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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Montana: Miss Edith Colby headed to prison

From our archives, 100 years ago

Miss Edith Colby was headed to a 10- to 12-year sentence in the penitentiary at Deer Lodge, Montana, after a jury convicted her of second degree murder.

The jury deliberated eight hours. At the beginning, the jury was split. Two jurors favored acquittal (by reason of insanity) and four more were leaning toward a manslaughter conviction. In the end, they were won over by the rest of the jurors, who all favored a second-degree conviction.

When the verdict was announced, Miss Colby showed no emotion, with an expression that suggested “she was content the affair was over for the time being, no difference what the verdict might be.” The correspondent noted that “she has aged markedly during the strain of the trial and her face was careworn.”

The prosecutor was not particularly pleased with the verdict, saying it “should have been first degree.”

One jury member said they had not been “greatly impressed by the demonstrations in the courtroom,” referring to the screaming outbursts of Miss Colby during the trial.

Miss Colby’s attorney insisted that his client simply ran “afoul of a political condition in Sanders County that is simply amazing.” Miss Colby expressed bitterness that her editor and a lawyer friend – both of whom egged her on to the shooting, she said – were not held accountable.

“The men go free, and the woman is to be asked to pay the price,” she said.

The paper noted that “much sympathy has been expressed” for Miss Colby and her mother, who was taken ill during the trial.