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Sunday, March 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Sensational charge rocks McNutt murder trial

The Spokane Daily Chronicle said the trial — one of the most sensational in Spokane’s history — was attracting large crowds and many people had to wait outside. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
The Spokane Daily Chronicle said the trial — one of the most sensational in Spokane’s history — was attracting large crowds and many people had to wait outside. (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

Defense attorneys for the McDonald siblings, who were on trial for killing W.H. McNutt, made a sensational charge: The murder victim had been brutal to Marie McDonald and had choked her and threatened to throw her down a fire escape.

One woman testified she had witnessed an earlier quarrel between the two in the Wolverine lodging house stairway and that McNutt “had an ugly look on his face,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported. She said Fay McDonald then appeared from another doorway and said, “If he hits my sister, I will fix him with this hammer.”

The witness said she had once run into McNutt, who said he was searching for Marie.

“He said he wanted to settle some business with her,” said the witness. “I told him she did not want to see him because she was afraid of him.”

This witness said Marie McDonald had vowed “to quit” McNutt as soon as she could make a new start.

A Chronicle reporter noted McNutt’s widow was in the courtroom and that she was “visibly distressed during the testimony relating to McNutt’s conduct toward Marie McDonald.”

Fay McDonald was seen to cry at one point in the day’s testimony, and Marie McDonald reportedly “displayed a lively interest in every bit of testimony.”

The Chronicle said the trial – one of the most sensational in Spokane’s history – was attracting large crowds and many people had to wait outside.

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