The Caddo Herald
June 16, 1916 (front page)
McDarment Trial Began This Week
Muskogee, June 12- The trial of Corley P. McDarment, charged with the killing of Edgar Watts, the 18-year-old school student in the Wagoner High School Feb. 10, began this morning.
What is said to be one of the largest crowds ever attending a case here is present to hear the testimony.
The regular jury panel was exhausted in an attempt to secure the jury, only eight men being accepted from the regular panel. Fifty extra venire men were ordered at once and the jury was completed this afternoon.
McDarment’s father, brother, and wife are here to attend the trial, as well as many friends.
McDarment seems to be much cheered by the presence of his Durant friends, and is confident of acquittal.
Young Watts was killed in the basement of the high school at noon. Clark Moss, his chum, 18 years old, was severely wounded. Four shots were fired. The door to the basement was locked and only the three were in the room at the time, Watts, Moss, and McDarment. On the floor almost touching Moss’ outstretched fingers lay a revolver- McDarment’s.
Moss testified that McDarment shot both him and Watts. It is known the defense will be that his revolver was stolen from his overcoat pocket the night before the tragedy. He will blame one of the boys for firing the shots.
When McDarment was brought to the Muskogee county jail that night to avoid any violence the right cuff of his shirt was powder burned. It was the same shirt he wore when Watts was killed. The professor will declare that his cuff was powder marked as he knocked aside a pistol held in the hand of one of the boys.
Watts and Moss were known as school “smart alecs”. During the preliminary Moss admitted that they had continually annoyed McDarment, making it almost impossible for him to hear class. On the day the tragedy occurred, the professor had sent the two to the basement, telling them that he would be down in a minute to discipline them. It is the theory of the defense that when he attempted to chastise the boys, one of them drew a revolver and that in the struggle which followed Watts was killed and Moss was wounded.
The case was brought to Muskogee on a change of venue from Wagoner County.
In 1912-13 McDarment taught school in Caddo and has many friends here who hope that the proof of the circumstances will be such as to ___ (can’t read) acquittal.
June 16, 1916 (inside page)
McDarment Trial Shows Defense
Corley P. McDarment, dapper “effeminate” Wagoner high school teacher, took the stand in R. P. deGriffenreid’s district court yesterday afternoon and told his story of the mysterious affray in which Edgar Watts lost his life.
He was his own best witness. For more than three hours he occupied the witness chair and when court adjourned with Thomas H. Owen, assisting the prosecution, standing before him savagely shaking the revolver with which Edgar Watts was killed, in his face, his story had not been shaken.
Yesterday furnished even more thrills for the great audience that jammed the court room than the day before. The day was marked by a clash between Moman Pruitt, chief counsel for the defense and Judge deGraffenreid that for a moment threatened to place the attorney behind the bars for contempt.
It ended when the court almost shrieked at the attorney: “That’s none of your business!” Pruitt just as heatedly replied: “I’ll make it some of my business!”
Although the defense suffered from a ruling of the court that excluded testimony which Pruitt said was most vital, all in all the day was McDarment’s.
James Guthrie, night jailer at the Muskogee County jail, and on duty the day following the tragedy when McDarment was brought to Muskogee to avoid any hostile demonstration against him, swore that the cuff of the shirt which McDarment wore was powder burned.
McDarment’s recitation of the tragedy was dramatic. He rose from the witness chair and enacted, as nearly as possible, the struggle for the weapon with which Edgar Watts was killed.
He had gone into the laboratory first, he said, for his lunch, which he carried from his home in his overcoat pocket. Edgar Watts followed him and Clark Moss followed Watts.
McDarment told of the affray in a straightforward manner. In talking of the dead boy he said he was a good boy and that he had no trouble with him except sometimes in class.
In describing how the shooting occurred he said to Watts, “you boys have been cutting up too much...” Then Edgar’s face took on a look of surprise and he cried, “Professor, look at Clark!” “When he said that I turned and there was this pistol in my face. I threw up both my arms like this and hit the pistol or his wrist and the gun went off.”
As McDarment testified, Jesse Watts, father of the dead boy, bent forward in his chair, chin on his hands, peering intently at the witness. Throughout the long examination he never took his eyes from the prisoner. At his side sat his wife, evidently as interested as he.
McDarment spoke to the jury, looking them squarely in the face. Jurors strained forward in their chairs in order to catch every word he uttered, in a voice so low that the sound hardly reached the counsel table.