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Stephenson Says Oliver 'Beaten' - Affidavit Is Filed In Torch-Murder Case

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Stephenson Says Oliver ‘Beaten’

Affidavit Is Filed In Torch-Murder Case

A University professor and former local police commissioner claims that torch-murderer Frank Oliver... was in a "beaten" and "dazed condition" when he was arraigned before the late Circuit Judge George W. Sample in 1931.

The claims were made in an affidavit signed by Dr. Orlando W. Stephenson, associate professor of the teaching of history and head of University High School’s social studies department, and filed in circuit court this morning by Oliver’s attorney, Walter M. Nelson of Detroit.

Dr. Stephenson also claims that Judge Sample told him at the time he was in such a "distraught and excited” condition that he did not think he could go through with the arraignment of Oliver and his three-fellow torch murderers.

New Trial Refused

Oliver and three other men each were given a total of four life prison terms for their part in the brutal slaying of four Ypsilanti teen-agers. Oliver later asked for a new trial but Circuit Judge James R. Breakey, jr., denied his request at a hearing held in March.

Dr. Stephenson, who said he witnessed the 1931 arraignment, claimed in his affidavit that Harry Bennett, then Ford Motor Co. plant protection chief, told him Oliver and the others were beaten and tortured until they confessed the crime.

He also said that when Oliver entered the courtroom for arraignment, the "left side of his face was bruised and swollen and his left eye blackened and nearly swollen shut” and that his “shirt had been torn in shreds.”

Says Men ‘Tortured’

Bennett, Dr. Stephenson claimed, said that only one hour before the quartet of murderers was brought to court they had "been systematically subjected to torture and assault and battery” and threatened with further beatings if they did not repeat their confessions in open court.

Judge Sample’s condition, Dr. Stephenson said, plus a mob "howling for vengeance" outside the courthouse resulted in a failure to bring out in the record that Oliver appeared to be beaten and dazed.

After the arraignment, which Stephenson claimed was conducted in a courtroom that was "sealed off from the public,” the defendants were whisked away to Southern Michigan Prison in a 90-mile an hour automobile trip, he said.

Judge Breakey, in turning down Oliver’s request for a new trial, termed the latter’s 18-page confession, which was read at the arraignment, "a complete statement of guilt.”