This week’s story starts out with a dog bite and escalates to the point that the President of the United States gets involved.
It was Sept. 14, 1910 when two deer hunters named Kibbe and Hillpot stopped into Tuttle’s Station in eastern Arizona to get supplies. Two men named Stewart and Goodwin managed the store. While there a dog belonging to manager Stewart bit hunter Hillpot. In response Hillpot kicked the dog. An argument ensued, but tempers seemed to cool down.
The next day the hunters returned to Tuttle’s Station to spend the night. Following supper, without warning, manager Goodwin pulled his pistol and shot hunter Kibbe, killing him instantly. At the same time, manager Stewart shot hunter Hillpot.
The two killers took the hunters’ horses and their other possessions and ran. A manhunt ensued and in less than two weeks the men were captured. The men were tried and sentenced to life in prison. But this wasn’t the end of the story.
Thanking he could get a better deal for them, their lawyer filed an appeal stating that the crime took place on an Indian reservation, and it should be tried in a federal court. He won the battle, but lost the war. The men got a new trial, but this time the judge sentenced them to be hanged. Still trying his best, the defense lawyer appealed to President Woodrow Wilson for executive clemency. Just hours before they were to be hanged the President ordered a 60-day stay to study the issue.
When the stay expired, nothing was heard from President Wilson and the hanging proceeded. But a new gallows had to be built. Souvenir hunters had taken the old one away piece by piece.
This story has two lessons. The first is how a minor affair can escalate into a major tragedy. The other is that sometimes a lawyer should let well enough alone.