Estaver Pointed Out By Johnson as Slayer of His Wife
ACCUSATION IS MADE IN COURT BY AGED MAN
Details of Auto Trip and Shooting Is Again Reviewed
"Who shot you wife?"
"Why, that fellow did."
With trembling finger, Peter Johnson of Denver, his face twitching with emotion, pointed to William S. Estaver, charged with the murder of Mrs. Anna C. Johnson, on the Ajo-Stovall road, Nov. 15, during the preliminary examination of Estaver before Justice of the Peace Oscar L. Pease, yesterday afternoon.
The accusation marked the climax of a four-hour session, held in a crowded courtroom during which the state, represented by County Attorney George R. Darnell and Deputy County Attorney Ben B. Mathews, presented its preliminary case-in-chief in an effort to have Estaver held to face trial for his life in the superior court of Pima county.
The examination will be resumed tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock when the defense, according to W. F. Timmons of Yuma, Estaver's attorney, will be prepared to announce whether if intends to present any evidence.
On the stand about two hours, Peter Johnson never referred to Estaver by name, but invariably pointed to him, frequently adverting to him as "that fellow" or simply using the personal pronoun. Time and time again, the accusing finger was leveled at the defendant, sometimes several words ahead of any direct reference to him.
On his part, Estaver looked straight ahead or down at the table in front of him. Only once did the accused man open his lips, and that was during a brief discussion as to the correct pronunciation of his name. The defendant pronounced it with the accent on the first syllable.
Johnson is a man past 60, with scarcely a gray strand visible in his blond hair. He speaks with a marked Scandinavian accent, and his examination as a witness was further rendered difficult by the fact that one of the four wounds he received at the time his wife was killed has seriously affected his hearing.
Defense Springs Surprise
After the state had rested its case, shortly before 5 o'clock, the defense sprang a surprise by demanding that the prosecution produce all the exhibits it intends to introduce in the superior court, especially a piece of glass from the Johnson car's windshield and bullets and empty shells.
While declaring that the request was unique in Arizona jurisprudence, Judge Pease said he was ready to listen to arguments, and would give the defense time to produce authorities in support of its contention.
Carey S. Cox, one of the proprietors of the Willard hotel, was the first witness on the stand. He testified that Estaver had registered at the hotel under the name of J. C. Beck.
J. N. McCain, a barber of East Congress street, testified that Estaver had entered his shop on Nov. 11 or 12 and that as he was getting a shave and a haircut, he told McCain that he had just walked in from Ajo, his car having broken down at the other side of that town. He said that he had started from Ajo at 7 o'clock in the morning and had reached Tucson about 3 o'clock, explaining the shortness of the time by saying that he had taken a short cut of 26 miles "across the mountains," according to the witness.
Johnson Takes the Stand
The third witness was Mr. Johnson. He said that he was [unreadable word], his home address being [unreadable number] West Twenty-ninth avenue, Denver, and that he was born in Sweden.
After preliminary statements as to his trip to Tucson and his registering at the Willard hotel, Johnson told of his first meeting with the accused man, which he said took place across the street from an automobile agency. He said that when he stepped back to his car after leaving the shop, he found Estaver talking to Mrs. Johnson, having just introduced himself as "Burgmaster."
Estaver told the Johnsons that his car had broken down on the other side of Ajo, and that service men wanted to charge him $73 to take parts out to the machine, according to the witness, who added that Estaver said his wife was waiting with the car at Sentinel.
Johnson said he told Estaver that he was already overloaded, but that later it was agreed that if Estaver would pay express charges on a trunk Johnson had in his machine, he would take him along.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson started out the next morning and reached Ajo at 4 o'clock that afternoon, Estaver riding in the seat directly behind Johnson, who was on the left side of the front seat, the witness said.
"When we got to Ajo, that fellow said that Sentinel was 40 miles away, and that he wished we would drive on, since his wife was waiting for him there, and that the people with whom she was staying were good people and would provide accommodations for all of us," so Johnson said. "I told him that for his sake I would go on, thinking that I could make those 40 miles in two hours. He told me that the last 11 miles was hard road. We figured that my speedometer would show 70 miles when we reached Sentinel.
"So we started out, at about 4 o'clock. Between 8 and 9 o'clock I noticed that my speedometer showed 60 miles. "I told him that my speedometer showed 61 miles and that we were still in the sand, although we had only 9 miles to go and the hard road was supposed to commence 11 miles this side of Sentinel.
"Then I felt a stinging sensation in the back of my neck."
At this juncture it was that Peter Johnson made his dramatic accusation against Estaver.
After the first or second shot, Johnson said his wife screamed and exclaimed:
"That's what we get for trying to help out a stranger."
The witness said that after his wife was fatally wounded, he received three more wounds, and that he turned halfway round in his seat, and reached back to get hold of Estaver, but that he was gone.
"He must have jumped out," Johnson said.
The witness added that he drove on about 8 miles, stopped and turned off the lights, because he was afraid that Estaver would try to follow him and kill him in order to get the money that he and Mrs. Johnson had on their persons. Johnson said that his wife had expired by the time he stopped the car.
The next morning the witness said, he drove into Sentinel and saw Estaver in the custody of the Yuma sheriff.
"What did you say to him?" Mr. Mathews asked.
"You scoundrel, why didn't you finish me last night like you did my wife," Johnson quoted.
The witness added that Estaver then replied that he had not done the shooting.
On cross-examination, Johnson denied that during the conversation he admitted to Estaver that he was too excited to know who had shot him and his wife.
Mrs. Eliza Cronk followed Johnson on the stand. She testified to the conversation between the wounded man and Estaver at Stovall, saying that Estaver had asked Johnson:
Defendant Denies Guilt
"You don't think I did the shooting, do you?"
Mrs. Cronk testified that Estaver had reported that two men had jumped on the side of the car on the right and the other on the left but that later Estaver had said that he had only seen the shadow of the second man. The witness described the wounds of Mrs. Johnson saying that the dead woman had been shot three times.
County Engineer W. C. Lefebvre testified that the spot where the shooting occurred was pointed out to him by Deputy Sheriff Pat Holland, of Yuma county, and that it was 3 and one half miles east of the Pima-Yuma county line and four miles south of the Maricopa-Pima line.
Other witnesses who testified for the state were Walter F. Cronk, C. E. Middleby and Carmen Leon.
County Attorney Darnell said last night that as far as the state was concerned, Estaver, in case he is held to the superior court, will be tried in Ajo, the shooting having occurred in that district. The defense may, however, produce good reasons why the trial should be held in Tucson, the prosecutor said.