ethel’s words

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Cunning Capture of a Convict

During the campaign to stop the execution of then 16-year-old Jesse M. Garcia, Father Joseph Moreton (later Monsignor) Utah State Prison Chaplain told this anecdote at a meeting of the “Committee To Abolish Capital Punishment” that was called by Phil L. Hansen, Esq. (1923 - 1992), after a few persons met with Phil:

A convict (call him Stawell), whose life was a nightmare of punishment from the day he was born and now was sentenced to be executed for murder, had escaped from the prison. He was in Las Vegas. There was no joy there for him. He was broke; he was miserable; he was weary, he later told Father Moreton. He was tired of running, of trying to hide, of not knowing how to get his next meal. He decided to end it all, he told the prison chaplain.

So he called the Salt Lake City police and told them where he was in Las Vegas: “Come and get me; I’ll be waiting.”

Two police officers (we’ll say, Smith and Brown) went to Las Vegas. Sure enough, the murderer was there, meek and sick. They brought him back to the prison.

Officer Smith spoke to the press, told them how he had tracked down this murderer, tricked him, and with Brown’s aid, captured him.

After the procedures, re-sentenced to be executed, Stawell, as required by law, was offered the choice--to be shot or hanged. He chose to be shot. This would be at dawn, sitting in the famous old bullet-nicked office chair.

That dawn, after the blind-fold was in place, Stawell was asked, “Do you have any last wish?”

“Yes” he said. “I would like Officer Smith to sit on my lap.”

Recorded from frayed memory by

Ethel C. Hale in 2004