Saturday, December 10, 2011

Murder (Pt. 2) Most Obscure

"Cincinnati had the distinction of being referred to in the daily press and magazines as “corrupt and contented,” “the worst governed city in the United States”…The police were thoroughly demoralized:
Their connection with the depraved elements, streetwalkers and drug peddlers, bootleggers, and roughs was notorious. “Intercession” with judges and prosecutors occupied a large part of the bosses’ time. Bonds were signed and bail given for criminals.”

--Clara Longworth DeChambrun, Cincinnati, 1939

“Once, as a fledgling lawyer, I thought it would be nice to be a judge, so off I went to see Nicholas Longworth…and his associate Rudolph Hynicka, then Chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Central Committee. The interview lasted even less time than it takes me to write about it here. The men impressed me tremendously especially Mr. Longworth with his high, stiff collar and glistening bald dome…”Much too young,” they murmured politely, and there I was, back out on the street. I have since been offered certain political offices, but no. My association with politics was over.”

--William Foster Hopkins, Murder is my Business, 1970

The following documents were discovered together in an old, locked file in the archive of the Clerk of Courts at the Hamilton County Courthouse:

Witness affidavit signed one day after the shooting by the victim's wife, not recorded as present at the crime scene.

A blank murder arrest warrant...

“Edward Black….was bound over to the grand jury without bond by Municipal Court Judge Joseph H. Woeste yesterday. Black waived examination.”

--Cincinnati Enquirer, June 19, 1929

The grand jury finding, July 16, 1929

Black enters a 'not guilty' plea and is assigned Public Defenders L.P. Lake and W.F. Hopkins on September 21, 1929.

The indictment, September 23, 1929

Surprisingly, to a modern eye, Hopkins requests Judge Morrow subpoena character witnesses Joseph Henry Gest, president of the Rookwood Pottery, John D. Wareham, head of the pottery's decorating department and (possible Rookwood employee or friend to Black) Otto Metzner, son of Hamilton Tile Works legend Adolph Metzner one day before the trial date of November 21, 1929.

(No record of the trial proceedings exists according to the Hamilton County Clerk's office.)

“After four and a half hours’ deliberation a jury last night declared Edward Black, 45, former fireman and watchman at Rookwood Pottery, guilty of manslaughter…in self-defense, he said, he fired five shots from a .25 automatic. Two of them [bullets] entered Smith’s heart, two just above his heart and one entered his head…They found the package to contain cups and saucers belonging to the pottery.”
--Cincinnati Commercial-Tribune, November 22, 1929

“He fired six shots into Smith’s body in self-defense, he insisted. According to the theory of the state, Black and Smith had an argument that morning and it was alleged Black waited for Smith and shot him. Black was defended by Attorney W.F. Hopkins, while Lewis Levy, Assistant County Prosecutor, handled the prosecution for the state.”
--Cincinnati Enquirer, November 22, 1929

“The two men had an argument following several thefts of vases from the plant.”
--Cincinnati Post, November 22, 1929

“Judge Thomas H. Morrow of Criminal Court will pass sentence, Saturday, on Edward Black…on the charge of manslaughter by a jury late Thursday.
Black had beem indicted on a second degree murder charge…Prosecutor Louis Levy charged that Black had waited for Smith, following and argument, and shot him five times. Black contended that he stopped Smith while the latter was carrying pottery out of the plant and then shot him in self-defense when Smith threatened him.”

--Cincinnati Times-Star, November 22, 1929

Note: The Cincinnati Police Department Homicide Division did not begin keeping records until January 1930.

Images: Cincinnati Public Library, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts, Private Collection

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