March 2, 1918, continued
BUTLER GUILTY SAYS JURY WITH PLEA OF MERCY
William Butler, the Eagle Point rancher charged with the murder of Donald Stewart, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Stewart of Central Point, the night of October 29, was found guilty of manslaughter, with a recommendation for clemency, by a jury in the circuit court early this morning. The jury was out eight hours and a half.
The penalty for manslaughter is a penitentiary sentence of from one to fifteen years, and a fine of not to exceed $5,000.
When brought into court this morning Butler looked pale and haggard and seemed nervous. Circuit Court Calkins announced that Butler would be sentenced next Saturday, the dejected man was taken back to the county jail.
Butler was a bitterly disappointed man over his conviction. He was so sure of being exonerated of the murder charge by the jury that last night before the jury came in he had all his effects packed up at the jail, expecting that he would be able to depart for home as soon as the jury reported.
The evidence against Butler was purely circumstantial. County Prosecutor Roberts received many congratulations over obtaining a verdict, as the case was very hard fought by the defense.
Stewart was sent to the Butler place by county authorities the night of October 29th, to see who was putting up a portion of the Butler fence over the county highway. Butler had been arrested once for doing this and it was believed that he had been repeating the offense. In a revolver and rifle duel which started about 8 p.m. Stewart was fatally wounded, dying shortly after midnight and Butler gave himself up to the sheriff claiming he had shot in self-defense. The state contended that being surprised in the act of putting up the fence rails, Butler shot Stewart, the latter seeking refuge behind the oak tree where his body was found. The trial started Monday and the prominence of the principals attracted widespread interest. Butler has lived in southern Oregon for over thirty years.
— For more stories like this, check out "The Archive," a weekly podcast series at mailtribune.com/podcasts