Salt Lake Tribune
18 June 1914
JURY IS SWORN
TO TRY HILLSTROM
Alleged Slayer of J. G. Mor-
rison Faces Men Who
Will Decide His Fate.
Judge Rebukes Counsel for
Defense for Methods of
Ernest K. Alder, teamster.
Joseph Kimball, real estate dealer.
H. C. McDonough, collector.
Rudolph Boss, farmer.
H. E. Thomas, laborer.
John Garbett, coal dealer.
T. J. Owen, motorman.
Robert McDowell, salesman.
Joseph M. Green, farmer.
Fred R. Robinson, blacksmith.
George E. Nichols, contractor.
Taking of evidence in the trial of Joseph Hillstrom, charged with the murder of J. G. Morrison, began yesterday afternoon in the district court, the twelfth juror having been obtained and sworn in just at noon. He is George E. Nichols, a contractor, and is the product of a three-day exacting search for the twelfth man in the jury box.
Just before the last juror was obtained Judge M. L. Ritchie denounced the methods of counsel for the defense in questioning perspective jurymen. He declared that the keenest of men or the most impartial could be confused and forced to answer unsatisfactorily by the “metaphysical subtleties of counsel.”
The defense had asked that John Q. Ryan be dismissed from the jury box after having been examined for more than an hour. The defense could not remove him by peremptory challenge, having exhausted the allowed fifteen challenges, so they asked that he be challenged for cause.
The court replied that he would excuse Ryan because of the unsatisfactory answers he had made to the highly involved and complex questions of the defense, but he declared that until Ryan had been drawn into a confused state of mind by the questions of counsel, he gave every indication of being a fair and impartial juror. Continuing his remarks, the court denounced as absurd the system of examining jurors in murder trials. “If counsel can take the whole morning in subtle questioning of one prospective juror, then I see no reason why he should not be allowed to take a whole day or a whole week or month, for that matter,” the court said. “The line must be drawn somewhere.”
“Counsel asks a question he desires to be answered in a certain way. It is propounded in such a way that the juror answers no other answer but the one desired. The answer looks bad on paper and appears to be ground for challenging the juror, but, as a matter of fact, it does not represent his state of mind, but only the state of mind of the questioning attorney.”
The court spoke in general terms and remarked that he was not particularly referring to counsel in the present case.
The remarks of the judge apparently were productive of results, for the twelfth juror was obtained a few minutes later.
Opening statements to the jury by the state and the defense occupied most of the afternoon session.
Attorney E. D. McDougall of the defense declared that it would be shown to the satisfaction of the jury just how Hillstrom received the bullet wound in his breast, for which he was treated the night of the murder of Morrison. It was the bullet wound that led to Hillstrom’s arrest, the authorities knowing that young Arlin Morrison shot one of the robbers before he, too, was murdered.
Hillstrom has maintained that he was shot in a quarrel over a woman. He has refused to give the mane of the woman because, he said, to do so would impeach her honor. The defense did not say whether or not the woman would be produced at the trial.
Claims of State.
E. O. Leatherwood, the district attorney, said the state would endeavor to prove that the defendant was the taller of the two men who entered the Morrison grocery store on West Temple street near Eighth South street the night of January 10 last and murdered Morrison and his young son. It would be shown, he said, that the boy, before he was murdered, wounded one of the highwaymen, and that as the men ran from the store the taller one was heard to exclaim. “Oh, Bob, I’m shot.” The state will also prove, he said, that Hillstrom was treated for a gunshot wound in the chest a few hours after the murder, and that when he was being treated he refused to tell how he received the wound.
The first witness called was Harry A. Ruger, a deputy in the office of the county surveyor, who produced maps of the store where the murder occurred. R. H. Seager, a deputy sheriff, testified to having attempted to serve a summons on Dr. H. R. Sprague, who examined the holes of the highwaymen’s victims, and said the physician was out of the state. On this showing a transcript of the testimony of Dr. Sprague at the preliminary hearing was allowed to be read into the record.