"Introduction To Document 94- Shoot -Out At The O.K. Corral"
"Intorduction to Document # 94 -Shoot out At The O. K .Corral"
"Introduction Of The Document 94 - The Shoot Out at The O.K. Corral"
This information and research was compiled from the Tombstone Library on November 17, 2009.
Introduction to document 94 - The shoot out at the O.K. Corral:
The Spicer hearing , one of the longest and most bitterly fought legal battles in Cochise county; during the Early 1880's, it began at 3.0'clock P.M on October 31 1881. When The justice of the peace;Will Spicer met the coroner in the judges chambers. The hearing ended thirty days later, November 29,1881: With the deliverance of judge spicer's detailed decision, which exonerated the Earps brothers and Doc Holliday for their part in the O.K. Corrals shooting. During this period of time ; a large volume of evidence , much of it controversial, was taken and reduced to writing forms of depositions by Fred W. Craig the courts stenographer. These depositions; plus some legal objections, arguments, and observances, making up the bulk of document # 94, taken together , tells a consistent ,clear story of the O.K. Corral gunfight. The hearing itself was brought about ; when Issac Clanton, of the participants in the shooting swore out a compliant. charging the three Earps: Virgil, Wyatt, Morgan and Doc Holliday with the murder of William Clanton.
The Spicer court did not have the authority or jurisdiction to try such a serious charge as murder; but Judge Spicer as justice of the peace or magistrate, could rule on the evidence much in the same manner that a grand jury does: to determine whether the defendants should be bound over for a full scale murder hearing in district court. A considerable amount of the evidence collected by the Spicer's hearing was reported by, Tombstone local newspaper, The
Epitaph and Nugget, with the Nugget doing a better job. The evidence as recorded by The Epitaph was usually edited and with much important information ! deleted. Undoubtedly judge Spicer tried to keep the proceedings a secret; but the demands of the public for information caused Thomas Fitch,the chief defense counsel for the Earp brothers, to petition the court for an open hearing, following the removal of Spicer's closed door policy. Both newspapers, the Nugget and the Epitaph, assigned competent reporters to do the job and coverage of the evidence which was improved. The course of the hearing was influenced greatly by the arrival of Will R. McLaury, a brother of the two dead men on November 4th to stage his accomplishment bolstered up the prosecution 's morale, and had Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday remanded to jail without bail. there is little doubt that Will McLaury financed the prosecution's case against the Earps, and many other believed that he had also paid for the shooting that was directed later. In a letter to his father, April 13, 1884, he wrote: my experience out there (Tombstone)has been very unfortunate as to my health and badly injured me, as to money matters and none of the results is the death ofMorgan and crippling of Virgil Earp and the death of Mc Masters.
There's little doubt that Will McLaury played an important role in the Earp/Clanton feud if not that of the trigger man, at least an instigator of much of the actions taken. Following the release of the Wyatt Earp an d Doc Holliday by Wells Spicer; Ike Clanton made two more attempts to having the Earpslocked up by legal means. He swore out a murder compliant in the office of J.B.Smith, a contention city justice of the peace, and when venue was transferred to Tombstone, Clantonswore out another compliant with prob ate judge J.H.Lucas. These attempts at legal justice were doomed to failure and judge Lucas made the final release of Earp and Holliday in February 1882. Document #94 as recorded by the Federal writer of the original testimony project, working under Pat Hayhurst, is a good abstract of the original testimony. Unimportant legal introduction and endings are summarized skillfully in short paragraphs important parts of a witness testimony are recorded in all the original question-answer procedure.
Beyond question, document # 94, does a good job reporting the evidence of the hearing. There were however a number of unusual legal procedures that went on during the hearing, some of which were: Wyatt Earp was permitted to read testimony from a prepared document and was not subjected to cross examination; and Addie Bourland was questioned in her home and recalled to the stand by judge Spicer without involvement of either the prosecution or the defense. After all she had signed, her deposition was the reason behind these irregularities or their effects on the outcomeof hearings; we'll probably never be known. Although a large amount of time was used through out the hearing discussing the question of who fire the first shot; who was armed with what and who was unarmed, these questions are of no importance in the shooting that developed out of a legitimate police action and was not a quick draw sporting event, subject to a recognized set of rules, as many people in 1881; or even today. Some of the Cowboys were armed; they resisted arrest, the shooting started; and the question of who fired first , or who was armed, were of no significance.
Benny Faye Douglass