Oklahoma

STATE EXECUTIONS NEWS ARTICLES

ROBERT COLTON

The First Man Hanged – Vinita, I. T., Sept. 4, - Robert Colton, colored, was the first man to be hanged legally in the Northern district of the Indian Territory. He was executed at noon today. He confessed that last year he murdered his wife, literally cutting her body into pieces. (The Sun, Chanute, Kansas, September 4, 1906, Tuesday, page 1)

FINLEY PORTER

Negro Slayer Dies Tonight

McAlester, April 15 – Finley Porter, twice a killer, spent his last day quietly in death cell today awaiting hopefully for some official action which might stave off his execution after midnight tonight.

Warden Fred Hunt and prison officials had not told him that his last hope of official intervention went glimmering when acting Governor James E. Berry said he would not interfere with the Pittsburg county court sentence, affirmed by the criminal court of appeals.

The penitentiary staff made the customary gesture of offering Porter despite rationing anything he     wanted to eat at meals today but the 40 year old negro made no special requests.

He’s been calm and stoical, said the warden. We understand he has conferred with the chaplain and  made his peace but he has offered no statement about the slaying.

Hunt referred to the second death caused by Porter – that of his prison cellmate, L. Z. Beacham, also a negro, April 28, 1941, who was stabbed to death while Porter was serving life for slaying his wife at Okmulgee.

Activing Governor James E. Berry said today he would not interfere with the execution of Finley Porter, 40 year old negro slayer sentenced to die in the electric chair at McAlester tonight.

Berry said the case had not been mentioned to him and that he was perfectly satisfied with the verdict of the court and jury and the opinion of the criminal court of appeals which affirmed the sentence.

Porter, Okmulgee county farmer who already had served 16 years of life term for murdering his wife was convicted in Pittsburg county of slashing to death a young negro cell mate.

It was the second time Berry had found himself installed as acting governor on execution eve. It occurred once during the Phillips administration. (Ada Evening News, April 15, 1943)

Arthur Gooch

Gooch Loses Death Fight

Kidnaping Officer Violates Lindbergh Law, High Court Holds

Washington, Feb. 3 (AP) – The supreme court ruled Monday that kidnaping of an officer to avoid arrest constitutes a violation of the Lindbergh kidnaping law.

The ruling was on an appeal by Arthur Gooch, sentenced to die for assisting in kidnaping two police officers at Paris, Texas, and transporting them into Oklahoma.

The unanimous opinion, delivered by Justice McReynolds, was the first the high tribunal has handed down concerning the Lindbergh law.

Gooch appealed his conviction to the tenth circuit court at Denver. That tribunal asked the supreme court for instructions, presenting two questions:

“Is holding an officer to avoid arrest within the meaning of the phrase “held for ransom or reward or otherwise” in the act?

“Is it an offense to k idnap and transport a person in interstate commerce for the purpose of preventing the arrest of the kidnapers?”

Answers will be sent to the circuit court for appropriate action.

The law was enacted three months after the kidnaping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932. It was strengthened in 1934 by the words Gooch challenged.

Gooch and Ambrose Nix were alleged to have been questioned at a filling station on Nov. 26, 1934 by R. N. Baker and H. R. Marks officers. They were charged with compelling the officers to get into a police car and with driving in it to the vicinity of Snow, Okla., where the policemen were released.

Justice McReynolds said “evidently congress intended to prevent transportation in interstate or foreign commerce of persons who were being unlawfully restrained in order that the captor might secure some benefit to himself. And this is adequately expressed by the words of the enactment.”

He added that “while penal statutes are narrowly construed, this does not require rejection of that sense of the words which best harmonizes with the context and the end in view.” (Heraldo de Brownsville (Brownsville, Texas), Tuesday, February 4, 1936, page 2)

Arthur Gooch, Doomed Under Lindbergh Law, Loses Appeal to President

McAlester, Okla. (AP) – Arthur Gooch, first man doomed to die under the Lindbergh law, resigned himself to death Monday night as his last resort – an appeal to President Roosevelt for executive clemency – failed.

Gooch is under sentence to be hanged at Oklahoma penitentiary June 19.

The “small time gunman,” whose abduction of H. R. Marks and R. N. Baker, two Paris, Texas, officers, November 24, 1934, started him on the road to the gallows, lost hope as word of the presidential decision reached him in death row.

“There’s nothing more to be done,” he said.

The tenth district circuit court of appeals at Denver upheld the death decree of Federal Judge Robert L. Williams.

The United States supreme court refused to review the case. W. F. Rampendahl, Gooch’s attorney, presented the case to the President.

“Death is death,” commented Gooch gloomily. “It’s something we all try to avoid as long as we can. But you won’t find me afraid when the time comes.”

The men whom Gooch was convicted of abducting were confident he was “getting what is coming to him.”

Blames Women

At Chickasha, the state peace officers in convention adopted a motion directing a message be sent to the President and attorney general asking “no interference with the jury’s verdict,” in the Gooch case.

“It’s bad news for me,” said Gooch. “I had been expecting a better break. When this all went up to Washington it hurt my chances.”

Gooch said he also believed the work of women’s groups in his behalf had an unfavorable reaction on Judge Williams.

Gooch, and a companion, Ambrose Nix, staged a series of hold ups in which victims were bound.

After the abduction of the two officers, Gooch and Nix were trapped by heavily-armed officers near Okemah in December of 1934. (Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) Wednesday, June 10, 1936, page 2)

President Denies Gooch Plea for Second Time

Washington, June 18 (AP) – President Roosevelt again refused Thursday to commute to life imprisonment the death sentence of Arthur Gooch, Oklahoma kidnaper. Gooch is scheduled to hang Friday morning in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester.

Breaking the traditional silence which surrounds his rule over pardon pleas, the President discussed his decision in a statement issued by the Department of Justice.

Gooch, convicted because of the kidnaping of two police officers at Paris, Texas, and the injury of one officer, is the first man to receive the death penalty under an amendment to the Lindbergh law passed in 1934 designed to protect police officers. (Dallas Morning News, (Dallas, Texas), Friday, June 19, 1936, page 7)

Gooch is Executed for Kidnap Crime

First Lindbergh Law Victim Hanged in Oklahoma Early Today

McAlester, Okla., June 19 – Arthur Gooch, 27, who kidnaped two Texas officers and released them unharmed after carrying them into Oklahoma, was hanged today, first person to die for violate of the Lindbergh law.

Gooch dropped through the trap at 5:07 a.m. and was declared dead 15 minutes later. Until the last he hoped for executive clemency.

Gooch was convicted of kidnaping R. U. Baker and H. R. Marks in Paris, Texas, to escape arrest. The men were released at Snow, Okla., unharmed except for a cut Baker suffered when he fell against a plate glass in a scuffle with Gooch and Ambrose Nix, who was slain by officers at Okemah when Gooch was captured.

Gooch showed no emotion as he mounted the steps of the gallows. He told United States Deputy Marshal George Hall he had no statement to make.

Doctors waited several minutes after examining the body before they pronounced Gooch officially dead.

A crowd of approximately 300, including prison and State officials, watched him die. Executioner Rich Owen, who has sent 53 men to death, tripped the drop.

Gooch’s final hope for clemency did not fail until last night when President Roosevelt denied an appeal for a pardon.

He walked almost an eighth of a mile to the scaffold, which was inside an extension of the main prison walls.

Last night Gooch heard that the President had denied his plea. (Trenton Evening Times, (Trenton, New Jersey), Friday, June 19, 1936, page 4)

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