Emma Simpson – Part 3 Closing Arguments and Sentencing

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Emma Simpson

The trial is coming to an end.  Will the “Unwritten Law” be upheld or will Emma go to prison?  Emma Simpson’s  Sentencing comes right after closing arguments.

Prosecutor Murphy asked for life imprisonment saying, “Something needs to be done about willful, malicious, and deliberate murder.”  He then pointed to Emma and called her a Jealous, angry gun toter. He followed with, “The state of Illinois asks you, gentlemen, to put an end to these killings by these women wild with jealousy.  We have shown there is no insanity in this case.  This paragon of virtue in her own mind was always right and her husband Elmer wrong–“

At which point Emma jumped up and shouted, “Mr. Murphy, he was not all wrong, — he was all right until that woman Jean Webster got hold of him.” 

Later when Mr. Murphy was telling the jury that Emma while insane was earning her own living, she cried out, “I did not!”

Mr. Murphy’s final statement was, “Gentlemen, there are many women in Chicago waiting to see what you will do.  

Clarence Darrow followed.  “You may lock Mrs. Simpson up for the rest of her life, but that won’t stamp out happenings like this.  Does it seem to you, gentlemen, that a person in his or her right mind would pick out a court, a temple of justice, where a dozen persons are gathered to do a murder? It is not only murder, but more serious, contempt of court.” 

Darrow went on to uphold his plea that Emma was insane as it related to Elmer.  “A man would not worry about troubles with his wife but would worry about making money and go crazy on the subject.  A large number of women under the same conditions as Mrs. Simpson faced, would go insane.  If a man died his widow might go insane, but if a woman died, I would need proof that the husband went insane.  If a woman lost a million dollars, I doubt she would go insane, but a man would.”

Clarence Darrow closed by stating to the 12-member male jury, “You’ve been asked to treat a man and a woman the same — but you can’t, no manly man can.”

The jury was sent to deliberate. The Prosecutor left the courthouse.  The judge went into his chambers, and Clarence Darrow was gathering up his papers when there was a knock on the door and the bailiff told him the jury had reached a verdict.  It had taken half an hour.  Emma came back in the courtroom having changed from the white she had worn throughout the trial to a black velvet gown. 

“You have the verdict, gentlemen” asked Judge George Kersten.  “Let it be read.” 

The jury foreman stood and read. “We, the jury find the defendant, Emma Simpson, committed the act charged in the indictment, but at the time of the commission of  said act she was a lunatic or insane person and that she has not permanently recovered from such lunacy and insanity.” 

After the trial one of the jurors, Max Leviton was questioned by the Chicago Tribune and told them, “We had been undecided until this morning as to whether she was insane — but when Mrs. Simpson interrupted the prosecuting attorney twice, we figured a sane person would have acted differently.”  He further told them that two ballots had been taken, the first one stood 6 to 6 on the question of insanity.

When she was back in her cell, she told a reporter when asked if she was happy with the verdict, “Yes, but that won’t bring my husband back.”

The story was not just covered all over Illinois but also appeared in newspapers in Kansas City, Topeka Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bartlesville, OK, Fort Worth, TX, St. Joseph, MO, Davenport, IA, Meriden, CT, Beatrice, NE, Little Rock, AR, and even in Canada. 

September 30, 1919, Emma sentenced to the Elgin Insane Asylum, where her father had been and died.

November 24, 1919, Emma Simpson is freed from Elgin Insane Asylum.  In an Elgin City court packed with a sympathetic crowd, Judge Frank Shopen declared her sane.  Emma stayed in the hospital for fifty-one days.  During this time, she made surgical dressings and combed the other patient’s hair.  Following the decision Emma approached the judge and held out her hand.  “God bless you!” he smiled. 

Coming Next...

Remember Emma’s uncle John Roach?  Well he had a son Frederick.  Frederick was involved in a HUGE scandal!  No murder, no real crime, but lots of sex!  My daughter says the story is salacious!  Love that word!  See you Sunday with a new story!

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