June 8, 1899. Harriet A. Merrihew. Sentenced October 4, 1880; county, Lewis; crime, murder, second degree; term, life; prison, Onondaga County Penitentiary; transferred to State Prison for women, Auburn. Commuted to eighteen years, eight months and five days actual time.
The prisoner was convicted in October, 1880, of killing her husband's brother, David H. Merrihew, by means of poison. The petition for her pardon, filed in 1883, signed by the county judge, the district attorney, the sheriff, and many other citizens of Lewis county, including seven of the convicting jury, represents her to have been a person of weak intellect, and alleges that if guilty at all she acted under the influence and as the agent of another who was the real instigator of the crime. Judge Merwin, who presided at the trial, in a letter dated June 11, 1883, said: "The case made against Mrs. Merrihew was not a strong one. In my opinion, her punishment should be commuted, but I am not prepared to say that she has now served long enough. The verdict, I presume, was somewhat of a compromise."