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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Defense of man accused of murdering hotel landlady raises suspicions about hotel tenant

Gawkers filled the courtroom to capacity for the murder trial of Robert A. Hood who was accused of murdering hotel landlady Margaret Braun, The Spokesman-Review reported on Jan. 25, 1917. (SR)
Gawkers filled the courtroom to capacity for the murder trial of Robert A. Hood who was accused of murdering hotel landlady Margaret Braun, The Spokesman-Review reported on Jan. 25, 1917. (SR)

Gawkers filled the courtroom to capacity for the murder trial of Robert A. Hood, accused of murdering hotel landlady Margaret Braun — and were rewarded with plenty of sensational testimony.

Hood’s defense attorney accused another man entirely – hotel tenant Charles P. Keller – of killing Braun.

Keller was not one of the two accomplices that police accused of being with Hood during a botched late-night robbery. Keller was a longtime friend of Braun’s who was with her earlier that night.

Keller had opened himself up to suspicion by telling police that he put the ailing Mrs. Braun to bed and then struggled with her when she tried to get out of bed. He said he left her on the floor, still alive.

On the stand, Keller admitted telling that story, but he said he told police anything in an effort to shield himself. He told so many lies he was “not sure what he did say.”

“They just kept at me till they got me crazy,” he said.

When Hood took the stand, he denied he had ever even been inside the Tourist Hotel and said he “did not know any old Margaret.” However, he had a hard time explaining his movements that night — and why a suitcase full of plunder from Braun’s room was in his possession.

Hood’s girlfriend, Vivian Tozier, aka Alaska Vivian, also testified. She denied that Hood bragged about robbing Braun. The nickname? It was because she used to “sing for a charity in Alaska.”

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