M. Betterton Executed for Murder of Wife
At McAlester Penitentiary Last Friday Morning at 12:45 O’clock
McAlester, July 10, - At about a quarter to 1 o’clock Friday
morning, the death penalty was assessed against Monroe Betterton, for the
murder of his wife at Vinita on July 9, 1919. His electrocution took place in
the death chamber of the state prison here just a year from the date he killed
Betterton held up well throughout the ordeal until he was
being strapped in the electric chair, when he suddenly collapsed. The first
application of the 2300 volts of electric current from the prison dynamo
produced death, but a second and third application of the current with short
intervention of time was applied to make sure that life was extinct.
The execution took place in the presence of prison
officials, County Attorney Monk and others specified by law to witness such
execution, and also by number of outside
witnesses admitted by special request.
Betterton was attended by the prison chaplain who had been
with him during his last hours. He stoutly maintained his innocence to the end
declaring that he did not kill his wife, but that she was murdered by another
and he was charged with the crime because of his record in Missouri. He had
killed a woman in that state, and had served a portion of a life sentence for
the crime but had been paroled.
His case in this state had been given a careful review by the
courts. He admitted that he had had a fair trial before the district judge, and
the sentence had been affirmed by the highest state court. A commission of
expert physicians sent to the state prison by Governor Robertson to examine
into the sanity of Betterton and they reported him sane so that Governor
Robertson declined to interfere in any manner with the judgment of the court.
In his trial in the district court, Betterton’s own daughter
appeared as a witness against him, the evidence being that he killed his wife
while she was on her knees appealing to him for money.
Betterton is the second white man to be executed at the
prison. (McCurtain Gazette, Wednesday, July 14, 1920, front page)
T. R. BRAUGHT
Braught Executed This A. M. – Steel Nerve to Last Minute –
Gets Electric Volts 12:36 This Morning
McAlister, Okla., May 23 – T. R. Braught was executed at the
state penitentiary here this morning at 1:36 a.m. for the murder of Otis
Robbins in 1917. He maintained his steel nerve to the last, refusing to take a
stimulant and claiming the killing of Robbins was accidental. After kneeling in
prayer before the electric chair Braught watched the adjustment of electrodes,
smiling until the death mask was put on. The body was turned over to relatives
today for burial at Afton, Oklahoma.
McAllister, Okla., May 22 – Five relatives of T. R. Braught,
sentenced to be electrocuted came here to be electrocuted Friday, came here
today to be with him as much as possible during the last few hours of his life.
They are B. C. Braught, Bartlesville; Z. W. Braught, Afton; Miss Cretal
Braught, Bartlesville and Mrs. S. F. Houk, Fairland, brothers and sisters, and
C. E. Dawson, Afton, brother in law.
The five engaged in
prayer meeting with Braught at his death cell today, led by Rev. W. W.
Chancellor, pastor of the First Baptist church. Braught was locked inside his
cage while the others sang and prayed in the chill, dampe underground passage.
None of them gave way to emotions. All were apparently
reconciled to the man’s fate. He himself was altermately crying and laughing.
Braught did not ask for any special delicacies for his last
meal. He barely touched what was brought him of the regular prison fare.
The hour for the execution is set between 12 and 1 o’clock
Friday morning. The relatives came here to remove the body to Afton, the family
home. This is the first visit they have made since the prisoner came here in
Governor Robertson has held to the opinion to date that so
far no cause has been shown why the courts, decree should not be carried out.
Braught is alleged to have killed Otis Robbins in a garage
at Oilton, Okla., July 1, 1917, while the latter was standing defenseless
pleading for his life, then to have lined five witnesses against a wall and at
the point of a gun, to have forced them to take oath to swear on the witness
stand that he had shot in self-defense. Braught was some months later convicted
of the murder of Robbins and sentenced to die in the electric chair.
Only two white men have been legally executed in Oklahoma
since statehood, but they went to death on the gallows before the state
legislature substituted, in 1913, electrocution in death penalty cases. Braught’s
execution will be the fifteenth since statehood.
Fred C. Switzer, newly appointed warden of the state
penitentiary will be in the death chamber when Braught is executed.
Although the prison officials say is the most remarkable
nerve they have ever witnessed and declaring that he has made peace with his
God and is ready to die, Braught will go to the chair hoping against hope that
Governor Robertson’s executive hand will save him.
While I am perfectly resigned to go, the spirit seems to
tell me that I am not going to be executed, said Braught.
Braught’s head was shaved clean and after his bath he was
dressed in a complete new outfit for his march to the death chair.
He was given a new suit of summer knee length underwear,
soft white shirt with collar attached, a dark blue serge suit of a business cut
black shoes, black socks and a black bow tie. The legs of his trousers were
slit to permit contact of the electrodes with his flesh.
He chatted freely with the attendants while they were
dressing him and appeared the least concerned of any around the prison about
what was soon to happen.
The last religious services for the condemned man were held
in the passageway just outside his cell at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
The services, which consisted of reading of the Bible,
prayer and singing were conducted by A. B. Johnson, prison chaplin, and Rev. W.
W. Chancellor, pastor of the First Baptist church of McAlister. Two brothers,
two sisters and the death watch were the only ones who attended the services.
Braught asked for the reading of the fourteenth chapter of
John, “I go to prepare a place for you.” This was followed by singing of “Lead,
Kindly Light,” and “I Am Going Home,” which was led by Braught’s sisters.
Braught joined in the singing with apparent comfort and enthusiasm.
This was followed by a short prayer and then prison attaches
with his watch and is maintained over brothers and sisters. The strict Braught
made it necessary for him to bid his last farewell through the bars of his
The brothers and sisters wept bitterly, but Braught showed
little emotion. Tears rolled down his cheek, however, as he said goodbye to the
sister who has worked almost incessantly for the last month to save him from
“It is not that I must die within a few hours that hurts,
but it is the thought that I have brought this disgrace and humiliation upon
you,” he sobbed.
Braught’s remarkable nerve and his excellent record during
the twenty months he has been here has won for him the admiration and sympathy
of prison attaches who have come in contact with him.
“He has been a model prisoner and the more we know him and
the more we talk with him the more difficult it gets to execute him,” said one
of the prison officials.
Braught has been spending his last hours reading his Bible
and listening to words of consolation from the prison chaplin. He has displayed
a remarkable memory and can quote from those passages in the Scripture in which
he finds the greatest solace and comfort.
Sudden death for me means sudden glory before the great
white throne, said Braught as he discussed his impending fate with a coolness
and deliberation that was almost uncanny. Dressed in white tennis shoes, khaki
shirt and trousers he stood at the door of his cell for more than thirty
minutes and chatted about his fate and things generally.
The details of the crime for which morning, together with
all the facts that lead up to the tragedy are familiar to our readers. (Drumright
Evening Derrick, Friday, May 23, 1919)
Argued in Criminal Court of Appeals
Guthrie, Okla., July – The criminal court of appeals is
hearing arguments this week on a heavy docket of criminal cases. One capital
case that of Henry T. Armstrong under sentence of death for the murder of Isaac
Fell near Perry last winter was argued today and there were several other cases
of special note. One of the most famous was that of Cyrus Raspberry, sentenced
to life imprisonment for his part in holding up seventy-five Bulgarians
employed in a railroad construction camp near Stroud. The robbery threatened
for a time to become an international incident and only the prompt manner in
which justice was meted out to the robbers prevented serious complications.
Wesley and Yandall charged with killing Justice L. R. Ginn
at McComb in 1905 whose case had been in the court five years and to the
supreme court once before and Walter Reed under sentence of ten years for
killing Elmer Emmons in Kiowa county also had their pleas for new trials
presented today. Another well known case on the list is that of D. C. Stout,
alleged to be one of the proprietors of the Southern club at Oklahoma City
charge with violating the prohibitory law. (Perry Enterprise-Times, Thursday, July
8, 1909, front page)
Murderer Armstrong after exhausting every means at his
command without bettering his case, will be hanged on Friday, November 19th,
next. (Red Rock Opinion, Friday, October 22, 1909, front page)
Armstrong Goes to Last Court
Perry, Okla. – The soul of Henry Armstrong was flashed into
eternity at 10:33 1-2 Friday morning. At 10:55 he was pronounced dead by
physicians, Drs. Bruce Watson and E. B. Brengle. At 11 o’clock the body was
sent to the Kremin & Newton undertaking parlor and will be shipped to
Pawnee for burial. He went to his death without a tremor but to the last
protested his innocence of the crime of which he was convicted. (The Capitol
Hill Weekly News, Thursday, November 25, 1909, front page)