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Daniel McFarland Trial: 1870

Not The First Time, The Libertine's Letter, Insanity Defense, … In The Day Of Vengeance"

Defendant: Daniel McFarland
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Elbridge T. Gerry, John Graham, Charles Spencer
Chief Prosecutors: Noah Davis, Samuel Garvin
Judge: (No record of first name) Hackett
Place: New York, New York
Date of Trial: April 4-May 10, 1870
Verdict: Not guilty

SIGNIFICANCE: This trial underscores several points that seem just as relevant today as they were more than 13 decades ago: that skillful lawyering can acquit a clearly guilty murderer, that an abused wife can find true love in a second marriage, that talented members of the theatrical and literary world lead headline-producing lives.

Late in the afternoon of November 25, 1869, Albert Deane Richardson, a 36-year-old journalist who had covered Civil War battles for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, walked into the Tribune offices in New York's Printing House Square. He went to the first-floor counting room to see if one of its pigeonholes held a letter from his fiancee, an actress and writer named Abby Sage, who was visiting Massachusetts. As Richardson neared the mail desk, a figure rose from the shadows, pointed a pistol at him from five feet away, fired, and ran.

Shot in the stomach, Richardson climbed four flights to the paper's editorial offices. A doctor administered morphine and friends escorted him to the Astor House hotel, two blocks down Park Row.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882