Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America's Heartland
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Sentenced to Penitentiary for Life--Prisoner Receives the Sad News in Half Fainting Condition.

INDIANOLA, April 11.-- (Special.) -- Mrs. Margaret Hossack must pay the penalty for the murder of her husband. The jury has just now returned a verdict of guilty as charged in the indictment. Judge Gamble has sentenced her to the penitentiary for life. The court room was packed when it was reported the jury had reached a conclusion and was ready to make known the fate of Margaret Hossack. The latter sat calmly in her seat, the rigid expression which she had carried all through the trial, changing to that of earnest expectation of either good or evil news. Slowly the twelve men filed to their seats in the jury box. The foreman delivered the verdict to the bailiff, who handed it to the clerk. The latter stood erect. A death-like silence pervaded the room.

"We, the jury, find the defendant, Mrs. Margaret Hossack, guilty as charged in the indictment," he read.

The silence continued several seconds giving way to a low murmur plainly audible around the court room.

The aged prisoner sat looking helpless and in a sort of dazed condition at the clerk. Then, suddenly seeming to realize the meaning of the verdict, she sank back in her chair and for the first time during the long and trying ordeal, gave completely away to her feelings.

She was surrounded by her friends whose sobbing could be heard through the hall and into the open court yard, continuing until Sheriff Hodson led the prisoner back to the jail awaiting final judgment. Senator Berry announced that he would move for a new trial.

The case went to the jury unexpectedly last night at 6 o'clock. Attorney McNeil had intended to continue his address until 10 o'clock today but suddenly, shortly before 5 o'clock last evening, he collapsed from the continued exertion and rested the case. The effect of his appeal for a conviction was great.

Judge Gamble's instructions were read at 5:30 and the jury retired to deliberate at 6 o'clock. The instructions were generally regarded as favorable to a conviction. Judge Gamble's instructions to the jury follow:

Judge Gamble's Instructions.

In no case is it necessary, in order to establish a criminal charge against defendant, that there should be direct proof of her guilt by witnesses who were present and saw her commit the crime. In criminal, as well as in civil cases, the evidence may be, and frequently is, not direct, but circumstantial. In fact in criminal cases the guilt of the defendant if shown at all, is most generally shown by the latter kind of evidence; that is to say, but the proof of such facts and circumstances as establish her guilt, and when evidence in a case consists of a chain of well authenticated circumstances, it is often more convincing and satisfactory and gives a stronger ground of assurance of the defendant's guilt than the direct testimony of witness unconfirmed by circumstances.

To justify the inference of guilt on circumstantial evidence show the facts proven from which it is asked that the guilt of the defendant be inferred, must be consistent with each other, and such circumstances must not only clearly point to her guilt, but they must be incompatible with her innocence; that is to say they must be incapable of explanation on any other reasonable supposition than that of her guilt. But as against consistent and well authenticated circumstances plainly indicating the guilt of a defendant, the supposition which would entitle her to an acquittal must be reasonable, and arise out of and be founded on the evidence in the case, and it must not arise out of or be founded on any fact or state of facts which by probability might have existed, but of which there is no proof.

When conviction by a jury is sought on circumstantial evidence alone, before a verdict of guilty can be reached, the jury must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime charged has been committed by some one in the manner and form as charged in the indictment. It is further incumbent upon the prosecution to establish that the facts and circumstances relied upon are true and that such facts and circumstances are not only consistent with the defendant's guilt, but also that they are inconsistent with any other reasonable hypothesis or supposition than guilt. It is not sufficient that such circumstances are consistent with and point to her guilt, but to warrant a conviction upon such evidence alone. The facts and circumstances proven must not only be in harmony with the guilt of the accused, but they must be of such a character that they cannot reasonably be true in the ordinary nature of things and the person accused be innocent.

You should bring into consideration the evidence your every day common sense and judgment as reasonable men, and make those just and reasonable inferences from circumstances proven, which the guarded judgment of a reasonable man would ordinarily make under like circumstances; and those just and reasonable inferences and deductions which you, as reasonable men, would ordinarily draw from facts and circumstances proven in the case you should draw and act on as jurors; and if, on a consideration of the whole evidence before you, you then have no reasonable doubt, as in these instructions defined, as to the guilt of the defendant, you should convict her; but if you then entertain such a doubt, you should acquit her.

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