So quick was the jury decision in a November 1962 murder trial, the Toronto judge overseeing the case thought the message delivered to his chambers from the United Counties jury room was a mistake.
It was one of the speediest murder trial decisions ever made by an Ontario jury. A divorce trial that had taken over the court room had to be put on hold so the jury could return with its quick verdict, one that was greeted with loud applause in the packed court room.
The 12-man jury hearing the case of the petite 29-year-old Cornwall mother of four charged with stabbing her 37-year-old husband to death in July 1962 took just 35 minutes to come up with a not guilty verdict. The coffee was still brewing in the jury room. Lunch had been ordered.
Young defence lawyer Barry Wilson argued that his client was a victim of violent domestic abuse. Justice W. D. Parker agreed with the jury decision.
In his charge to the jury, Parker said if the jurors accepted the woman’s story, she could not be found guilty of murder … or manslaughter.”
“Here you have a woman throttled by the throat, beaten in the face and afraid for her life,” the judge told jurors before they headed to the jury room.
The judge noted that evidence showed the victim was in a foul and abusive mood on the night of the stabbing.
“If her testimony is accepted as fact,” the judge told the jury, “the accused is not guilty of murder or manslaughter.”
The jury heard that the intoxicated husband had punched his wife in the face several times and was strangling her when stabbed in the stomach by a butcher knife.
The woman, who took the stand, said she was trying to take the knife away from her husband in the kitchen of the small Lancaster home and feared for her life, a version supported by her elderly father-in-law who said he tried to intervene and that it wasn’t the first time his son had assaulted his much smaller wife.
The couple had moved in with her father-in-law when they couldn’t afford the rent on their Cornwall home.
Former Cornwall neighbours testified that they heard and witnessed the husband, usually when he was drunk, verbally and physically abusing his wife.
Pathologist Dr. John Shannon, a Crown witness, agreed with the defence that it was possible the victim was falling toward the knife in a struggle and that it wasn’t a direct blow by the accused.
Prosecutor R. Percy Milligan accepted the decision and said there would not be an appeal.
The woman, who had spent four months in custody, much of it in the psychiatric hospital in Brockville, was re-united with her four children, aged one to 12.
THIS MONTH CIRCA 1962 – Charlebois Beverage – owned and operated by brothers Florian and Neil Charlebois – opened its new bottling plant at 111 Baldwin Ave. The original plant was destroyed by fire in February. The plant bottled KiK Cola, J. C. Collins and Orange Crush. … Members of the Classical College student council included Rolland Allard, president; Rene Dube, vice-president; Peter Fortier, secretary; David Doiron, Andre Vaillancourt and Gerry Appleton. … Roy Hart, East Side Dairy delivery person for 40 years, retired. His first job at the plant on Race Street was delivering milk to boats tied up in Cornwall Canal. He earned $25 a week and worked seven days a week before being moved to a regular route. He said the biggest change in the business was the transition to delivery trucks from horse-drawn wagons. … City cops were dealing with a rash of car thefts. Since Sept, 14, eight cars, all late model General Motors products, had been stolen. Police suspected professional car thieves were working the city. … Bowlers Tom Lalonde, Russ Hance, Brian Greenwood and Sterling Blue planned an assault the world bowling record of consecutive hours of knocking down pins. The plan was to bowl non-stop for 72 straight hours at Olympia Bowl. … Salem United Church in Summerstown marked its 175thanniversary. … Ontario Transport Minister James Auld planned to introduce legislation that would make car seat belts the law. … Future Cornwall Royals star Ron Ward had three goals and an assist to lead St. Francis de Sales to a 5-2 win over St. Columban’s in Holy Name Juvenile Hockey League play. Brian Boyer and Jean-Guy Campeau also scored. George Fox and Gord Viau had the St. Columban’s goals. … Underdog St. Lawrence High School Saints defeated unbeaten Brockville Collegiate 20-13 in the EOSSA football championship game played in Brockville. Barry Doyle scored the winning TD in overtime. With 15 seconds left in regulation play, Brockville failed to convert the game-tying touchdown. The Saints had plenty of fan support. Ten buses, carrying 400 fans, made the trip to Brockville. … Cornwall Gordon Refrigeration Royals downed Eastview St. Charles 12-2 in an Ottawa Valley Junior Hockey League game. Ray Barnes, Bernie Larue, Ron Branchaud, Ron Martelle and Dick Tessier all had two goals. … Cornwall Board of Trade and mayor Nick Kaneb asked the Board of Broadcast Governors to require CJOH-TV to give one-hour of coverage to Cornwall five-days a week. Bushnell TV Ltd., which operated CJOH (now CTV Ottawa), closed down CJSS-TV after purchasing the station that had been operated by two different owners – founder Stanley Shenkman and Canadian Marconi – for almost four years, lacked sufficient ad revenue to stay on the air.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Dr. John Carter Callaghan performed the first successful open-heart operation on Sept. 15, 1956 when he repaired a hole in the heart of a 10-year-old Toronto boy.
TRIVIA: Why did most of Saskatchewan’s doctors go on strike in July 1962?
QUOTED: “Here’s something to think about: How come you never see a headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?’’ – Jay Leno