Thursday, August 8, 2013

John Truck Declared Insane

 Governor Benjamin Barker Odell, Jr.
Auburn Weekly Bulletin, Friday, April 11, 1902.

Truck Is Insane.

Eminent Alienists so Report and Cortland Murderer Escapes the Chair.

   An Associated Press dispatch from Albany says: "John Truck, the Cortland county murderer, has been respited by Governor Odell until August 12 upon the report of the examining physicians who have reported to the Governor that in their opinion Truck was insane when be committed the crime. In the meantime Truck will be kept under surveillance."

   The Court of Appeals secretly confirmed the judgment of conviction in Truck's case and fixed the week beginning May 12 as the time of his execution. His attorney, John H. McCrahon, of Syracuse, then appealed to Governor Odell to commute the sentence on the ground that Truck was insane when he committed the crime and is insane now. Governor Odell named Drs. Talcott and Pilgrim, two celebrated alienists, to make an examination of Truck and they came here Monday for that purpose. Their report to the Governor sustains Mr. McCrahon's contention and the respite follows. While it nominally defers the time of execution for three months it is certain now that Truck will never be executed but will be transferred for life to some Institution for the criminal insane.

   Truck was convicted of the murder of Frank W. Miller, of Virgil, Cortland county, about three years ago. On his trial it was shown conclusively to the jury that be had killed Miller and afterward burned the latter's house and cremated the body and that the motive of his crime was robbery. He was sentenced to be executed. After the sentence of death had been passed upon the prisoner Truck's attorneys gave up the fight for their client's life and Attorney McCrahon interested himself in the case. He has reason to be proud of his success.

   Warden Mead has not received any official notice regarding Governor Odell's action and Truck has not yet received the news.

Cortland Evening Standard, Monday, April 13, 1902.


Respited by Governor and if He Stays Insane He May Live.

   The Auburn Advertiser of Friday says: Warden Mead received the respite from the governor this morning and as soon as possible after receiving the papers, the warden went to Truck's cell in the condemned row and read the reprieve to the murderer.

   When he had finished the warden said to Truck, "Do you understand what that means?"

   "Yes, sir, " came the answer through the grated door. There was no emotion apparent in the man’s voice nor did he show any feeling in his face or actions.

   The warden then asked Truck if he had received any news of the report of Drs. Pilgrim and Talcott to the Governor and received a negative answer.

   It had been announced that the Governor had commuted the sentence to life imprisonment and lest Truck might have heard this, and be laboring under a misapprehension, the warden explained just what the respite meant. Truck, however, said he had heard nothing, either from the officers or from his attorney.


Cortland Evening Standard, Friday, April 11, 1902.

A New Automobile.
   The latest addition to the number of automobiles in Cortland is the one just purchased by Mr. F. W. Melvin, the local manager of the Standard Oil Co. The machine arrived yesterday and was given a short test on the pavements. Mr. Melvin was very much pleased with its working and expects to put it into active operation as soon as the condition of the roads will permit.
   The machine was purchased through the City Cycle Co., and is what is known as an Oldsmobile and is manufactured in Detroit. It has a four horsepower gasoline motor, and is finished in black with red trimmings. Mr. Melvin examined very carefully a number of machines before making his purchase and selected the Oldsmobile as the one best adapted to his needs.

Benjamin Odell, Jr.


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