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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Babe Langer’s defense in murder trial says woman was acting in self-defense

Reporters in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on July 15, 1919, relayed testimony from the pulp novel-esque murder trial of Babe Langer, accused of killing Edmond Haley.
Reporters in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on July 15, 1919, relayed testimony from the pulp novel-esque murder trial of Babe Langer, accused of killing Edmond Haley.

The testimony in the murder trial of Bessie “Babe” Langer, 28, sounded like it came right out of a pulp novel or gangster movie:

  • “I’ll make her weep tears before morning, if she don’t give me back my three pints of whiskey.”
  • “I’m going to get Babe, or I’m going to kill her. I’m not going to wait 10 years, either — I’m going to do it pretty quick.”
  • “I’m going to beat Babe’s brains out with this sap tonight.”

All of these statements were attributed to Edmond Haley, the man Babe Langer was accused of murdering.

Langer’s lawyers said they would prove that Haley had been harassing and threatening Langer for a long time, and that she killed him in self-defense.

She had known him in Butte. He had tried to make her a “fallen woman” after her husband went overseas during the war.

She moved to Spokane and was running a hotel. Haley followed her to Spokane and on the fateful night had broken into her room and tried to kill her, according to several witnesses.

One witness said he heard Langer calling for help, so he broke down the door of her room. He found her in Haley’s grip. He ordered Haley to let Langer go. Haley responded by offering to wring the man’s neck if he tried to interfere again.

Her defense attorney admitted that some of the witnesses were not exactly from the posh part of town — actually, the words he used were “not from Cannon Hill, perhaps.” Some were bootleggers, like Haley. Yet they “speak the truth.”

During this testimony, a reporter described Langer as “extremely nervous.” Yet she was supported by her husband, Jim Langer, who sat behind her in full uniform.

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