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Liar, Fraud, Cheat

Liar, Fraud, Cheat image
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The closing scènes of the second trial of Edward Ascher alias Robert Lang for the murder of Valmore C. Nichols, the Pittsfield farmer, at Belle Isle, on Aug. 10 last, are being enacted in Detroit. The evidence ior the prosecution was the same as in the flrst trial, excepting that it was stronger as to the presence of arsenio in the stomach of tne murdered man. The defenseonthe first trial pnt in nu evidence. On this trial Ascher's father and mother and two other relatives testified that he was at home on the night of the naarder from 6 to 8 o'clock. Ascher himself was put upon the stand yesterday. Ascher told of his first acqnaintance with Nichols, the rnurdered man. He said that he first met bim in March of last year. At the time, he was aüvertising for spiritnalistic business nnder the name of flarry Baeder. He explained the taking of the alias of "Robert Lang" as follows: "When I first started out, several year ago, I had to choose a name quick and the first one that carne into iny head was Robert Líujk, the name of an old friend of min: u Detorit. I stuck to that name. 1 wdn't mean anything wrong when 1 took the name, but took it because it was the first ons that carne to my mind. " Ascher W6nt on to state that he first began to correspond with Nichols some time in March of last year, and that he afterward gave Nichols sittings at $1 each. He wrote letters to Nichols telling him whac time to come into town to see him. "How much mouey did you get ont of Nichols?" asked Mr. Navin. "About 60 or 70.'" "Did he always come to Detroit to have bis sittings?" "'No; he would sit at home (Pittsfield) and I vvould sit in De tori t. " "Abont what tima did you look for the spirits each evening?" "lt woiild generally be about 8 o'clock. " "Wben did you see Valmore C. Nichols last?" "1 saw him at the home of Mrs. Schnltz, 124 Lafayette ave., on Aug. 10 abont 2 o'clock in the afternoon. " " Did you go to Belle Isle with him n that night?" "No I was at home all the evenng.'' Ascher then testihed that he did not , now what he was arrested for on the ( ight of Aug. 19 and that none of the . fücers toló him. He thonght, : ver, he had been arrested for being a 'ake medium, the same as Gillman, 3onovan and others. He tated that ie helped the Evening News exposé )onovan and received therefor $50. He was going toquit the business nyway and thought that he might as wfcll get all the money out of it that he ould. "When he carne home from his 2 years travel his folks did not know iim. He stated that he did not know Witness Whitmore and never saw him bef ore the last trial. "Were yon ever arTested bef ore?' "Yes." "Where?" "In Louisville. " "What for'r' Ascher then stated without hesitancy : 'For murder. " He then stated that on the hearing on the charge of murder the judge stated that there was not any evidenco warrant a trial of the case. He then stated that while in Louisville he was an organizer for a spiritualistic society. He freely admitted laving swindled John Kuprion out of 60, but said that he advised Kuprion o get a belt and some money to put in t. Kuprion got the belt and $60 in tolcL While Kuprion was out of the roem Ascher changed the 12 $5 gold pieces for 12 nickles and stated farther ;hat Kuprion had furnished the nickles sarher. Ascher said af teward that he was obliged to do this for he had to have f30 to get his trunk out of pawn. He coucluded his testimony by stating again tbat he knew absolutely nothing of the disappearance of Nichols. In reply to Mr. Frazer's first ques tion, Ascher acknotfledged that he purchased four ounces of arsenio from Drug Clerk Frank Mead, but denied Mead 's statement that he had said he purchase... it to send to a frieud in ada. "Whatdid yon buy it for?" asked Frazer. „ "To 'kill fleas on Mrs. Schultz's dog." He denied ever having pnrchased any copper wire. "Ascher," said Frazer, "what were yon doing previons to 1894?" " Working at my trade as upholserer, and in the theatrical business " "How long have yon been a fakir?" "Sinoe 1894." "Then yon have been a fakir for the last five years. " "Yes, all except eight months. " "Well, that's because yon've been locked np in jail and couldu't be. " Ascher laughed and said it was. " Wben did you flrst work this iiiedium business?" "Iu Denver, I gave private or individnal sittings. " "What is tbat graft?" "Oh, yon jast answer the questions they ask. " "The questions jnst come iu sealed envelopes, do they not?" ' ' Yes. I had to tear the envelope open and read the questions, and I would then slip the questions into another envelope and the sitter wonld not know that the envelope had been opened. " "You must have been all right to do all ot that while the sitter was looking at you. " "Oh, that was easy. I would do it behind the elates that I held up. '" "And the 'sucker' would sit right in front of yon all the time?" "Yes." He declared that he did not steal a Diano in St. Louis, as has been stated, Dtit merely rented it and left it for the people in the house to return. He said ;hat he bought slates for 10 cents a pair and sold them to Nichols for $3, ihe other $7 which appeared on the expiess receipt he said was for the seven sittings Niehols had held by himself in his own home. "Do you mean to tell me that you sharged him a dollar every time he sat in his own home?" asked Frazer. "íes' "Well, how mnch did you charge him for living?" This made Ascher smile. "You have robbed Nichols ever since you have known him, haven 't yon?" "Well, no, I can't cali it robbing. He was satisfied. He paid me for my advice and services " "Then yon don't think you vrere doiug wrong in cheating him'?' "Well, I didn't put my hand in his pocket and take his money. " Ascher acknowledged that he had advised Nichols to wear the gold belt, telling him it would exercise a good spiritual influence. He said that he stnt Nichols the belt at the same time he sent the slates. "You have lied to Nichols, cheated and defrauded him out and out, havon't yon'? "Yes, I have." "You told him the more gold he put in the belt, the better inflaence it would exercise?" "Yes, sir. " "You just told him to put in enough to go around hits waist, but you didn't teil him what size gold pieces to use?" "No, sir." Presently Ascher contradicted his previous statement tbat he had told Nichols the more gold he put in the better. Mr. Prazer had the stenographer read it over, and then Ascher said he must have said that, but that he didn't mean it. "You were lying then?" "Well, I was humonng you. You ask the questions so rapidly. " "Would you lie to humor me?' asked Frazer. "Yes, sir. " Witness then told how Nichols hac ■ritten him that the belt was not Uoing him any good, and that he was go ing to another meduim. He had writ ten Kichols telling him that no other medium conld do any more for him than he was doing and that if the belt üid not ■work, it was probably because fchere was not enongh gold in it. He also said he did not charge Nichols Eor this advice. He told Frazer that he had never asked Nichols how much money was in the belt or what denominatiou it was, and that he never knew. Witness admitted sellmg a belt filled with brickdusttoZibold, the insurance agent, and admitted also that he told him to wear also a gold belt. "You just delibaretly Bwindled him?" "Yes, I suppose that is what yon wonld cali it. " "Cheating, defrauding, lying and swindling were your principal business, were they not?" "Yes." Ascher said Nichols had given him $25 on the Saturday before he went awav, and that part of that he invested in a pair of shoes, and a part to go to Island Lake. He also borrowed $18 from his mother that day, when he had $75 in his clothes. Ihen Frazer got back to the dog and the arsenic, and Ascher told how he bad purchased the drug, but afterwards threw itaway, as be remembered chat bis brother Louis, who was a dog faucier, ahd used tobáceo sterns soaked in water to kill fleas. - Then the story of the peculiar death of Mrs. Sabré Gates, the old lady of 60 years of age, down in Louisville, was brought in. Ascher told his version of it in an easy manner. Itran this way : Mrs. Gates went to him for sittings, and ne swindled her out of two or three dollars. He was called in when she was taken ill, found her in a dyiug condition, and advised sending for a doctor. Dr. Robert M. Pffeiffer, her faniily pbysician was sent for. Ascher denied ever giving Mrs. Gates Detized water, and putting cocaïne into water. He stated that Dr. Pffeiffer had told hiin he had been treating Mrs. Gates lor kidnty trouble. The surprise witness of the day was Dr.( Robert Pffeiffer, of Louisville, who was bronght np by the prosecution to testify about the Gates death. Ascher started when the uame was called, and appeared very ill at ease all the time the doctor was on the stand. Dr. Pffeiffer contradicted Ascher's story in rnany points. He denied having said that he was treating Mrs. Gates for kidney trouble. ïhe case strnck him as bc ing very strange, and as a resnlt he was instrumental in having "Lang" ar'rested. He said that Ascher had denied knowing anything about Mrs. Gates' watch, but that the pawn ticket was taken f rom him at the Louisville pólice station wben he was arrssted. The doctor attended the postmortem, and expressed liis opiniou irom tho analysis made of her stomacll, lungs and brain, that she had died of cocaiiae poisoning. He testified tha Urs. Gatess' son Rufus, had told bim hat "Lang" had been giving his notber "magnetized ■water," and that 'Laug," in the presence of reporters iu Louisvillr;, said that he had magnetized vaters, bnt that no one could do it bat leople in his business. The arguments began this moruing.