The Caddo Herald
June 23, 1916
McDarment Free of Murder Charge
The jury brought in the verdict of not guilty at Muskogee last Saturday morning, which freed Corley P. McDarment of the charge of murdering Edgar Watts at Wagoner Feb. 10th of this year.
The jury deliberated on the case less than an hour, and took only one ballot in the matter. Under the charge of the court the jury must either find him not guilty or give him a life sentence or the death penalty. In the case evidently the jury found no justification for so severer a sentence.
McDarment was charged with killing Edgar Watts, a high school pupil of his in an affray which he, the dead youth, and Clark Moss had in the basement of the Wagoner High School building. Watts was killed and Moss was severely wounded. The Moss boy charge McDarment with the killing, and McDarment contended that the killing was done while the gun was in the hands of the Moss boy.
The Jury had to decide the question of truthfulness between the two main witnesses. Evidently it believed McDarment’s story the most probable.
McDarment’s demeanor before the tragedy happened, his life in Durant and Caddo, his conduct in the Muskogee jail, and his bearing throughout the trial were his best defenses. He bore a faultless reputation; his friends were numerous and they spared no pains or expense to aid him in his severe trial.
The fact that there were several attorneys hired by the family of the murdered boy to aid the prosecution we believe justifies a few remarks along this line: whenever in a criminal action the relatives of the injured party seek vengeance by means of hired attorneys, usually the accused gets off more easily than he otherwise would, for the simple reason that the case then smacks of persecution and whenever persecution starts, public sympathy usually is with the persecuted.
The sate provides prosecuting attorneys to attend to its side of the case, and they usually are pretty successful in applying the law to the guilty without hired attorneys seeking further to punish the defendant. In this case these prosecuting attorneys did nothing that was against legal ethics; they were honorably practicing their profession and no censure can bear against them, but it is wrong in principle though approved of in practice.
The Herald, knowing McDarment as we did, cannot believe but that the jury was right in the verdict they brought in. The incident was deplorable; but we do not think the teacher was to blame. It was a combination of unfortunate circumstances, regrettable, deplorable, and we deeply sympathize with the family whose loved one was lost. Exactly how the killing occurred probably never will be known, for in the excitement of the moment the principles themselves do not know all that occurred.