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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Judge allows jury to drink alleged whisky to determine if woman violated prohibition laws

A jury returned with a half-empty bottle of whisky and a verdict of not guilty in a liquor violation case against Margaret Mahanna, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 16, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A jury returned with a half-empty bottle of whisky and a verdict of not guilty in a liquor violation case against Margaret Mahanna, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on March 16, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

A Superior Court jury was hearing a liquor violation case against Margaret Mahanna, who was accused of owning a trunk containing 72 pint bottles of whisky.

However, her attorney moved to dismiss the charges, because he said there was no proof that the bottles even contained whisky.

Her attorney suggested that there was one way to find out. He asked that the jury members be allowed to retire to the jury room with one of the pint bottles and conduct a taste test. Judge Huneke agreed.

The jury returned with a half-empty bottle of whisky – and a verdict of not guilty.

From the murder beat: Former fire captain J.F. Grant, on trial for murdering Walter Layman, offered up a new explanation for his actions on the night of the shooting. He said he had been recruited as a “special policeman” to track down Layman and capture him as an escaped convict.

He said he knew his wife had been consorting with Layman, and knew that Layman was operating a bootlegging house and “crooks’ hangout.” Grant claimed he was tailing Layman and not his wife, although he was not surprised to find them together. He said he assumed they were going to “pass the night” together, as they had been doing.

However, he claimed he did not purposely shoot Layman during the confrontation in a dark intersection.

He said he was grappling with his wife. She “had me by the coat and pulled my hand” and his gun went off accidentally.

Grant claimed he didn’t even know that Layman was hit, because his “hands were full” of his angry wife.

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