to prove that Mrs. Taylor was afraid of her husband. No
wonder she was afraid of him. She had violated the promises she had made to
him. Before they were married she made a faithful promise to him that she
would have nothing further to do with her mother and sisters. The little
girl whom he loved and who loved him had confided to him that when she was
only 11 years old her mother compelled her to sell her virtue to a man named
Nick Egan. Is it any wonder that he exacted a promise from her that she
would have nothing to do with such people? If he did take that interest in
his wife is that any pre that he was competent to. There are thousands
and thousands of people in Pitkin County that competent to kill. Any man is
competent to kill when he has surrender provocation. The best man on a
would kill in defense of his home and his life and when the district
attorney accuses this man of being incompetent to he makes no more
ridiculous accusation against him could be made against any other man."
"The prosecution has attempted to prove by
one or two witnesses that Mrs. Taylor lived in constant fear of her
husband. The only proof the state had on this point was that Mrs. Taylor
had told her sister, Mrs. Hadden, that she was afraid of her husband. The
more than twenty letters and the long statements that Mrs. Taylor wrote
during the few months prior to her death disproves that charge. In these
letters and statements she said her husband had never treated her wrong.
She praised him for his excellent treatment of her, while on the other hand
she said that she had treated her poor husband like a dog. These statements
the woman made when she thought she was facing death by her own hands are
conclusive proof as to how she felt toward her husband."
"The trouble is with some of the witnesses
the state introduced that they are so prejudiced that they have
inadvertently stretched what the girl wife really told then. The district
attorney tries to make a great thing out of the testimony of a man and his
wife that claims to have seen Mrs. Taylor take her husband's horse to the
barn late one night. Because the devoted wife assisted him when he had been
working hard all day in the Newman tunnel, this man is accused of being
competent to will. The letters and statements introduced and which are in
her own handwritings proves that they did live happily together and the wife
declares in several letters that she is responsible for the conduct of her
husband on several occasions and that she had treated him like a dog."
"The district attorney asked that if the
wife had made threats that she would kill herself if John Taylor did not
live with her, why it was that she did not kill herself when he wrote her
that letter from Coal Basin telling her that she could go her way and he
would go his. I wan to call your attention to the fact, gentlemen of the
jury, that up until the time this defendant went to Coal Basin to live he
and his wife had lived happily together. it as when he became suspicious of
the actions of his wife, wrote to her that she could go her way and he would
go his, and then came to Aspen to see what was the matter that she told him
that if he did not take her back she would kill herself. It was then that
Taylor took her back to save her life. It was then that she told her
husband how she had been doing during his absence in Coal Basin and that she
had treated him like a dog. It was then that she begged and plead with him
to take her back and told him that if he did not she would kill herself in
three days. this defendant told you on the witness stand that when she made
this threat to take her own life that she looked so much like she meant what
she said that if alarmed him and he took her back to
save her life.
"When she confessed to her husband on the
way to Coal Basin how she had violated the promises she had made him and the
marriage vows he told her he could not forget and could not love her as she
once did, it was then she said her heart was breaking and that she would
kill herself. if these confessions the girl wife made to her about the way
her mother and her folks treated her, should not the district attorney bring
the mother, Mrs. Bew, to the witness stand to disprove the charge that the
daughter was lying when she wrote these statement. If all these things she
is said to have told her husband are not true, shy didn't the district
attorney place witness on the stand who live within the jurisdiction of this
court to prove that the poor girl was lying. In these statements she names
the men and In theses statements she names the men and the women who have
ben the cause of her ruin and her wretched life. She tells what they did to
her. Many of these men and women are in Aspen and still the district
attorney did not bring them into court to disprove the charges that the poor
girl made against them, but chooses rather to cast insinuation about this
defendant being responsible for the statements. the only witness to say
that John Taylor forced his wife to write these about her relatives was
Louise Hadden, a sister of the dead woman, who said that Mrs. Taylor told
her she was forced at the point of a gun to write letters to her mother," or
two hours the district attorney held the attention of the jury and a large
number of spectators. He again went over the statements and said he killed
his wife in cold blood.
Aspen Daily Times, Tuesday, February 4,
1908 (page 2)
HUNG JURY IN TAYLOR CASE
Jury Stood Ten For Conviction and Two For
For Almost 72 Hours Jury Voted and Argued,
But to No Avail
On Ballot for Second Degree Murder the
Jury Stood Nine to Three
Taken to Glenwood Springs to be Tried
Again March 18, 1908
The jury in the John L. Taylor case could not agree and
Judge Shumate discharged them. The Jury stood ten for conviction for murder
in the first degree and two for acquittal. That was the way the jury stood
on the first ballot Friday night and that was the way it stood on the last
ballot yesterday afternoon. The two jurors were as determined in their
convection that Taylor is innocent as the ten were that he was guilty.
The jury retired to make up a verdict
Friday afternoon at 5:30 o'clock. The jury had been out almost 72 hours.
While on first degree murder the jury stood ten to two, the vote was nine to
three on second degree murder. So at least one man on the jury made up his
mind that if Taylor was not to be convicted of first degree murder he should
Judge Shumate made an order just before
court to send Taylor to the county jail at Glenwood Springs. Irving
Everett, county coroner, left last night with Taylor for Glenwood Springs,
where he will be confined until the trial in March.
One member of the jury sent a note to the
court yesterday morning asking that if certain testimony could be read to
the jury. Judge Shumate took the matter under advisement. When the jury
did not report a verdict yesterday afternoon Judge Shumate asked the jury to
come into the court room. After the jurors had taken their seats in the
jury box, G. B. Brown, foreman, announced to the court that the jury had not
agreed and that it would not be possible for it to agree.
"We have acted on you instructions your
honor, and I believe it is absolutely impossible to arrive at a verdict,"
Mr. Brown announced to Judge Shumate.
"The sentiment of the jury hasn't changed
in forty eight hours," Thomas Carter, one of the members of the jury said.
"There is not much use holding you any
longer if you gentleman feel that way about it," Judge Shumate said to the
jury. "That is the feeling of the Jurors,"
Foreman Brown announced.
Judge Shumate then thanked the jurors for
their attendance and the consideration they had shown. He said that is
often became necessary to inflict hardship on a jury in murder cases, but
that he had tried to make it as pleasant for the jurors as possible. "We
have tried every way to have a fair and impartial trial and I believe we
have done so." the judge said. "The court could no urge on you to bring in
a verdict. You are discharged from further attendance.
Immediately after the jury was discharged
the case was set down for another trial March 18, 1908. Again the county
will have to go to an enormous expense to try Taylor. Judge Shumate fixed
his bond of $18,000, which he doubtless cannot give Taylor expected a
verdict of "Not Guilty" and was visibly disappointed when it was announced
that the jury could not agree on a verdict. Though it was a narrow escape
for him and he should have been very glad that it turned out as it did.
There is a conviction in the minds of the great majority of people in Aspen
and Pitkin county that Taylor killed his wife and there seems to be belief
in the minds of the great majority of the jurymen that he killed her. If it
had been a case of "majority rule" Taylor would have been convicted of first
degree murder and would have had to serve a life term in the penitentiary.
But the two men that though he was not
guilty were of the opinion that the proof was not clear that he killed his
wife. It was purely a case of circumstantial evidence and there were many
contradictory statements made by witnesses on both sides who seemed to
strive very hard to tell the truth.
Many are of the opinion that Taylor wrote
the statements which purported to be the life history of his wife, though
letters which were unquestionably written by her were introduced in evidence
and the hand writing was identically the same. Taylor might have had
something to do with the writing of the statements but the wife wrote them.
He might have written them and forced her to copy them, but even that does
not seem reasonable. If the woman had written such statements solely at his
dictation and forced by him at the point of a revolver, it does not seem
that she would have written to her people about it or made some
complaint to someone, as she would have known by the statements that she was
forced to write that he expected to kill her as soon as she had them
completed. So it does not seem reasonable that he wrote them and forced her
to copy them. It would have taken two or three weeks or maybe longer to
write all of the statements and the documents were in the house in different
places on the day of her death. They could not have been in the house very
long without her seeing them if Taylor wrote them. There is a mystery
surrounding these statements that she is said to have left which will never
be solved probably, though some of the jurors and great majority of the
people are of opinion that he wrote them.
The strongest argument that he did write
them is the fact that in the whole statement nothing is said about their
only child and there are pages telling about how she loves her husband and
what a dear model of a husband he is. That feature of it is a little
overdone. It is not like another to write such documents and no say a word
of love for the baby boy or give any directions whatever about what was to
be done with him after death.
Another thing in the case that did not
look very good; Taylor made himself out such a fine fellow all through the
trial and made his wife out such a bad woman. He was a most forgiving
husband and every time his wife would do anything wrong he would open his
arms after some persuasion and pleading and take her back again. he was a
regular saint and she was a most terrible creature. Taylor overdid that
feature of the case. He isn't an angel by a whole lot and from what people
say of the girl wife he is a whole lot worse than she is. Most anybody know
that the girl wife did not go out of the house that July day and kill
herself without the slightest provocation. Taylor said on the witness stand
that he and his wife had not quarreled that morning, but that he was just as
kind and considerate as could be with her. Taylor didn't tell the truth
If Taylor had come right square out and
told that he and his wife had a quarreled that day and that she flew out of
the house in a rage and shot herself it would have looked reasonable, but it
is not at all reasonable, but it is not at all reasonable that she would
have walked out of the house while he was talking so kind and considerate to
her and killed herself.
On the other hand there are many features
in favor of Taylor. if he had forced the woman's mouth open to place the
revolver in her mouth there would necessarily have been a struggle in which
her face and throat would have been bruised, her hair disheveled and her
clothing torn. The woman would not have meekly submitted. There was not a
mark or a bruise on her face or Throat that was not made by the explosion of
the shot in the mouth. It would have been impossible for Taylor to have
killed the woman with a terrible struggle and in doing that he would have
left marks and bruises.
So taking the case all in all, there were
doubts about Taylor having killed the woman then on the other hand is looks
very plain that he did kill her. But the jury neither acquitted nor
convicted Taylor so there is no use grieving over spilt milk.
To Judge Rucker is due the credit for
saying Taylor from life imprisonment. judge Rucker made a stubborn and able
fight for Taylor and he did not fail to take advantage of every opportunity
to land a point in favor of his client. Although his fee was paid by the
county and he was appointed by the court to defend Taylor lawyer in fighting
just as hard for the man whom he had appointed to defend as if there was a
bi fee in the case.
Daily Times, Thursday, February 6, 1908 Page 2)
TO BUY CANVAS SINGLE COTS FOR THE JURORS
It Will Be Cheaper To Pay $24 for 12 Cots
That Will Last For Years Than To Rent Them
Judge Shumate appeared before the board of county
commissioners yesterday to suggest that the county buy some canvas cots for
the jurors to sleep on when they are held over night in the jury room at the
court house on important criminal cases.
During the more than two weeks of the John
L. Taylor murder trial the jurors slept on rented mattresses. Judge Shumate
said that a dozen single cots may be purchased for $2 each and could be
folded up and kept clean while not in use. He though this would be more
satisfactory and more economical in the long run.
Judge Shumate told the board that District
Attorney Gentry had mentioned to him that he would like to have an office
arranged for the district attorney alone, as it was not always the best to
confer with witnesses in the halls or in the hotel. The board then ordered
that the office now occupied by the county surveyor be vacated by him, as
this is the office occupied by the district attorney for so many years. The
surveyor will either move into the middle office in the county clerk's
office or occupy one of the rooms on the second floor.
Saturday, April 11, 1908 (page 1)
JOHN TAYLOR JURY HEARD TESTIMONY OF
District Attorney Gentry made the opening statement for the state
in the John L. Taylor case today, followed by Judge Rucker for the defense.
The statements of the district attorney as to what he expected to prove was
in substance the same as the opening at Aspen in January. He said would
prove by circumstantial and direct evidence that John L. Taylor murdered his
wife in Coal Basin July 17, 1907. In the opening statement for the defense
Judge Rucker told of the statements Mrs. Taylor had made prior to her death.
The introduction of testimony began this
afternoon. The witnesses examined this afternoon were: W. S. Copeland,
Charles Daily, Dr. Twining, Dr. Guthri and Dr. Judkins, P. F. Murphy, who
was a policeman in Aspen at the time of the murder also was a witness.
These men told the same stories they related on the witness stand during the
first trial in Aspen.
The doctors told of the location of the
wound in the back of the mouth of Lillie May Taylor and of the breaks in the
front teeth Copeland and Murphy told of seeing Taylor in Aspen two or three
months before the shooting and of the threats he made against her. Copeland
told also of seeing John Taylor the day after Mrs. Taylor was buried and of
the despairing way he spoke of her character.
"We have a good jury and I feel very much
encouraged" Rucker the attorney for John Taylor, said last night. It
required only a few hours to obtain a jury in Glenwood."
Word from Leonard Duncan says that he is
located on a fine ranch in New Mexico.
Tom Nellor left yesterday for Glenwood
Springs to attend the trial.
Daily Times, Tuesday, April 21, 1908 (page 1)
John L. Taylor who has been on trial in Glenwood Spring charged
with the murder of his wife, Lillie May Taylor, in Coal Basin last July, was
found guilty by the jury at 11 o'clock Sunday morning. Judge Shumate will
sentence Taylor Friday. It is understood the case will be appealed. The
jury retired to make up its verdict at 10:30 o'clock Saturday night, but did
not begin balloting on the case until Sunday Morning. There were a few of
the jurymen who voted for first degree murder on the first ballot. It was a
compromise verdict, some of the jurymen wanting to be lenient with Taylor.
Daily Times, Friday, April 24, 1908 (page 1)
TAYLOR TO SERVE 20 TO 30 YEARS
Judge Shumate Sentenced Him Yesterday In
"Why Didn't You Shoot Me and Be Done
The motion for a new Trial in the John L. Taylor case was
overruled by Judge Shumate in Glenwood Springs yesterday, and Taylor was
sentenced to serve not less that Twenty years nor more than thirty five
years in the penitentiary at hard labor. Judge Rucker presented the motion
of a new trial and it was promptly overruled. This probe ends on the most
expensive and closely contested murder trial in this section of the county.
The first trial in Aspen last January resulted in a hung jury. Judge
Rucker, attorney for Taylor made an able plea for his client at that trial.
It was thought to be almost impossible to obtain a jury in Pitkin county; so
by agreement the case was transferred to Glenwood Springs. It required only
a few hours to obtain a jury here.
From Taylor's actions when he was
sentenced yesterday, he expected a lighter sentence. He looked very much
surprised and when Judge Shumate finished the sentence Taylor said: "Why
didn't you shoot me and be done with it?"
As the trial in Glenwood Judge Rucker was
assisted by Lyman Hays. But the probable strength of the two able attorney
was not enough to save Taylor's liberty, but it came very near doing it. A
compromise was reached by the jury and a second degree verdict was agreed
upon. Taylor has no money with which to make an appeal to the supreme
court, so he will have to go to the penitentiary to serve out his sentence.
if the case is appealed it will be through the efforts of his sister, Mrs.
Johnstone, who has stood by her brother throughout this long contest for his
Mr. Uriah Taylor father of John Taylor, a
good citizen and a perfect old gentlemen, returned to Aspen from his farm in
Missouri only a few weeks ago. The father was confident that his son would
be given freedom. He felt that the son was not guilty and was being
prosecuted. He told on the witness stand how Mrs. Lillie May Taylor, the
dead woman had told him she would take her own life in very much the same
way as she met death. There are many mysteries connected with the case that
will never be unraveled. In the eyes of the great majority of the people in
Aspen Taylor was guilty. He stoutly denies it and his people say he isn't.
That is where the matter stands. But he will have to serve the sentence
just the same.
Times, Saturday, April 25, 1908 (page 1)
"I AM AN INNOCENT MAN"
John L. Taylor Wrote These Words On Back Of
Baby's Photograph ---
Body Brought Here Yesterday and Funeral At
2 O'clock Sunday Afternoon
These words were written on the
back of his baby's picture by John Taylor a few hours before he
committed suicide. Two pictures of his little boy had been
given to him by his sister from which he was to choose one. On
the back of one of the pictures he wrote:
"Shun those people that were the
cause of your mother's
On the other picture he wrote: "I
am innocent man and have been wronged. Be a good boy." So far
as is known Taylor left no other written statements.
The body of John L.
Taylor, who committed suicide in the county jail at Glenwood
Springs Thursday night arrived in Aspen on the Denver & Rio
Grande yesterday afternoon, accompanied by the father and
mother, Mr. and Mrs. Uriah Taylor and the sister Mrs. Johnstone.
The body was taken to the home of Mrs. Johnstone 101 Center
Street. The funeral will be held at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon
from the home of Mrs. Johnstone and the body will be buried in
Red Butte Cemetery. The grief of the aged mother over the loss
of her unfortunate son is almost more than she can bear.
When Mr. and Mrs.
Taylor told their son good bye in the jail Thursday night at 9
o'clock he was cheerful and smiled when he said "Good by mother;
good by father.' Mr. Taylor said his son was brave under the
terrible strain and it did not enter his mind that John Taylor
would take his own life. The father and mother stayed in
Glenwood until after he was sentenced and until the last hope of
saving him from prison was gone.
The details of the
suicide were very much as given in the Times yesterday morning.
It was a miracle how Taylor could have managed to hang himself
with such a short piece of rope. The piece of rope was only a
few feet long. It was taken from a hammock. The men sleeping
adjoining the Taylor cell were awakened shortly after midnight
by his struggles. The light revealed his body dangling by the
rope. They set up a cry that awakened the other prisoners and
the sheriff. Under Sheriff Cardnell rushed up to see what was
the matter and took in the situation at a glance. He hurriedly
cut the rope and Taylor's lifeless body felt to the floor in a
heap. A physician was summoned, but nothing could be done. So
far as is known Taylor did not leave any written message. He
maintained until the end that he was an innocent man and had
been prosecuted by his enemies. Strong is the belief that he
was innocent, he told some of his friends that he had rather die
than suffer the disgrace of going to the penitentiary.
convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to from 20 to 30
years in the state penitentiary at hard labor. It was only ten
or twelve hours after the sentence had been passed on him and he
knew that his last home of freedom was gone - that he was a dead
man by his own hands. The charge was that he killed his wife
Lillie May Taylor in their home in Coal Basin last July. He
claimed that the wife placed the revolver in her mouth and fired
the shot that ended her life. The contention of the
that he forced the revolver into his wife's mouth and fired the
shot. There were no witnesses that saw the deed committed. It
was all circumstantial evidence. Practically the same testimony
that was introduced at the first trial in Aspen was given to the
jury in Glenwood. There has been much prejudice against Taylor
in Aspen and in Coal Basin. Still there were many who believed
that he did not kill his wife. The repeated declarations that
she had made before her death that she would kill herself was
their foundation for the belief than he was innocent. Now that
he is dead, all will take a more charitable view of it. If he
was guilty he has paid the penalty. If he was innocent a great
injustice has been done. But twelve good men have passed on his
case and declared by their verdict that he was guilty. The law
is supreme and should always be so.