1908: A murder trial ends in death
In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society.Taylor says being dogged, houndedDeclares he is an Honest Man and Proud of his Record”I am an honest man and I am proud of my record.”John L. Taylor, on trial in the district court on a charge of murdering his wife in Coal Basin on July 19, 1907, made the foregoing statement to a representative of the Times yesterday morning just after Mrs. Louise Hadden, a sister of the dead woman, had testified about Taylor’s conduct toward his wife.”I am being hounded and dogged by people who have taken a grudge against me,” Taylor said. “They are trying to put up a job on me all the way around. My wife and I lived happily together and I never threatened her life. Her folks did all they could to cause her to separate from me.”Taylor said that everybody was against him, but that he would prove his innocence before the trial was concluded. “They can never prove that I killed her because I didn’t, and they can’t prove what I did not do.”The prosecution weaved its net of circumstantial evidence closer and closer around Taylor yesterday, but there has not been any direct evidence submitted that Taylor did the killing. The prosecution is relying on the threats made by Taylor that he would kill his wife, of her constantly expressed fear that he could kill her and on the circumstances immediately surrounding the killing. (Jan. 25)Taylor May Be Tried In GlenwoodJudge Rucker and District Attorney Gentry Agree on It.John Taylor will not be tried in Aspen again. The next trial will be held in Glenwood Springs and all the witnesses from this city will have to go there. The case was set for trial in the district court in Aspen March 18 and already Irving Everett had begun to subpoena witnesses to appear here on March 24, six days being allowed to make up the jury. But if Judge Shumate approves of the arrangement made, the case will be tried either in March or April in Glenwood Springs, where Taylor is now confined in the county jail for safe keeping. Judge Rucker went to Glenwood Springs a day or two ago and Mr. Gentry, the district attorney, then agreed to allow the case to be tried the second time in Garfield county … There is such prejudice here against Taylor, too, it would be far better to have the trial in another county. That is what Taylor wanted from the first. (Feb. 29)”I Am An Innocent Man,” TaylorJohn L. Taylor Wrote These Words on Back of Baby’s Photograph “I am an innocent man.”These words were written on the back of his baby’s picture by John L. Taylor a few hours before he committed suicide. Two pictures of his little boy had been given to him by his sister from which he was to choose one. On the back of one of the pictures he wrote: “Shun those people that were the cause of your mother’s death.”On another picture he wrote: “I am an innocent man and have been wronged. BE a good boy.” So far as is known, Taylor left no other written statements …Taylor was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to serve 20 to 30 years in the state penitentiary hard labor. It was only ten or twelve hours after the sentence had been passed. (April 25)
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