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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Prosecutor says wrong teen was convicted in death of fruit grower

Roger Bartelt, 16, had already served six months for the death of A.D. Allison, a Vera fruit grower, but now the prosecutor said the wrong person was behind bars, The Spokesman-Review reported on Aug. 24, 1921.  (Spokesman-Review archives)
Roger Bartelt, 16, had already served six months for the death of A.D. Allison, a Vera fruit grower, but now the prosecutor said the wrong person was behind bars, The Spokesman-Review reported on Aug. 24, 1921. (Spokesman-Review archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

A sensational new development in a Spokane Valley manslaughter case raised the prospect that the wrong boy had been serving time in the state reformatory.

Roger Bartelt, 16, had already served six months for the death of A.D. Allison, a Vera fruit grower. Allison had been walking home from church when he was mowed down by a speeding car containing four teenagers. Bartelt confessed to being the driver and pleaded guilty.

Now, however, the two female passengers had issued affidavits asserting that Ray English, 19, was the driver. According to them, Bartelt suggested at the time that they let him take the blame, and they all went along with it.

However, while serving time in the reformatory, Bartelt became “disgusted” with English, who apparently hadn’t even written to thank him. Bartelt wrote to one of the girls and suggested it might do English good to “do some time.”

The full story came out when Bartelt’s family was sued by the Allison family.

Now, the deputy prosecutor said he was “convinced English drove the car.” He was preparing to charge English with manslaughter, and the governor had been asked to order Bartelt’s release from the reformatory.

On this day

(From the Associated Press)

1814: During the War of 1812, British forces invaded Washington, D.C., setting fire to the Capitol (which was still under construction) and the White House, as well as other public buildings.

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