Ernest Schlenker did not deny that he shot George E. McMonagle in the middle of the road near Kiesling, Washington.
Yet during the murder trial, Schlenker insisted that he shot in self-defense after McMonagle advanced toward him in a threatening manner, following an encounter in which each refused to yield the right of way on a road.
A Spokane jury agreed and set Schlenker free. “All evidence in the case pointed to the dead man as the aggressor in the controversy which led up to the shooting,” said the Spokane Daily Chronicle.
In fact, the two neighbors had been feuding for years, at first over petty disputes and later over more serious affairs. Schlenker said that he started carrying a revolver wherever he went because he feared McMonagle would attack him.
Several witnesses, including the dead man’s 10-year-old son, testified that McMonagle advanced on Schlenker, who was sitting in his wagon.
“Papa asked him to stay off the road and Mr. Schlenker said he wouldn’t,” testified the boy. “Then papa started to get off the wagon and took off his coat and hat and handed me his glasses. Mr. Schlenker picked up his revolver from the seat of the wagon and fired one shot. Papa told him he would have him arrested, and Mr. Schlenker said, ‘Go ahead.’ He fired another shot before papa got close to the wagon, but papa kept on going and then Mr. Schlenker shot again and papa fell down.”
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