Tales from the Morgue: Sentences passed on murderers

2013-08-05T09:45:00Z 2013-08-07T12:13:08Z Tales from the Morgue: Sentences passed on murderersJohanna Eubank, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 05, 2013 9:45 am  • 

First John Goodwin, also known as James Steele, was sentenced and then a week later William Steele was sentenced for the murders of Fred Kibbe and Alfred Hilpot.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 3, 1910:

 

GOODWIN GETS LIFE SENTENCE IN GLOBE TRIAL
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Jurors Wrangled 36 Hours and 27 Ballots Were Necessary, Four Were for Death Penalty on First Ballot
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GLOBE, Ariz., Dec. 2.—Guilty of murder in the first degree with the penalty of life imprisonment was the verdict reached by the jury tonight at 9 o'clock in the case of Goodwin, alias Steele, charged with the murder of Kibbe, at Tuttle Station, on September 15.

The verdict was reached after 36 hours of wrangling, the jurors having four times requested additional instructions. Twenty-seven ballots were taken, the first standing four for death, four for life sentence, two for second degree murder and two for acquittal. On the twenty-sixth ballot eleven voted for life sentence and one for the acquittal. When the verdict was read, Goodwin never moved an eyelash. The verdict is considered only the beginning of a determined fight in the courts. The trial of William Stewart for the murder of Kibbe will begin Monday.

The defense announced tonight that it had sensations to spring in the next case. The prosecution announced that if the verdict in the Stewart trial for being an accessory to the murder of Kibbe is only second degree as an accessory, Stewart will also be tried for the murder of Hilpot. Possibly after that, Goodwin will also be tried on the same charge, an indictment having already been returned.

Well that's a way around the double jeopardy rule, have another charge waiting in the wings.

Just less than a week later, Stewart was convicted and sentenced. From the Star, Dec. 9, 1910:

 

STEWART GETS LIFE TERM FOR GLOBE MURDER
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On Stand He Tells the Story of Heartless Crime Done by His Partner in Lonely Cabin, Victims Shot Down
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GLOBE, Ariz., Dec. 8.—Murder in the first degree and sentence of life imprisonment was the verdict rendered by the jury tonight in the case of William Stewart for the killing of Fred Kibbe.

John B. Goodwin, alias Steele, who was convicted last week for the murder of Kibbe will now be tried for killing Alfred Hilpot, the prosecution hoping for the death penalty. The defense will in the morning move for a change of venue on the grounds that newspaper stories have worked up sentiment against the indicted men.

A sensational development of the closing day of the trial of William Stewart charged with the murder of Fred Kibbe was the making public of the statement of Stewart concerning the crime which proved to be self-serving and was therefore not introduced into evidence by the prosecution or defense.

Stewart in his statement lays the killing of both Kibbe and Hilpot on John B. Goodwin, alias Steele, but confesses that Steele talked to him about "plucking these two fellows off" on the evening before the murder at Tuttle's station. Stewart claims however that when the killing was done it paralyzed him. He also confesses that Steele planned several other murders. Stewart said in part:

"Of course this man Steele had spoke to me several times about plucking off other parties coming here, (Tuttle's station), and when he sprung this stunt on me, Kibbe and Hilpot were out hunting quail. I told him it was foolish. That night we had supper and ate together and were cooking together like a family. It was rather late when this thing happened. It was dark. Hilpot was lying on the floor on a saddle pad, Kibbe sat braced back at a table, and we were laughing and talking about happenings in the grocery business. Steele was on a bed. He then got up suddenly, went into the kitchen, and there was a shot fired from about the middle of the door. I was paralyzed. Hilpot was in about the same fix. Kibbe was shot first with a six shooter. He never moved nor said a word, and I heard blood dripping down off the table. Steele jumped past me, as I was sitting on a box and commenced on Hilpot with a rifle.

"Kibbe never fell off the chair. He was braced, but Steele took him by the legs and pulled him down. Hilpot did not get up after the first shot, but I heard him say something. Hilpot was shot four times, once with a six shooter and three times with a rifle, and after he shot Hilpot, Steele broke the gun over his head, then turned and asked me what I was going to do about it. He said people that killed people would always be bothered, but that it was like killing animals to him."

As to Steele and his reason for killing the men he said, according to Stewart's story, that "we would kill those fellows, get away to Yellowstone Park, rob some coach, go to a big town and have a great time." Previous to the killing of Hilpot and Kibbe, Stewart was to take the six shooter and shoot one and Steele was to shoot the other with a rifle. He also wanted to kill Tuttle's boy and M. A. Gonberry and wife, a druggist of Globe, who were encamped 300 yards from Tuttle's station. Stewart admits that he could have given Steele the slip on their 150 mile flight but was afraid as Steele said that the circumstantial evidence and the fact that the two men were killed with two different guns would hang him (Stewart.) Stewart was once arrested in Riverside. The two alleged murderers soldiered at Fort Apache and Fort Yellowstone and Steele was in the Philippines two years.

The change of venue motion must have been a long shot since the trial was in Globe and the Star covered enough of it to sway the sentiments of Tucsonans. One would imagine it would be the same over much of the state.

Next: The final chapter.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

Tales from the Morgue is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library - also known as News and Research Services - for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com.

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