×

Andrews found guilty at trial and sentenced to death in Amann murder case

Times Observer file photo A century might feel like a long time but the current county courthouse, built in the 1870s, would have housed the trial of John M. Andrews in the summer of 1911.

With the jury on board, the trial of John M. Andrews, the man accused of killing Emile Amann at the city’s water reservoir, began.

Both papers devoted a wealth of column inches to the case generally but especially the trial.

You can thank me later for summarizing that here.

The Mail rattled through the testimony offered, identifying each individual witness.

“The Amann murder trial is full of sensations,” they wrote. “It was replete with evidence by the Commonwealth that John M. Andrews was in the company of Amann not long before the murder is supposed to have occurred, was seen in the buggy with Amann driving toward the reservoir and was later seen coming down the bank from the direction of the reservoir, brushed off his clothes, appeared to be greatly excited and then ran down the street disappearing on the premises of C.W. Stone.”

Photo from the Warren Evening Mirror This man, John Andrews, was charged with murder in the Jan. 1911 killing of Emile Amann. This, however, does not represent the conclusion of an open and shut case.

The Stone mansion is at the corner of Liberty St. and Fifth Ave.

Testimony was offered by the person who found Amann’s body, the city engineer, a photographer who took crime scene photos, the coroner, Amann’s wife, essentially a ballistics expert, a stenographer from his preliminary hearing, the owner of the livery where Amann got the horses to drive to the reservoir and many others, including two who claimed that Amann and Andrews were in the buggy together.

The trial started on a Friday and went into Saturday before taking Sunday off.

A retired stonemason testified to hearing two pistol shots 10 minutes apart, and claimed to have seen Andrews immediately following the shots.

“He was nervous and excited,” the man testified, “examined his clothing and exclaimed ‘My God?” or “Oh, God!” then ran down Liberty St.”

The Mail also commented on the testimony offered by the victim’s wife – “she was in deep mourning and wore a look on the stand which clearly indicated that the duty ahead of her testifying in such a case was most distasteful to her.”

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I wouldn’t be writing about a century-old murder case if it was an open and shut affair.

The first hint that might not be the case came from the man who saw Andrews coming down the hill. He testified he had been offered money not to testify in the case.

It’s at trial when the million-dollar question of motive starts to get some attention.

One of the prosecutors – Thomas C. Cochran – made a statement to the jury in that direction: “We desire to show you that Mr. Andrews was (called) to Pittsburgh on Jan. 13, 1911, that he was to produce Emile Amann at the company’s office within two weeks from that date. How could you imagine a more impelling motive than that? We desire to show a shortage of pipe, the shortage of funds and what they were misappropriated for by the defendant.

“That is the reason why Emile Amann is not living today.”

As part of the trial, the jury was taken to the scene of the crime.

“Judge Hinckley told the jury to talk to no one and to let no one talk to them while on the trip to the hillside and they departed in charges of two court officials, to view the place where Amann met his death,” the Mirror reported.

Residents awoke to the following headline on June 22: ANDREWS GUILTY AS CHARGED IS VERDICT OF JURY.

The jury had made its determination in less than two hours of deliberations.

“As the jury filed into the room, those present in the courtroom settled into their seats and a husk of breathless anticipation fell upon the assembly,” the Evening Mirror reported.

“The prisoner who had been brought into the courtroom when the jury had signified the fact that a verdict had been reached was pale and outwardly calm, although the inward emotion was made apparent by the drumming of his (fingers) upon the table of his counsel, the set jaws and eager eyes.”

Andrews reportedly “stood upright, chin high in the air as is his usual custom and gazed steadfastly at the judge” while the verdict was read.

Three months later he was sentenced.

The mail reported that he was “sentenced to be hanged by the neck until he is dead.

“He was exceptionally cool and calmly crossed his legs and folded his arms, then sprang quickly to his feet when so commanded by the court. Twice during the imposition of sentence a faint smile was seen to flash across the prisoner’s face. Not a nerve seemed to quiver.”

The mail quoted the exchange between Hinckley and the convicted.

Hinckley: “John M. Andrews, you have been convicted of murder in the first degree. Have you anything to say why the sentence of death should not be pronounced on you?”

Andrews: “I think not, your honor, under the circumstances. I feel that it will all come out right in the end.”

Hinckley then pronounced sentence. The report reads like the hanging would occur at the county jail with the governor to set the time “and may God have mercy on your soul,” the judge added.

Andrews’ attorney, Delford Arird, announced that the decision would be appealed and efforts undertaken to secure a new trial.

Mrs. Andrews told the Mail she was confident that request would be granted.

“The suspense is worse than the knowledge,” she said. “I am anxious to know better the outcome, whether it be for better or for worse.”

“I feel it will all come out right in the end” is quite a statement from someone just told he was going to hang on courthouse grounds.

But, boy, did he have reason to think that might be the case.

Newsletter

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *
   

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today