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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: The defense attorney moved the courtroom to tears in the Helen Williams murder trial

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
(Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)

The defense attorney for Jennings B. Henry delivered a “heart-rending appeal” that made Henry’s family break into tears – and even made some members of the jury wipe their eyes.

Attorney Harry Kinzel said that the case “holds the most pitiful situation that I have ever confronted in my long practice as an attorney.”

The “situation” was this: Henry was married with several children, all of whom were in the courtroom, yet on the stand he admitted that he loved Helen Williams, the murder victim, and that he “couldn’t help loving her.”

Then Kinzel turned to Henry and said, “You should not have taken Miss Williams home from Natatorium Park, when you were a married man. You should not have continued relations with her and you should not have taken her to your room in the Touraine (Hotel). These things were most indiscreet of you and were not acts of wisdom. But members of the jury, we are not trying Henry for indiscretion.”

Kinzel said the killing was simply a tragic accident.

The prosecutor reiterated his argument that Henry admitted to police he struck at Isaac Selvig with a knife, missed him and fatally slashed Williams.

From the streetcar beat: The city lost its legal battle to force The Washington Water Power Co. to resume streetcar service on the North Division line.

A judge dismissed the city’s motion, saying it did not show “sufficient public necessity” for ordering WWP to restore service.

This was one more skirmish in the long-running war between the city and the two private companies that provided streetcar service throughout the city.

The streetcar companies were losing passengers and money, mainly because of the proliferation of autos and private buses (jitneys).

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