100 years ago in Spokane: Judge allows testimony in perjury trial

Some “legal fireworks” finally gave a “real thrill to the bored crowd in the courtroom” at the Maurice Codd perjury trial.

It revolved around a procedural issue – whether the testimony of state’s witness Madeline Tompkins at Codd’s murder trial could be read into the record at this trial. As soon as the prosecutors attempted to read that testimony into the record, the attorneys for the 15 defendants jumped up and gave “vehement” objections.

They declared that Tompkins’ testimony was immaterial, because Tompkins was not a defendant in this case. The prosecutors, however, said they would be able to connect Tompkins’ testimony with the testimony of Beatrice Sant, who was to be the prosecution’s star witness. Sant’s testimony at the murder trial had contradicted Tompkins’ testimony, but since then Sant had recanted her testimony and turned state’s evidence.

The judge agreed with the prosecutors and allowed Tompkins testimony to be read into the record

Many spectators had been turned away from courtroom gallery, but so far, those in attendance had heard mostly tedious legal sparring. Also, with 15 defendants, it was difficult for observers to keep everyone straight. A headline on a Spokesman Review story read, “ ‘Who’s Who’ at Trial Needed.”

This was all expected to change in the next few days, when Sant was scheduled to take the stand and testify that she was paid to lie at the murder trial.

So from the court beat: A surprise verdict came down in the WJ Van Skike manslaughter case: not guilty. Van Skike had been found guilty once in the death of Mrs. S. Kirkpatrick, but a second trial had been ordered on appeal.

This time, Van Skike’s attorney had successfully cast doubt on his guilt.