INDIANOLA, April 9.--(Special)--Senator Berry is exhausting himself, his eloquence and oratory in the final effort of the defense to clear Margaret Hossack of the charge of murder. It is said to be the master effort of his life, and it would be hard to conceive of a more affecting plea than that which he has placed before the jury for its consideration during the last two hours of the morning session. At times the jury without an exception was moved to tears. Strong men who had not shed a tear in years sat in their seats mopping their eyes and compressing their lips in a vain effort to suppress the emotion caused by the senator's eloquent plea.
The theory of the defense, as it appeared from his argument, is that the insane man, William Haines, now confined in a mad house, is the man who, in a crazy moment, influenced by some fancied wrong, killed the best friend he had. Stress was laid on the fact that on the night of the murder when he was requested to come to the house, he declined to go out, stating he was afraid, that he knew there were tramps about, that he knew one of them had been on his porch, and that despite the urgent appeals of Cassie Hossack, he refused to go to the scene of the tragedy. His actions on that night are pointed to and the question is asked, "Why did he do so?"
Notwithstanding the superb effort of Senator Berry and the emotion exhibition by the jurors, it is apparent that while he is affecting he is not influencing them. It is certain that when Attorney McNeil closes the argument for the prosecution the effect of Senator Berry's eloquence will have been lost and the verdict, if any at all is reached, can hardly be acquittal.
Senator Berry commenced his argument by calling the attention of the jury to the Hossack family and impressing upon it the fact that it had their fate in its hands. He referred feelingly to the toddling grandchildren and told the jury that through all the time God spared them to live their future happiness was in its hands. Her stated that a terrible crime had been committed, but arraigned the prosecution for the statement that it was the duty of the jury to ascertain the perpetrator of that crime. He emphasized the fact that it was the jury's duty to determine only the guilt or innocence of the accused; that it was to keep close to the proposition and determine whether or not the crime was committed by the defendant.
He then took up the history of the family, showing that the Hossacks came to Iowa in 1867 instead of 1868.
" You have heard, I am sorry to say, the reflection cast upon the family by the county attorney," said Senator Berry. "Have you heard anything from one of them that was hard to believe? From Alexander to little Ivan, whoever thought their story to be other than the truth? Little Ivan would not say he did not put the ax anywhere but in the granary, although he knew it would incriminate his mother, and he admitted the possibility of having put it there. I ask you to look the facts in the face to which the family have testified, and believe they were telling facts."
While Senator Berry was speaking, the defendant, surrounded by her children, presented a most pathetic scene. For the first time since the trial began it would seem they appreciated the awful position in which their mother is placed and that the final effort of their lawyers is being made to show her innocence.
Time after time a tear stained face would be raised and an anxious gaze directed toward the jury. The boys of the family were even more affected than the girls. John Hossack, Jr., who has all along occupied a chair close to the elbow of Judge Henderson, sat with his head bowed while his gigantic frame shook with great sobs and he choked with emotion. At times when Senator Berry would pause the sobbing of this man was audible throughout the room. Its effect upon the spectators can only be described by the word terrific.
Even the attorneys for the prosecution were seen to turn away their heads fearful lest the anguish of the family would unman them and the jury would have an impression which they could not afterwards remove.
At one time Attorney McNeil, the nestor of the Warren county bar, whose practice has extended over a half century, was so affected by the spectacle presented by the family group that he bowed his head and silently wept.
When court adjourned at noon fully two thousand people went out in the sunshine, their faces stained by the tears which had coursed down their cheeks during the periods when Senator Berry close [sic] his most pathetic appeals.
Senator Berry resumed his argument at 1:30 and indicated that he would hold the floor the remainder of the afternoon. Just before 3 o`clock he made the sensational declaration that the sheet introduced in evidence by the prosecution as that taken from the bed on which John Hossack was murdered was not the sheet actually found there. In this manner he sought to counteract the theory of the prosecution that the blood spots on the under side of the sheet could not have got there had Mrs. Hossack been in bed at the time of the murder and the two covered with the bed clothing.
During his address this afternoon the defendant sat holding her little grandchild, softly weeping, the tears falling on its head.
It is expected that Attorney McNeil will occupy the forenoon tomorrow in closing for the prosecution and that the judge will instruct the jury at 1:30, the jury retiring about 2 o`clock. Few predict a verdict short of twenty-four hours.
When County Attorney Clammer closed his opening argument for the prosecution yesterday and retired to his seat the court room rang with the echo of his closing sentences. "She did it, gentlemen, and I ask you to return it to her in kind. That having considered all the evidence in this case, as honorable, honest men, knowing, as you do, your enormous responsibility, that you return to her a debt at the hands of the law. She has forfeited her right to live, she should be as John Hossack, who lies rotting beneath the ground."
What an effect had these words upon the jurors!
The theory of the prosecution is simple. Mrs. Hossack, according to it, killed her husband. Her motives were two, to rid herself of one she had come to hate and to gain possession of the property. It was maintained by the prosecution that from the time of their marriage to the day of the murder there had been a terrible secret--the marriage had not been a love marriage, but forced upon them by the critical condition of Margaret Murchison. The prosecution, referring to the testimony of Donald Murchison, a brother of the defendant, pointed to the statement that the Hossacks were married in the fall of 1868, then to the age of Alex Hossack--he had been born in August of that year. Here the prosecution found the solution to Frank Keller's statement that John Hossack had made to him-this was the secret between Margaret, himself and his God that he would carry to the grave. It was this, the prosecution alleged, which made their domestic relations so stormy.
The county attorney sought to explain the presence of blood spots on the back of Mrs. Hossack's night shirt on the ground that she had climbed out of bed, secured the axe and delivered the first blow while standing on the rug at the side of the bed; that while the axe was raised to strike the second blow the blood dripped down on the back of her garment. He sought to demonstrate that she must have been out of bed when the blow was struck for the reason that there was blood on the under side of the sheet under which they had been sleeping and that it could only have got there by Mrs. Hossack having turned the covers back when she got up and permitting them to remain turned back while the blow was struck.
Attorney Henderson for the defense followed the county attorney, speaking late yesterday afternoon and early today. He denounced his predecessor's reference to the relations of the defendant and John Hossack prior to their marriage and the birth of their child soon afterward as uncalled for.