You Be the Judge The Hall-Mills Court Case Part 2

About the Hall-Mills case of murder, history of the trial. Read the facts and decide for yourself.


The Hall-Mills Case (1926)

The Prosecution's Points: The trial opened on Nov. 3 in the Somerset County Courthouse in rural Somerville and lasted for a month, fueling the tabloid headlines every day. Justice Charles W. Parker, of the state supreme court, presided. He was assisted by a local justice named Frank A. Cleary.

The special prosecutor was Alexander Simpson, an ambitious state senator who made up in melodramatics what he lacked in solid evidence. Early in the trial he established the torrid relationship between the clergyman and the choir singer by calling to the stand the dead woman's 20-year-old daughter, Charlotte, a flapper who reveled in the limelight. She identified the love letters of Reverend Hall and Mrs. Mills, which Mrs. Mills had stored in a crocheted bag in her living room. The bag also held a diary kept by the minister.

Prosecutor Simpson presented one of Reverend Hall's calling cards, found at the scene of the murder, and experts identified the fingerprints on it as those of Willie Stevens. But the prints were later proved to have been fraudulently superimposed.

Then came the most sensational moment of the trial. Simpson called Mrs. Jane Gibson, who claimed to be an eyewitness to the murders. Because she owned a pig farm near the lovers' lane, she had been dubbed "the Pig Woman" in the press. On the first day of the trial she had collapsed of what was diagnosed as a severe stomach ailment and had had to be hospitalized. When she testified on Nov. 18, she was carried into court on a stretcher.

On the night of the murders, she said, while she was looking for a thief who'd been stealing her corn, she heard several people having an argument. First one woman demanded, "Explain these letters." Then there were the sounds of a scuffle. Finally a shot and the voices of two women.

"One said: `Oh, Henry,' easy, very easy; and the other began to scream, scream, scream so loud, `Oh my, oh my, oh my,' So terrible loud ... that woman was screaming, screaming, and I just about got my foot in the stirrup [of the saddle on her mule] when bang! bang! bang!--three quick shots."

From her stretcher she identified Mrs. Hall, the Stevens brothers, and Henry Carpender as the people she had seen.

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