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Sunday, May 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Jury can’t decide fate of former Washington State Football Coach ‘Lone Star’ Dietz

A jury could not agree if form Washington State football coach William “Lone Star” Dietz was guilty of dodging the draft for World War I, The Spokesman-Review reported on June 26, 1919. The newspaper also reported that J. March Fetters, who recently became the first pilot to fly over the Cascades, had landed in Spokane. Meanwhile, much of the world was awaiting the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. (Spokesman-Review archives)
A jury could not agree if form Washington State football coach William “Lone Star” Dietz was guilty of dodging the draft for World War I, The Spokesman-Review reported on June 26, 1919. The newspaper also reported that J. March Fetters, who recently became the first pilot to fly over the Cascades, had landed in Spokane. Meanwhile, much of the world was awaiting the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The draft evasion trial of famous football coach William H. “Lone Star” Dietz ended in a hung jury after 20 hours of deliberation.

More than a dozen ballots were taken, and most of the jurors were in favor of acquittal. In the end, however, four of the 12 stood firm for conviction, and the jury entered the courtroom with a request for discharge.

Those who stood for acquittal cited the testimony of the U.S. Marine officers from Mare Island, who said they had approved Dietz’s draft questionnaire. Dietz was working at the time as the football coach of the Mare Island training camp. Jurors also believed Dietz when he testified that he believed he was telling the truth about his Native American heritage when he signed the draft questionnaire. Whether he truly had Native American blood or not was not the point – the key question was whether he believed he did when he filled out the questionnaire.

Those who stood for conviction did not believe that Dietz was telling the truth about his heritage. They cited the fact that he claimed to speak the Sioux language, but he only knew one word. Also, he had shown little or no brotherly affection to the woman he claimed was his sister, Sally Eagle Horse, who lived on the Pine Ridge reservation.

The jury was discharged after giving no verdict, but this was not the end of the Lone Star Dietz legal drama. New developments would arise within 24 hours.

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