Catherine Rosier takes the Stand
Day 11 – October 30, 1922
When Catherine Rosier was called to the stand there was an instant hush in the courtroom. The spectators leaned forward so not to miss anything. When Catherine took the stand there were no melodramatics, she spoke softly, earnestly and simply.
Catherine took the stand at 10:48 on the 11th day of the trial. Ten minutes later, she fainted for the first time.
Scott asked her, “Mrs. Rosier, when did you first meet Arthur Rosier?”
She responded, “October 8 of last year.”
“Mrs. Rosier, from the time you met Arthur Rosier at the time of the birth of your baby, did anything extraordinary happen?”
“While I was in the hospital having my baby, Arthur came to see me. Oscar, my husband, never did. And I thought my husband was to busy to come there. After my arrival home, I was told by Arthur Rosier that my husband wasn’t true to me, and Arthur Rosier told me that if he were me, he wouldn’t do anything, because it might ‘blow over.’”
“About a week after I was home from the hospital”, Catherine said weeping. “I was introduced to Miss Reckitt at a Halloween party at my Stonehurst home. At that time, I knew nothing about her and my husband running around.
“Another night, after dinner, while I was preparing to clear the dishes off the table, Arthur tried to force me to do something for him, but I refused and repulsed him. I said to Arthur, ‘If you don’t watch your step, I will have to tell Mr. Rosier of your actions.’ And he said, ‘Oh that’s all-right Oscar’s downtown tonight with Miss Reckitt.’”
“That night, I waited for my husband to come home, and I asked him if it were true what Arthur had said. He told me that it was true. And I asked him if at the time I was in the hospital with my baby, he was out with other women. He told me yes. He said he wanted a divorce. He told me that he didn’t love me any longer, and even though I pleaded with him and told him of my love, he said:
‘” If you don’t give me a divorce, I will use Arthur as a co-respondent.”’
The next day she asked Arthur to go to Oscar’s office and try to do something. Arthur said he wouldn’t interfere. Catherine then asked him to do it for the baby, at which point she fainted.
Court Officer Adamson stood directly behind Catherine to repeat her words if they weren’t heard or to catch her if she fainted again or had a heart attack. And he gave her smelling salts to bring her around.
She then told of arranging to meet with Jerry and pleading with her to give Oscar up. Sobbing loudly, she said, “Oh I begged her so hard. And finally, she agreed to give him up.”
When she told Arthur about her meeting with Jerry, he said it would never happen. Arthur then told her about the couch in Oscar’s office and what he used it for.
She then called her doctor, Dr. Harris and asked him to come out. Catherine took him upstairs to see the baby and handed him a note that talked about her unhappiness and Oscar’s infidelity.
The entire courtroom was in tears at this point. Catherine was talking so fast and so quietly that Officer Adamson had to repeat her words so the jury could hear her. She went on to explain all the abusive incidents with Oscar and Arthur’s trying to poison the marriage. She did say that Oscar had given her pearls for Christmas, “I was so glad, and I went over to Oscar and put my arms around him and kissed him. He pushed me away.”
She spoke of another time when she and Oscar had gone out to dinner. Catherine asked Oscar to let Jerry go and make Arthur move out. He responded, “No, Arthur will stay. And if you don’t stop bothering Jerry, I will choke you.”
Catherine went on to tell how she and Oscar had come home late from a Poor Richard banquet. Oscar had to get up early to catch a train to New York. Catherine got up with him and made breakfast. When he left, she went back to bed. Arthur walked into the bedroom. She threatened to scream to wake up the entire household and he left. Catherine told Oscar and he replied, “He may as well have you than some other man, I’m through.”
The next day Catherine was preparing to go shopping, Arthur asked where she was going and invited her to lunch. At first, she refused and then agreed. While they were at lunch Arthur told her what Oscar had planned with Jerry that afternoon. Catherine left and went to the office. In the restroom she found Jerry’s purse and in the purse was a diary with love notes written in Oscar’s handwriting. She left the office and went and bought the pistol and had the clerk load it.
“When I entered my husband’s office, as I opened the door, there they were on the lounge. Oscar had his coat off. Their heads were together, toward me. They jumped up, I screamed, and that’s the last I remember.”
As Catherine spoke her chest heaved, her eyes filled with horror as though she was seeing the scene all over again. She started to stand up and then slumped back into her chair her head on her chest. She was given smelling salts and revived for a minute and began sobbing. Then she fainted again.
The women spectators began weeping as well as some of the jurors. Judge Barratt was visibly affected.
Scott then asked Catherine if she was afraid of Arthur. She answered that when Oscar made the trip to New York, she had asked an older friend to come over and stay with her because she was afraid of what Arthur would do.
Scott then produced the note that she had written to Dr. Harris, she identified it.
Attorney Scott then produced a bottle of poison and asked Catherine if she had intended to commit suicide with it.
Judge Barratt was afraid that she would take her own life on the stand.
It was the same bottle of poison that she had taken with her the day of the shootings, the bottle of poison that was still in her pocket when she was arrested.
Catherine’s intention on going to Oscar’s office was to kill herself. Catherine held the bottle up, looked at it and opened it. At that point Judge Barratt shot a quick glance to Court Officer Adamson who stood behind Catherine.
Adamson gently put his hand over Catherine’s and her palm was empty, she had put the poison back into the bottle. Adamson shook his head no at the judge.
Scott then asked Catherine, “When Arthur Rosier told you about the hopelessness of your efforts to get your husband back and told you that your husband and Mildred Reckitt were alone, why did you go to his office?”
“I went up to make a final appeal, thinking that perhaps I could bring about some type of reconciliation.”
“Before Arthur Rosier came into your life, what was the condition as to health and mind and happiness?”
“I was very happy; I loved my husband and he seemed to love me.”
“Why did you purchase the revolver on January 21?”
“To go back to my husband’s office and kill myself in their presence, so they could see what they had driven me to.”
“Did you go back with the intention of killing Miss Reckitt or your husband?”
“Oh no! I loved him too well to kill him!” At this point she dropped her head in her hands and began sobbing loudly.
Judge Barratt called a 10-minute recess before the cross examination began.
Every woman in the courtroom was using her handkerchief, most sobbing audibly and so were most of the men.
To say the cross examination was brutal would be an understatement. Speiser questioned her about meeting Oscar. She told about it and that Oscar had asked him to marry him shortly after they met, and she agreed. When she found out he was married already, she called it off.
Speiser asked, “When did you become intimate with him again?”
Scott objected and Judge Barnatt agreed and Speiser re-worded the question, “When did you affect a reconciliation?”
Speiser then asked a barrage of questions as to what she and Oscar had done before his former wife died. Catherine repeatedly answered they did nothing as she had broken it off when she found out he was married.
He then badgered her about expenses, charge accounts, how often she got her hair done, how much did it cost? Did they go to the theater, the movies? How often? Did they socialize with neighbors, how often? Who was invited to their home? Did she invite Miss Reckitt? No! Were there any other stenographers there? Not to my knowledge.
Then he barraged her with questions about Oscar’s company. Were there other girls employed there? While Miss Reckitt was employed? What were their names? Did they give you anything for the baby? Did you ever complain to Mr. Rosier about any of them besides Miss Reckitt? Did you ever go to lunch with Miss Reckitt? Did you ever go to lunch with another girl? Did you know your husband’s firm was insolvent? Did you know that it lacked funds?
Alfred L. Fisher was the next witness to take the stand. Alfred was an orderly at Jefferson Hospital where Jerry and Oscar had been taken after they were shot. He testified that as he was wheeling Jerry to the operating room, he asked Jerry if Oscar had shot her.
“No, we were caught by his wife,” Jerry told him.
Alfred also testified that Catherine had leaned over Jerry’s bed and asked if she hadn’t told her to stay away from her husband, and Jerry answered yes.
Sue Reid suffered a minor heart attack during the testimony and was taken to the hospital.
Court was adjourned and Catherine fell to her knees in prayer, whether for her mother or herself, or both was unknown.