February 16, 2011 in City

Jim Kershner’s This day in history » On the Web: spokesman.com/topics/local-history

By The Spokesman-Review

From our archives, 100 years ago

William Jefferson, a black soldier from Fort George Wright accused of murder in a street brawl, took the stand to give his version of the story.

Jefferson said he and a fellow soldier were walking down Front Avenue (now Spokane Falls Boulevard) one night when they met some men who asked the soldiers for a dime.

When the soldiers wouldn’t give them a dime, the men called the soldiers names and started to hurl rocks at them. Jefferson said he ran behind a wood pile on the corner and he heard one man say, “Come on Perry, ye’ll get the black –-.”

One of them came toward him with an upraised brick in his hand. So Jefferson said he picked up a 4-foot wooden club and swung it at the man’s head.

“I was afraid he would kill me and I hit him,” testified Jefferson.

The state’s witnesses, on the other hand, testified that Jefferson rushed out and struck the victim, who had not been part of the rock-throwing incident and knew nothing about it.

Two days later, the jury convicted Jefferson of manslaughter – the lightest verdict short of acquittal – and recommended a lenient sentence.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1968: The nation’s first 911 emergency telephone system was inaugurated, in Haleyville, Ala.

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