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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The murder trial of Mitchell Nance, charged with shooting his brother John during a drunken melee in a Mica Peak cabin, got off to a sensational start.

“Uncle Joe” Stratton, 75, who lived next door, testified that Mitchell Nance said to him, “I’m going to take this gun and shoot John with all six of the bullets. And after that, I’m a going to kill two more people up on this hill, and finish up with myself!”

Uncle Joe took the gun away from Mitchell, but Mitchell later came back and said he wanted the gun and all of the cartridges. He grabbed them and left. 

Was Mitchell drunk?

“No, he wasn’t drunk,” Uncle Joe said. “But he had been a-drinking.”

In fact, Uncle Joe said, they had been drinking “around all day.”

Soon afterward, Uncle Joe heard shots from the Nance home.

There were some other fireworks in the courtroom, sparked by the repeated objections from the prosecutor and the defense attorney. An irate Judge Bruce Blake sent the jurors out of the courtroom and dressed down the two lawyers.

“This trial has become nothing less than a brawl,” the judge said. “It is an imposition upon this court and upon the people of this commonwealth, a travesty on justice, and it is going to be stopped.”

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