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Doctors Testified At Farrington Trial

Doctors Testified At Farrington Trial image
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Swore That He Was Afflicted With Transitory Mania

During Such a Period Memory Was Temporarily Lost and a Person Was Not Responsible

Adrian, Mich., Feb. 5.- The work of examining witnesses was concluded yesterday afternoon in the Farrington trial and arguments began early this morning. It is agreed that each side shall have four hours for the concluding argument, which will, therefore, take all day. Probably the case will go to the jury tonight.

Yesterday the prosecution insisted on putting in evidence an unsigned letter found in Farrington's pocket by the sheriff, which the witness absolutely declined to identify further than to say it looked like his writing. He, however, declared positively he did not write it. It was unsigned, and the defense objected strenuously to its introductions. It read:

"Milan, Dec. 4.

"Sophia: I hardly know what to say to you. I can't describe my feelings. If you had been brought home a corpse without a moment's notice I could not feel any worse than I do now. Can it be possible that you, who I have trusted so much and done so much for, and placed so much confidence in you, can it be that you are so utterly devoid of principle, so faithless, so deceitful, such a hypocrite as to lead me on the way you have, and tell me you are going to live with ______"

Here the letter breaks off, and is unsigned.

The case ended very suddenly. The prosecutor called but two witnesses in rebuttal, Dr. J. E. Emerson of Detroit, is an expert in insanity, and Sheriff Shepherd.  The latter testified that about an hour after Farrington went to bed in his cell on the night of the crime, that he turned out again and began to dress under the impression it was morning.

The experts occupied the center of the stage all day. Dr. W. J. Herdman, of the University of Michigan, was called by the defense of Dr. Justin E. Emerson, of Detroit, by the prosecution.


There was a marked similarity in the general character of the testimony of the two witnesses. They agreed that there was such a thing as transitory mania, known to medical science, that it was very rare in occurrence, that there was usually a lack of premonitory symptoms, possibly due to the fact that the cases occurred under such circumstances that there was no trained observer to note the things that led up to the attack. Ordinarily the paroxysm began in a violent muscular outburst, an explosion Dr. Herdman called it, and was soon over. Consciousness was partially or wholly suspended, memory was temporarily lost and the patient for the time being was unaccountable for his actions, which were regulated by what seemed to be a mechanical correlation of ideas.


Dr. Herdman was given a hypothetical question several typewritten pages long, which reviewed the entire married life of Farrington, his family troubles and the whole story of the crime as the defense understands it, including his aging, his change in manner, his pacing his room at night and his allowing his business to fall into disorder. The story of the crime was strictly as Farrington told it, relating how his flesh crept and his senses seemed to reel as he saw his wife and Hooker together, telling of his loss of memory for a time,his recovery of memory on the street some half hour later, and his deep sleep in the jail that night, after his incarceration.


Dr. Herdman on this showing declared that the characteristic symptoms of transitory mania were presented in the statement.

Dr. Emerson was given a hypothetical question by the prosecution, also several typewritten pages long, in which the whole story was again related from that point of view.

On cross-examination of Dr. Herdman, the prosecutor took the hypothetical question of the defense and suggested many amendments to it.

He inserted into the statement that Farrington during the term of the alleged lapse of memory fired his revolver five times, killing Hooker and not injuring his wife or the sheriff, although he fired over the latter's shoulder.  He also added the statements that afterward Farrington said:  "I want that revolver, it's empty and can do no harm." that he further said when the handcuffs were being put on, "You need not do that, I'll go quietly."  That when the sheriff asked him if he knew what he had done, he said he did.  That he also asked to go back and see his wife, and next day in jail, when asked why he did not shoot his wife, he said: "I did not intend to harm her."


Dr. Herdman admitted that persons suffering from transitory mania did not select their victims, but this was not inconsistent with his firing five times in one direction at an object within his attention, when the seizure occurred.  The conversations reported were strong indications of consciousness.

Dr. Emerson, on cross-examination, admitted that the rapid aging of the defendant, his sleeplessness nights, his starting when touched, his avoidance of his friends and great change in personal appearance, indicated great mental disturbance, and might be the ground for an attack of transitory mania, making it possible.  On cross-examination the celebrated Hamburger case leaped into prominence.


"Did you not testify in that case, doctor," asked Mr. Sawyer, "that in your opinion the defendant was perfectly sane, and is it not true that he is insane today, violently insane?"

Dr. Emerson protested to the court against being compelled to say anything about the Hamburger case or his connection therewith.  But the court permitted several answers.  Dr. Emerson protested stoutly that whatever may have subsequently occurred he still believes Hamburger was sane when he committed the crime.

Adrian, Mich., Feb. 5.-- All previous crowds dwindled into insignificance in comparison with the ones drawn today by the arguments in the Farrington trial. Each side was given four hours' time. The prosecutor consumed but 50 minutes in his opening, however, leaving himself over three hours in which to reply to the distinguished array of counsel upon the other side. Clarke E. Baldwin opened for defense, occupying an hour; Congressman Henry C, Smith followed, taking an hour and 30 minutes. This consumed the whole of the morning session.

A. J. Sawyer began the afternoon session with an hour and a half before him. He had taken cold the day before, and was hardly able to speak aloud when he began.

In his opening the prosecutor defined murder in its two degrees and manslaughter. He also severely criticized the defense of transitory mania or emotional insanity. Mr. Baldwin emphasized the legitimacy of this defense, and reviewed the testimony somewhat, to show how strong the evidences were from the testimony of the officers that Farrington did for a time seem to lose his memory. Congressman Smith spoke particularly of Farrington's deep sleep in the jail after the crime, as supporting the theory of transitory mania.

The argument of Mr. Sawyer would have been an hour longer had his voice permitted. In spite of the serious disability under which he labored, however, he made a powerful impression upon the court room crowded with spectators.  His argument was unexpected in many respects. He urged strongly upon the jury that the killing of Hooker by Farrington was justified under, the laws of God and the state, and that Farrington was not mentally responsible for his actions.

On the subject of the justifiability of the act, he declared that it was permitted under the ancient Jewish law for a man to slay another caught in adultery with his wife; that it was a recognized right under the laws of England up to the time of Charles II, and that there had never been a statute passed abridging the right in this country or this state. He argued that no legislature could be assembled in this state that would pass a statute making it a crime for a man to slay a man caught in adultery with his wife.

Mr. Sawyer then presented the case of transitory mania, insisting that the two experts had agreed in the existence of the disease and on its peculiarities. He disposed of the theory of the prosecution that Farrington had come to Adrian intending to commit this crime by showing how perfectly consistent with the intention of dealing honestly and keeping within the law Farrington's conduct was up to the shooting. In conclusion he made a very pathetic appeal for the liberty of the defendant.

Nothing the jury could do, he said, would help the woman in the case who had made herself an outcast, nor help Hooker, who has gone before a court where he faces the judge who never errs; but they were entitled to say to this man, "Go free, the acts were not your acts."

There were many tearful eyes about the court room when he concluded his peroration. Immediately afterward the court took a recess. Mr. Sawyer spoke an hour and 45 minutes.

Adrian, Mich., Feb. 6.- This morning Prosecutor Sampson finished the argument for the people and the case was given to the jury.


Charles Howlett of the township of Ypsilanti, who died Dec. 17. '01. has by his will offered for probate bequeathed to his wife the use of his estate during her natural life. To his daughters, May Gunsolly and E. Elizabeth Row of Plymouth the sum of $500 each, payable within one year after the death of his wife. To his son, Fred Howlett, he gives the residue of his estate after the gifts have been satisfied. Horatio Buchan is nominated as executor. The estate is estimated at $3,000. The will is witnessed by D. C. Griffin and C. E. King.


"Butch" Ely Tuesday afternoon was sentenced in the Ionia court by the judge to three and a half years in the Jackson prison for burglary. This was his second trial. On the first the jury could not agree, the jury standing 10 to 2 for acquittal. Tuesday the jury was only out about half an hour when they found him guilty. He was arrested Sent. 29 by Officers George Isbell, Bert Gillen and George Kelsey at his mother's house on the North Side. They found him under a feather bed, his mother lying on top of it. The officers were all in Ionia as witnesses.