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Chester Gillette Trial: 1906

Tragedy At Big Moose Lake

On the morning of July 11, Gillette took Brown out in a rowboat. As was reconstructed later, Gillette rowed Brown around the lake for a while, then when they were out of sight, he hit her with a tennis racquet and threw her into the lake. Whether the blows killed her instantly or she died of drowning was never made clear. At any rate, after returning to shore, Gillette buried the racquet along the shore and left for another hotel. Gillette checked in at the nearby Arrowhead Inn and later asked the desk clerk whether there had been a drowning reported at Big Moose Lake. When Brown's body was found in the lake shortly thereafter, the police quickly tracked down Gillette.

Gillette claimed that Brown committed suicide by jumping in the water after he started to talk with her about the baby. However, Gillette's behavior didn't betray grief or sorrow. Further, someone discovered the tennis racquet Gillette had buried, broken as if from striking hard blows. The police arrested Gillette, charged him with Brown's murder, and kept him in the Herkimer County jail pending his trial. The press, always eager for a juicy society scandal, made him famous. From his cell, Gillette sold pictures of himself and used the proceeds to have hotel caterers deliver meals to his cell.

On November 12, 1906, Gillette's trial began. The prosecutor was District Attorney George W. Ward, with Judge Irving R. Devendorf presiding. Gillette's defense lawyers were Albert M. Mills and Charles D. Thomas.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Chester Gillette Trial: 1906 - Tragedy At Big Moose Lake, Chester Gillette: Murderer Or Coward?, Ward Finishes His Closing Argument