Oklahoma

STATE EXECUTIONS NEWS ARTICLES

MONROE BETTERTON

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 his wife.

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 October, 1917.

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 cell.

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 the chair.

“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)                    

Henry Armstrong

Armstrong Case

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)

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