Verdicts in Thelma and Mrs. Ida Haston Cases

Two sets of hearings and trials were planned, one set in the juvenile court for Ida’s daughter Thelma and another hearing and trial in the circuit court for Mrs. Ida Haston.  But accusations against Ida and defense testimonies in her favor were a major part of Thelma’s juvenile case.

The hearing and trial for Mrs. Ida Haston NEVER HAPPENED because the Judge heard enough in Thelma’s trial to realize that Maggie Chandler had created and spread the entire story as a lie.  The judge even decided to not send the case to the jury and to spare Ida Haston from having to go through a hearing and trial for what was obviously just a huge lie by Maggie Chandler!

Thelma's Trial Comes to an Unusual Ending

09-29-1917 Springfield Leader and Press pages 1 and 5 – Mrs. Haston Freed of Accusations by Trial of Daughter, Girl Thelma, Acquitted; defense attorney (Judge Neville) trapped Maggie Chandler in false identification of the black-haired man with the golden teeth she claimed to have had improper relations with; “then came the realization that Mrs. Haston was not guilty as charged and that her daughter was not delinquent as was charged”; the attorneys met with Judge Guy Kirby in a brief recess and told him to the take the case in his hands and do as he thought best;

Judge Guy Kirby concluded: “This is one of those cases where judgment ought not to take place.  The court won’t permit the jury to brand this little girl a delinquent.  Furthermore, I want to say that some of the girls who were connected with this case are as innocent of any wrongdoing as Caesar’s wife”; “A conviction of the Haston girl would put a stigma on her character that she perhaps could never live down”; toward the end of the trial John Meyers was brought into court from jail to tell of a fishing trip he and his wife and Thelma and another man had taken, but John Meyers admitted of going to the front door but never was inside the Haston house; his wife was mentioned in the case as the “woman in black.”; Maggie Chandler never said she was frightened into making her confession;

The judge stated, “It is “far better to let 99 guilty persons go free than to convict one innocent one.”  Judge said he was “not passing innocence or guilt on Thelma and Mrs. Haston but was going to dismiss the case.”

Blackstone’s ratio = “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” (a maxim in early English law)

“Congratulations from many persons in the courtroom, for Thelma and Mrs. Haston and her husband followed.  Crowds shook hands with them and wished them success.”

09-29-1917 Springfield News-Leader pages 1 and 2 – Haston Girl is Held Innocent, Charge Against Mother Will Also Be Dismissed and Two Held in Jail Released; Maggie Chandler story discredited; Judge Kirby would not permit the case to go to the jury and “the entire investigation of the alleged ‘house of depravity’ went up in smoke’”; charge against Ida will be dismissed and John Meyer and his wife will be turned out of the county jail; Other three girls will be tried for delinquency and Maggie’s admission of guilt will be used against her; courtroom was filled with high nervous tension; Maggie was called into courtroom and identified a boy as the man with the gold teeth but he came to the stand and he said, “I was taken before her during the investigation and in the presence of Mr. Nee she positively denied that I was the man.”; Thelma’s attorney looked at the jury and smiled and rubbed his hands; Sheriff Webb was called to the stand and testified that he heard Maggie tell John Wren, her brother in law that this boy was not the one who visited her at the Haston home;

The biggest mystery is why Maggie Chandler would tell such a horrible story about herself, repudiate it, and then go back to her original statement on the witness stand.

Now, honestly, after reading Part 1 of the story, what did you think about Mrs. Ida Haston?

How do you think about her now that you've heard both sides of the story?

What can we learn from this case?

The Whole Story - Good, Bad, and Ugly

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