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Tuesday, June 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: At federal trial, prosecutors say former Washington State coach ‘Lone Star’ Dietz was posing as Indian

UPDATED: Tue., June 25, 2019

The government rested its case in the William H. “Lone Star” Dietz trial and in closing arguments called Dietz a fake, an impostor and a “slacker.”

“Is he not the type of man who fought to keep out of the American army?” asked the prosecutor. “When he got on the witness stand and called his dead father licentious and asked his mother to deny his birth, thereby making of himself an illegitimate, did he not show that he was the type, the kind of person slackers are made of?”

Dietz, the former Rose Bowl-winning football coach at Washington State College, was on trial for draft evasion. Dietz claimed on his draft questionnaire that he was a “non-citizen Indian,” but the government argued he was not a Native American at all.

Mrs. Leanna Lewis did indeed deny that she was his mother, claiming that Dietz was the illegitimate child of her husband, a Wisconsin sheriff. The sheriff brought the baby, born to a Native American mother, to his wife to raise while she was still mourning a stillborn child from a few days earlier.

Two witnesses from Wisconsin, however, said they saw Mrs. Lewis two days before she went into labor and again the morning after. They said that the baby, who would grow up to be Lone Star Dietz, was indeed her own baby.

The prosecution warned the jury against believing the “sensational” and “incredulous” stories of the defense. They called Dietz a “rank impostor and a fake,” who claimed he was a Native American when he realized he could “make more money in the Indian business than he could in any other line.”

The defense summed up its case simply: Dietz believed he was telling the truth when he filled out his draft questionnaire and had no intent to deceive the draft board or evade his service. He was employed at the time as the football coach for the U.S. Marines camp at Mare Island, California, and already was using his expertise to serve the military.

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