fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Mail Tribune 100, May 3, 1921

The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago

May 3, 1921


Dr. Sweeney Testifies Wild Utterances Due To Anger, After Arrest — Testimony is Conflicting — Sheriff Says Not Drunk, Deputy Says Yes.

After one of the hardest fought legal battles in Medford’s history of cases of similar nature, and an all day hearing, Justice Taylor late Monday afternoon dismissed the charge of intoxication against Ernest (Dud) Wolgamott. A large crowd of interested spectators heard the proceedings. Assistant County Prosecutor George Codding prosecuted the case and Former District Attorney George M. Roberts defended Wolgamott, who was arrested about two weeks ago at the public dance in Jacksonville on the charge of intoxication, by Deputy Sheriff J. J. McMahon.

A disposition was manifested by both attorneys to bring in matters which had nothing to do with the charge on which Wolgamott was on trial, especially on cross examination of witnesses, and such attempts met with vigorous objections and had a tendency to confuse the main point at issue.

However, the case was sufficiently perplexing as for the prosecution, a number of witnesses for the state testified that Wolgamott was intoxicated at the time of his arrest and after a while an equal number testified just as positively that Wolgamott was sober.

Thus matters stood until Dr. Charles T. Sweeney, who was called to attend Wolgamott in the county jail shortly after his arrest, was called as a witness by the defense and testified that the young man was not intoxicated. In addition, Sheriff Terrill for the defense, testified that Wolgamott was not intoxicated, but said however that he showed evidence of having been drinking.

Justice Taylor in giving his decision called attention to the conflicting evidence throughout the hearing, but stated that the preponderance of evidence, especially that of disinterested witnesses, was to the effect that Wolgamott was not intoxicated, and in addition Dr. Sweeney as an expert witness, had declared that he was not.

In their arguments preceding this decision Attorneys Codding and Roberts made eloquent, earnest appeals, the former contending that the evidence conclusively proved that Wolgamott was drunk and the latter just as vehemently contending that he was perfectly sober and that the charge should be dismissed.

One feature of the hearing that has aroused considerable comment was that although Deputy Sheriff McMahon, County Jailer Bert Moses, and Wig Jack, the floor manager of the dance that night and who has in the past often acted as a deputy sheriff, were among those who testified that Wolgamott was intoxicated. Sheriff Terrill who was at the county jail shortly after the arrest was made, testified that he was not.

It seems that when McMahon was taking Wolgamott from the dance hall, the latter protesting that he was perfectly sober, the pair stopped at the head of the stairs and argued, during which McMahon claims Wolgamott made a pass as thought to strike him, which was denied by the defense. Anyhow, the deputy sheriff whirled Wolgamott around with such force that his head struck the wall.

This the defense claimed made Wolgamott crazy with anger and when the county jail was reached was responsible for him making the sensational statements and threats against the deputy sheriff he is said to have uttered. His conduct at the jail was said by the prosecution to be due to intoxication.

On this point Dr. Sweeney testified that his impression was that Wolgamott’s utterances were due to anger. Sheriff Terrill was not at the dance and did not see the arrest, but arrived at the jail a short time after.

— Alissa Corman; acorman@rosebudmedia.com