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100 years ago in North Idaho: Jury finds former Wallace mayor not guilty of murder

A Wallace, Idaho, jury found Herman J. Rossi, former Wallace mayor, not guilty of murder, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Oct. 14, 1916. (Spokane Daily Chronicle)
A Wallace, Idaho, jury found Herman J. Rossi, former Wallace mayor, not guilty of murder, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Oct. 14, 1916. (Spokane Daily Chronicle)

From our archives, 100 years ago

A Wallace, Idaho, jury deliberated for less than an hour before finding Herman J. Rossi, former Wallace mayor, not guilty of murder.

The case went before the jury at about 12:20 p.m. By 1:30 p.m., Rossi was “out of jail and headed down the street, the recipient of congratulations from citizens.”

The facts of the killing were hardly in dispute. Rossi admitted he tracked down Clarence Dahlquist in a hotel lobby and fired a revolver at him.

However, the jury clearly agreed with the defense counsel’s assertion that Rossi was provoked into the act and was not in his right mind. Rossi had returned home from a business trip to discover that Dahlquist had supplied Rossi’s young, alcoholic wife with liquor and had spent “two nights and a day” with her at the Rossi home.

The defense asserted that Rossi was so emotionally affected that he was temporarily insane. The prosecution scoffed at that argument, saying Rossi “killed a man under such conditions that it was murder … there was no element of self-defense or justification.”

A correspondent in Wallace reported that people on the street were strongly sympathetic with Rossi – and so, evidently, were all of the jury members, who voted unanimously for acquittal on the first ballot.

Rossi, “pale and careworn from his imprisonment,” thanked each of the jury members and shook hands with them.

There were rumors in town that Rossi and his wife would “patch up their differences,” but Rossi’s lawyer said that “people can rest assured that Herman Rossi is through with that woman.”

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