Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland
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Tries to Show Secret Enemy Doped
The Dog and Murdered the
Farmer--Prosecution Confident.

INIDIANOLA, April 6.--The defense in the Hossack murder trial had its first inning today. Thus far it has disclosed little important evidence. The entire forenoon was consumed in hearing witnesses in favor of Mrs. Hossack. The principal object seemed to be to show that the dog at the Hossack home was drugged the night of the murder by some unknown and secret enemy and that the murder was committed by this man or men. It is also the evident purpose of the defense to show that John Hossack did not state that he had some great secret with his wife which none other but God knew, but that instead he stated that he alone knew the secret. It will then be advanced the secret pertained to any enemy. Much of the evidence of the defense was to show that the location of the blood spots in the room were such that the blow must have been struck by some one standing at the foot of the bed who had entered through the window.

The prosecution still maintains a degree of confidence that can only be warranted by the knowledge of some evidence of the utmost importance not yet introduced, and which will not be disclosed until the testimony in rebuttal is begun. Those who appear to have some inkling of the nature of this testimony declare it will result either in conviction or a hung jury.

The theory of the prosecution, judging from present indications, will be that if Mrs. Hossack did not commit the crime, she was at least an accessory. This is strengthened by the fact that no testimony has been produced to show that the murdered man had an enemy or serious quarrel with any one other than his wife.

The prosecution will take the position that even if the dog was drugged, it was either done by the defendant or some one with her knowledge. It will also endeavor to show that the blow must have been struck by Mrs. Hossack or some one standing on the rug by the side of the bed, owing to the position of the blood spots on the wall; that after the blows were struck, the murderer walked out through the door into the kitchen, thence onto the porch and out into the back yard, the trail of blood being caused by the dripping axe.

Matt Kerr took the stand. He testified as knowing the murdered man for twenty-five years and Mrs. Hossack for ten or fifteen years. That on December 18, last, he was in the house and in the room where Hossack was killed. That he saw blood on the walls and stated specifically that he saw blood on the east wall, but was not certain as to which side of the door into the sitting room he noticed the spots.

Described the Blood Spots.

L. B. Himstreet was next sworn. He stated that Hossack was a man of average physical strength. That he was at their house on the day of the murder about 4 o'clock, but did not go into the room where the dead man lay and did not see the body, but came back Monday evening and went in the room and made examination as to the blood spots.He said he found blood on the walls of the rooms; that on the 18th of December he was again at the house and made careful examination of the bedroom. He said he saw blood stains on the east side of the wall, about where the lock would be on the door; that he noticed three spots on the casing of the door and several more on the wall.

When questioned as to whether he had seen any blood on the south wall he stated that he did and that it was a little above the headboard of the bed and that he also saw blood on the north wall about two feet above the footboard of the bed. Also on the west wall, and that it all looked as though it had been splattered.

This testimony was given under direct examination by the defense. On cross examination by Attorney McNeil the witness corrected himself as to there being blood on the south wall. Court adjourned at 12 o'clock and will convene Monday at 9 o'clock.

When the court convened this morning at 9 o'clock the prosecution announced that it had no further evidence to submit and that it rested its case. The first witness for the defense, Dr. J. S. Parr, was sworn. In answer to questions as to which was the most sensitive part of the brain, he stated that the lower portion immediately over the spinal column, known as the medulia oblongata, was most delicate; that the portion directly above this, known as the cerebellum, was next in sensibility, and the the cerebrum, the upper portion of the brain was least sensitive.

When asked if in his opinion a man injured as the murdered man would be liable to talk at any time after receiving the injury, he said that if he did talk it would be immediately after being hurt, and that he did not believe it possible a man so injured would talk at all. His testimony was along the same line as that of Dr. McClary who testified yesterday.

W.S. Anderson was the second witness sworn. His evidence pertained entirely to the condition of the dog as he saw him the day of the murder. He stated that he knew the dog and had known him six or seven years; that when he heard the dog on the morning of the day following the murder, the dog appeared to be dumpish; that he walked about slowly, and that when he met another dog on the place he took no notice of him, which was not his wonted treatment of strange dogs. He said that the dog always barked when strange people came on the place when he first knew him.

The next witness was Donald Murchison, who said he was a brother of Mrs. Hossack; that he had known John Hossack since 1866; that Mr. Hossack married his sister in his home in Illinois, and that he did not see them after they came to Iowa until after twenty years. He said he reached the Hossack home on the day following the murder; that he saw the dog about the yard and that his attention was attracted to him by his peculiar actions; that he asked what was the matter with the dog and was told that the dog did not bark on the night of the murder.

Willie Hossack next took the stand. He testified that he was present when the shirt was found in the bucket, but would not identify the shirt on exhibition as the one. He said that at the time of the talk of separation between his father and mother he had advised his mother to separate. He said he saw the dog the day after the killing, and also on the night of the tragedy; that shortly after getting up he had gone out to get a bucket of coal and that as he was afraid to go alone he called the dog, but that the dog would not come, and that he found the dog lying on the porch. He said he tried to make the dog get up, but failed.

John Hossack was next sworn. He said he had seen the dog about 5 o'clock in the morning. He said Will called his attention to the way the dog had acted, and that he went out and saw him sleeping on the porch. When he spoke to the dog it paid no attention to him. He took him by the head and lifted him up, and when he let go the dog dropped back again into the same position he had occupied. He said he knew nothing about the shirt until it was discovered in the bucket. When the shirt was shown him by the attorney he identified it as being the shirt taken out of the bucket.

Denied the Conversation.

In reference to the testimony of Frank Keller, given yesterday, to the effect that the murdered man had stated in his presence on Thanksgiving day in 1889 that there was a secret between Margaret, himself and his God which no one knew anything about and which would go to his grave with him, a number of witnesses were introduced this morning to show no such statement was made by the murdered man.

Mrs. Louie Kemp, Cassie Hossack and Fred Johnston stated that no such remark had been made by Mr. Hossack in the conversation with Keller, and which they claimed to have overheard; and which they stated was as follows: That Mr. Hossack said he had many secrets which no one knew anything about, and which would go with him to the grave; and that in a subsequent conversation held on the same day he did say that there had been some family trouble between himself and his wife relative to the bringing up the children, and that it was this trouble he referred to as being the secret.

At the adjournment of court yesterday afternoon the prosecution abruptly announced it rested its case. The possibility of its doing so had been anticipated and the court room held the largest number of spectators yet in attendance at any session since the trial began last Monday. When the noon adjournment was taken every evidence pointed to the prosecution having made out its case. At the close of the afternoon session it was admitted the last of the expert evidence introduced had shattered, if it had not completely destroyed, the effect upon the jury of preceding testimony, and that the prosecution was now dependent upon such incriminating evidence as it could deduce from cross examination of defendant's witnesses to convict the accused woman.

The expert testimony of the morning had proved most disastrous to the theory of the defense. Dr. E. Porterfield and Dr. L. H. Surber had testified in unequivocal terms that the probability of a man speaking within a period of thirty minutes after the assault, who had sustained injuries about the head similar to those [that] caused the death of the murdered [man] was so small as to make his doing so almost an impossibility.

Had the prosecution rested its case here, satisfied with what they had already established, the work of the defense would have been much more difficult.

Mrs. Himstreet testified that Mrs. Hossack told her that Mr. Hossack had retired at 8 o'clock on the fatal night; that he got up again, smoked his pipe and retired for the second time. That she, Mrs. Hossack, went to bed about 10 o'clock and went to sleep.

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