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Sunday, March 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: McDonalds acquitted of murder, arrested on new charges

The Chronicle described the new complaints as the equivalent of a “bomb” set off in the camp of the defending attorneys. (Spokane Daily Chronicle)
The Chronicle described the new complaints as the equivalent of a “bomb” set off in the camp of the defending attorneys. (Spokane Daily Chronicle)

A jury declared three McDonald siblings not guilty of murdering W.H. McNutt – but they weren’t free for long.

Deputies immediately rearrested Fay and Marie McDonald on charges of forgery, relating to a check they allegedly stole from McNutt, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported. They also arrested Ted McDonald on charges of grand larceny, relating to McNutt’s car, which was found in their possession.

The day had started out well for the siblings. When the jury read the verdict at 10 a.m., the three smiled and held each other’s hands. Marie burst into tears of relief.

The exhilaration of their acquittal had barely faded when they went to the sheriff’s office to retrieve their possessions. There they were promptly rearrested on the new warrants. “Consternation and chagrin” ensued, according to the Chronicle.

The Chronicle described the new complaints as the equivalent of a “bomb” set off in the camp of the defending attorneys. The stunned attorneys argued for a reduction in the siblings’ bonds, which were set at $2,000 each. Justice Stocker reduced the bonds of Marie and Fay to $1,000, but kept Ted’s at $2,000.

The new charges stemmed from issues that had already been brought up in the murder trial. The prosecution alleged that the McDonalds took the check from McNutt after he was murdered and tried to cash it with a forged endorsement. The prosecution also alleged that the McDonalds used McNutt’s car after his death to flee the state and drive to Oregon and later California.

Despite their new legal challenges, all three expressed great relief at the verdict. Fay said, “A great weight has been lifted from us.” McNutt’s widow described the verdict as “disheartening.” The jury members refused to discuss their decision with reporters.

Murder charges stood against Will McDonald, who was still at large and who the other siblings blamed for the murder.

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