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

100 years ago in Spokane: Differing account in midwife’s murder trial

 (Spokesman-Review archives)

The first day of testimony in the second-degree murder trial of Dr. Mary Swartz, midwife, offered starkly different versions of the events which caused the death of Fay Hamilton, 17.

Dr. James Sutherland said that he arrived at Hamilton’s home and found her “in a dying condition.” He talked to her for about 15 minutes and she gave a “dying statement.”

She told him that she had gone to Swartz, who performed an operation. She said she felt “alright when I went to Dr. Swartz, and felt pretty sick when I went home.” Another doctor came to see her and “put stuff in my arm and put me to sleep.” She added that Swartz “knew what she was doing.”

However, other testimony cast doubt that the operation – allegedly an abortion – was the cause of the girl’s death.

The county coroner said that he determined the cause of death to be blood poisoning. He said a post-mortem “failed to show evidence that an operation had been performed.”

The trial was continuing.