GEORGE SMITH vs. STATE - Appeal from
Grayson: Murder of the first
The indictment contained two counts, one
charging murder upon malice
aforethought, and the other a murder committed in the perpetration of
The court, after submitting the issue of a killing upon express malice,
further charged as follows:
You are also informed that if you believe from
the evidence that
defendant with malice aforethought and in the perpetration of robbery
and killed James Isbell with a pistol, then he would be guilty of
of the first degree, although you should believe that Isbell fired the
first shot. This charge presented the law of the case.
The evidence in the case was insufficient to
raise the issue of
insanity, but had it been otherwise, there was no error in instructing
the jury that defendant must 'clearly' prove he was insane. A new trial
was asked on account of the newly discovered evidence of one Kempton,
was confined in jail with defendant several months before trial and who
will swear that he had reason to believe from the acts of defendant
he was insane. Defendant certainly knew he was in jail with Kempton and
he was chargeable with diligence. There was no error. Affirmed.
Opinion by Davidson, P.J.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) April 29,
J.D. Woods, attorney for George
Smith, who is now in jail awaiting the sentence which will
day of his execution, visited his client's cell at the
jail this morning. Capt. Woods remarked as he saluted the condemned man
who was sitting on the farthest side of the cell:
'Well, Smith, the court of appeals have affirmed
'Yes, I have been expecting that for some time,'
and after a pause
during which he rather pleasantly smiled he added: 'When will the day
'It will be several days before the mandate gets
here and then after
the sentence is passed upon you it will be at least thirty days until
day set by the court comes around,' responded the attorney.
'Oh, well, but I don't see why they should be so
long about it;
but let's see,' he added laughingly, as he counted away on his fingers,
'that will throw it into warm weather which will be nicer.'
Capt. Woods volunteered the statement that he
would endeavor not
to have the execution come off the same day with Massey, and Smith
'That hole out there isn't hardly large enough
to drop more than
He stated that he didn't care to see a preacher
and that he had
a Bible, but would like to have some magazines to read. He said he had
read so many novels he was sick of them.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 1,
Touched By Religion.
SHERMAN, Tex., May 9. - George
who is in a cell at the Houston street jail waiting for the day to be
for his execution for the murder of Town Marshal Isbell of Bell, and
has all along maintained indifference when approached upon spiritual
to-day courteously received Rev. J.A. Ivey, pastor of the Second
church, who had quite a consultation with the condemned man.
After a fervent prayer, as the minister was
preparing to leave,
Smith asked him to come again, saying: 'I believe you are really
in me and did not come just out of curiosity, as so many have done.'
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 11,
Death Sentence Passed on George Smith.
SHERMAN, Tex., May 20. - A young man named
Dobins was taken to Denison
from the northwestern portion of the county this morning and then
over to a deputy sheriff, who brought him in and placed him in jail. He
is charged with criminal assault.
To-day Sheriff McAfee entered the district
courtroom and just behind
him came a clanking of shackles and the thin form of George Smith,
in his rear came Warden McKinney.
entered the dock, where Smith sat down and by his side, faithful to the
very last, was his appointed counsel. The court said:
Before proceeding in the case of the state of
Texas against George
Smith, I deem it well to speak of another case lately tried in this
I refer to the case of the state of Texas against Sam Massey. Since his
trial and within the last few days it has come to my knowledge that Sam
desired to appeal his case. This is a privilege I would not refuse any
prisoner, and I have ordered the sheriff to remove the prisoner beyond
the jurisdiction of this county, and this he has already done.
The courtroom was as still as the tomb, but
faces that had looked
stern at Smith now looked with compassion perhaps it was a comparison
the two crimes. Smith had killed an able-bodied man, but Massey most
assaulted, endeavored to murder a family and tried to burn the house
the occupants, every one of whom he had left in an insensible condition.
The court motioned for George Smith to stand up.
He did so and every
eye was upon a pale face nearly covered with a growth of dark whiskers.
The court said:
'George Smith, some time since a grand jury of
Grayson County, Tex.,
found a bill of indictment, charging you with the murder of John
be James] Isbell, in this county. You were given a trial before a petit
jury and by them found guilty of murder in the first degree and the
assessed at death. A motion for a new trial was presented and after a
overruled. The case was appealed to the highest tribunal in Texas and
them affirmed. Is there any reason why the sentence of the court should
not be passed upon you?
The prisoner looked at the court squarely in the
face and answered,
'It is then my duty to remand you to the custody
of the sheriff,
to be by him held until Friday, the 8th of July, when within the hours
prescribed by law you shall be hanged by the neck until dead.'
There was a clanking of chains, a rattling of
shackles, and George
Smith went back to jail to drag out the six weeks of life left to him.
It is understood that Massey is now in the
Dallas county jail, where
he was taken last Tuesday.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 22,
Seeking to Save Smith
SHERMAN, Tex., May 21. - A petition for the
commutation of the sentence
of George Smith to life imprisonment is still being circulated, but a
petition protesting against any change from the verdict of the jury,
by nearly everybody in Bells and vicinity, was presented to the
as he passed through Bells a few days since. It is also stated that the
governor was shown the room in which the killing took place. His
of course, said neither yea or nay'
George Smith, who is to hang July 8 is still
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 23,
HIS LAST NIGHT.
George Smith Departs To-Day
SHERMAN, Tex., July 7. - George Smith entered
upon his last night
on earth with all the calm exterior that he has evinced since the very
beginning. He has talked but little of himself. He has selected a dark
blue suit. The trap will be sprung at 2:30 to-morrow evening.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) July 8,
THAT IS PRETTY TIGHT.
SUCH WERE GEORGE SMITH'S WORDS AS THE TRAP FELL.
Grayson County's First Legal Execution in
Thirteen Years ' He Killed
a City Marshal.
SHERMAN, Tex., July 8 . - It has been over
thirteen years since a
man suffered the death penalty in Grayson county, the last being ______
Toettle, who killed Julius Brennan in Denison.
George Smith, the condemned man, was standing
with his hands placed
against the cell grating gazing out of the east window yesterday when
sun went down. Silently he stood and gazed till the tints and
in the clouds began to dim and the shadows of evening crept into the
With a deep drawn sigh he turned, placed tow or three times across the
iron floor and then sat down.
For just a few moments he bowed his head once in
his hands, and
then arising he began chatting pleasantly with the death watch and his
fellow cell mate, Henry Garbalt.
He was the same stout hearted George Smith
again. He has talked
a great deal about the preliminaries of the execution. He desired of
Reidnoir to know why it was necessary to place a black cap over his
and if this was to prevent his seeing the execution. He was told that
the face of those who were executed would become distorted and that it
was not desired to have anything more than necessarily unpleasant
an execution. He replied that this was certainly right.
He wanted to know why he would be executed in
his stocking feet
and rather laughingly remarked that he supposed they would have let him
die with his boots on. He ate supper with apparent relish at the usual
He had several little delicacies furnished him
and was very appreciative
of the enine?'. It has been his custom to talk to the death watch until
10 or 11 o'clock in the evening and last nigh was no exception and the
general drift of his conversation did not majorially differ from what
has been all along.
Once in a while he simply remarked: "This is my
last night here."
This he said without the least signs of weakness.
At 11 o'clock he bade the watch good night and
went to sleep. His
rest was practically unbroken and the watchman in the after part of the
night noticed nothing unusual in the actions of the prisoner. He arose
at 7 o'clock, or perhaps a little earlier, this morning. He saluted his
fellow prisoners very pleasantly and passed a cheerful 'Good morning'
the watchman outside. He ate the regular breakfast and was favored
with quite a number of little delicacies.
At 8:30 he was shaved and very soon after
received his attorney,
Captain J.D. Woods, who inquired if there was any word or message he
to send to any one. To this he made his stereotyped reply: 'There is
that I wish to say; it would do no one any good.'
A cigar was offered him this morning, but Smith
remarked that was
a habit he had never indulged in, accepted the preferred weed, but
it to Garbalt, his cell mate. Several times he has asked if he would be
allowed to see his coffin. This morning when Dr. E.H. Winn, the prison
physician, called Smith?s face lighted up in expectancy. He began a
and detailed inquiry of the sensation experienced by a man when
execution by hanging. He desired to know the length of time required
death to ensue or if unconsciousness came before death.
He seemed gratified at the explanation of the
physician that death
was practically painless, and said he had heard so. With the assistance
of Garbalt at 9 a.m. he began to dress himself.
The suit, which is of his own selection, is of
dark blue. It was
thought for awhile that he would select a soft flannel shirt, but a
shirt with a turn down collar was finally selected.
When at 10 o'clock he was fully attired George
Smith was decidedly
a handsome man.
Shortly after 12 o'clock Smith finished eating a
hearty meal, in
which there was a number of delicacies and any little thing he
a desire for.
At 2:08 p.m. Drs. Winn and King were admitted
and injected one-forth
of a grain of morphine into his arm. At 2:18 the sheriff, accompanied
the newspaper men present, went to the cell, and there the death
When the Sheriff had finished and turned away
Smith took one or
two strides across his cell and taking his handkerchief, wiped the
from his brow. It was 2:23 when the iron door of the cell was swung
and Smith with a firm step came out and walked with the sheriff to the
iron trap. Of all the crowd there is little doubt that he was as cool
collected as any man there. He stepped upon the door, and at the
of Sheriff McAfee, turned his face to the east. He said nothing, but
around and scanned the crowd. He was still cool, and as the deputies
pinioning his legs he looked at them intently. When they began to tie
his arms he remarked:
'Wouldn't you just as soon tie them in front of
When told that they would have to be tied behind
him, he said 'All
right,' and requested that they be more securely pinioned, which was
His limbs having been tied the prisoner straightened up and as the
cap was being placed on his head he looked at Rev. Gibbs, who stood
him, and said: "Good bye, Mr. Gibb.' Then the black mask came down and
George Smith had looked for the last time on earth.
When the cap was being adjusted he said: 'A
fellow can't breathe
much in this,' and his last words were, 'That is pretty tight,' as the
know was drawn down by the sheriff.
At 2:23 the trap was sprung, and the body shot
with rapidity through
the open door. The rope tightened up and gave the body a swing, but not
a muscle quivered in the suspended body. There were none of the
twisting and writhings which usually sicken spectators.
For thirteen minutes there were evidences of
pulse beating. In fifteen
minutes he was pronounced dead by his prison physician and his
His body was immediately cut down and place on an iron cot brought in
the hospital department. His neck was found by the physicians to have
broken and Dr. Winn said to the reporter: 'He suffered no pain in
In a few minutes the body was placed in a nice
by a public subscription, and was turned over to some of his old
and neighbors in Choctaw, where it will be taken for burial. There was
not a single event of any annoying nature in the whole execution, which
was very successful.
In January, 1891, Smith killed City Marshal
Isbell of Bells while
trying to hold up a whole store.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) July 9,
Would Not Disgrace His Family.
SHERMAN, Tex., July 9. - The remains of George
Smith were buried
at Choctaw to-day. Mrs. Wright, the lady who constantly visited him
his incarceration awaiting execution, says she has good reason to
that he was not from Michigan, but came from a good family, having run
away from home when he was quite young. It was because he did not
to have his family disgraced that he did not let his true identity be
She does not think he name was George Smith.
Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) July 11,
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