Murder of Pauline Duebbert 1929 Part II

Part I, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, April 16, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News


This afternoon at 3 o’clock Norman Tanner, accused on a severance with David A. Miller of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, announced that he was ready to turn state’s evidence He plead guilty to the charge of murder and threw himself upon the mercy of the court. His sentence was held in suspense until after the case of David a. Miller is decided.
Attorneys Haenssler and Tuttle objected to the fact that without consulting them, the prosecuting attorney had sprung the surprise in open court. Mr. Haenssler asked that they be discharged as the attorneys for Norman E. Tanner before Tanner’s confession proceeded. This request was granted.
Before accepting the plea Judge Woolfolk asked Tanner if he had been made any promises as to what kind of a sentence he would get to which Tanner answered “Yes.” The judge then asked “Did anybody claim I had given any such assurances?” to which Tanner replied “No.” The judge then made it plain that the sentence would be either death or life imprisonment wholly within the power of the discretion of the court and asked Tanner if with that understanding he wished to withdraw this plea. Tanner replied “I plead guilty.”
The trial of David A. Miller, accused of the murder of Pauline Duebbert, was in full swing at the court house today, the jury having been selected as follows: W. H. Hamilton, Fred T. Robbins, L. W. Schemmer, William Bergfeld, Oscar Linnemann, Ed. J. Leimkuehler, Charles Hallemeier, William Fink, Ernst Schulte, Clifford Goodfellow, Ed Burns and Henry Hinnah.
The morning was occupied by the statement of W. F Bloebaum to the jury of which he expected to prove. One variation from his former statement was the assertion that he would show how Miller wrote a note to Tanner, advising Tanner what kind of a story to tell the officers if he should be caught. Mr. Bloebaum said the note had been intercepted. Another assertion was that Miller made arrangements with some party to swear that Miller and Tanner were at a point a far distance from St. Charles County on the night of the murder.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
April 17, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News

Miller Turns Pale When Verdict is Read and Rests Head on Table
Cries Like a Child When He is Returned to Jail

From Monday’s Daily:
After a four hour session last Saturday, the jury, through its foreman, Ernest Schulte, brought in a verdict that David A. Miller was guilty of the murder of Pauline Duebbert I the first degree, and that the death penalty by hanging should be inflicted. Immediately after the verdict had been read, the judge announced the penalty of Miller’s co-partner in the crime, Norman e. Tanner, declaring that he shall serve a life sentence in the penitentiary.
When the verdict of the jury was announced, outside of turning slightly pale, Miller gave little evidence of emotion. He stared rather blankly a moment or two and then leaned his head on the table by which he was sitting. After being taken back to the jail, however, he gave way under the strain by bursting into tears and crying like a child.
St. Charles is going to be treated to a hanging, no doubt, but before that event takes place, a year or perhaps a year and a half may go by. Undoubtedly the case will be taken to the supreme court, which is about two years behind on the docket. Cases of this kind are generally shoved ahead and a fair estimation of the period which the supreme court will take before the decision is handed down is as has just been stated.
The next step, of course, will be a motion for a new trial. This must be made immediately unless the judge is petitioned to grant further time. In event Attorneys Haenssler and Tuttle, representing Miller, desire time to analyze the situation and formulate reasons as to why a new trial should be granted, they may apply to the judge and at his discretion he has the power to extend the time about ten days. Whether this is done or not, he will name the date on which the hearing will be had for the new trial. After the hearing, providing the new trial is not granted, the judge will pronounce sentence upon Miller. At that, it is assumed that his attorneys will appeal the case to the supreme court. The expenses of an appeal will be considerable, but as Miller is a poor person in the eyes of the law, the state will put up the money for him.
The case has been admirably handled by the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff from the start. In the face of banters from the St. Louis papers and facing a situation that looked absolutely blank, they succeeded in running down the criminals and bringing them to justice. The world is again shown that it is a dangerous thing for lawless people to choose St. Charles County as the location for their activities.
On the other hand, the case was so well developed that Miller’s attorneys had almost an insuperable task to make any showing at all. They faced written confessions and finally the vestige of any chance left was knocked from under them by the fact that one of the accused men turned state’s evidence.

From Friday’s Daily:
The defense of David Miller will round itself about the assertion that he was mistreated by the St. Charles county officials and forced to make a confession to their liking. This became evident when the jury was sent from the room and Miller was put on the stand that the judge might decide whether or not to admit certain evidence. Miller, figuratively speaking, “went to pieces.” He asserted that he was tortured in every way they could think of, that he was put into solitary confinement for three days without sleep or food until he would make a confession. He said that they threatened to turn him over to a mob and that they punched him in the ribs with a revolver.
When asked other questions pertaining to other matters, Miller seemed unable to get away from his original subject, but kept declaring that he had been abused and tortured by the officers. He denied all the accusations against him. His general appearance was that of a crazy man, not of a man who was in control of his natural reason and sense.
Chester Hurt, his former employer, and the one who was really responsible for the clew that led to his capture, when put on the stand corroborated to some extent the testimony of Miller. Hurt told of a session with Miller just after his capture, in which the prosecuting attorney and the sheriff stayed with the prisoner, questioning him, from eleven o’clock at night tile eleven o’clock the next morning. Hurt said that he was with them only fifteen minutes as he could not stand for the things that were going on. He asserted he did not remember exactly what was said, but that he did remember that the words “mob” and “lynching” were used, and that a gun was poked in Miller’s face.
Mr. Bloebaum explained that the gun was used not to threaten Miller, but merely to present, the situation to him forcibly as to what the victim of the murder might have felt.
Still a third witness, a friend of Hurt, who was present with the latter, testified and more or less substantiated Miller.
In yesterday’s testimony August Meyer surprised the lawyers for the defense by positively identifying Miller and Tanner as the men who visited the farm on the night of the killing. At the last trial and on all previous occasions Meyer had declared that he had no memory of the faces of the men, seeming only to recall that in the dusk of the evening and general excitement he had failed to scrutinize them or had not the chance to see them clearly. The prosecuting attorney explained that at the other trial Meyer was a sick man that the wounds of the bullets in his head had interfered with his memory, but that now the tissues had healed so that his recollection has become plain again.
The case had barely started this morning, les Plackemeyer was on the stand when the question of whether the confession and al that related to it could be presented to the jury came up. The jury was sent from the room. Mr. Plackemeyer went on with his testimony, after which a number of other witnesses were summoned.
The judge ruled that all evidence was permissible and the jury was therefore permitted to hear it.
The trial will probably be continued this evening.

From Saturday’s daily:
The outstanding feature of the David Miller trial this morning was an attempt on the part of the attorneys for Miller to throw the case out of court. The action was based on the discovery that Henry Hinnah, one of the jurymen, is the husband of the daughter of William Duebbert, who is a second cousin of Pauline Duebbert. The judge ruled that this face would not disqualify Mr. Hinnah and ordered the trial to proceed.
It is understood that the trial will be completed today, even tho an after supper session till midnight is necessary. The jury have had two nights of good rest. Breaking away from the former custom of putting them on cots in the courthouse, the plan this time was to take them to the new St. Charles Hotel, where they obtained the best accommodations they could desire.
Miller Wrote Note
The surprise of Norman E. Tanner turning state’s evidence aside, it seems as tho the trial has gone along in the expected manner. Chester Hurt identified the handwriting of Miller on a piece of newspaper. The note was alleged to have been written by Miller at the time he was captured; and went something like this: “Norman, Justice of Peace turned me in at Buffalo. Give girl candy. Don’t tell anything until the trial. (Signed) D–.”
Another one of the state exhibits was a letter from Miller to Les McGowan postmarked West Virginia. It read something like: “I will never live with Sarah any more. I am going to South America.” Sarah is supposed to have been Miller’s wife.
Hurt said that when he visited Miller at the jail before the January trial, Miller said, “I hate that I robbed you more than I do the killing.”
Hurt Asked For Ring
When Billie McDonald, the woman whom Miller was courting at Boonville went on the stand, she testified that Miller did not tell of his wife and children. She said also that Hurt had called on her before the January trial and asked for a ring which Miller had given her. Hurt explained that Miller owed him cash and he thought it would be right for the ring to become his property.
Miss Hortense Brown of the Dave Hoffmann Jewelry and Pawn Shop of East St. Louis, went on the stand and produced records of the sales of guns, recognizing Miller as the purchasers.
It will be recalled that Miller and Tanner are alleged to have bought the guns in East St. Louis, after which they drove to the Pauline Duebbert farm, where they secreted themselves until the following night. About dusk they are alleged to have advanced from the woods. Tanner undertaking to cover Pauline Duebbert with his gun, and Miller going to the milkshed where he found August Meier. Miller compelled Meier to walk in the direction of the farm and near the gate he met Tanner and Pauline Duebbert. Miss Duebbert began to speak in German to Mr. Meier, a scuffle occurred, the outcome of which was that Miss Duebbert was shot and killed and that Meier was left for dead on the premises. This is the gist of the confession which Judge Woolfolk yesterday decided to permit to go before the jury.
Tanner’s Testimony
When Tanner was put on the stand, he told his story with the utmost candor, outlining the trip to St. Louis and East St. Louis, where they bought supplies, and going into detail concerning the actual murder. Concerning the murder, he said that he went to Pauline Deubbert, and that Miller took charge of August Meier. He says she struck at him with a knife and that he hit her over the head with a gun. She then ran up towards Miller and Meier shouting and screaming, with the knife still in her hand. When they were close together, Meier started back and he (Tanner) followed him. At that moment Tanner heard a shot and, looking back, saw Miss Duebbert falling. Meier lowered his hands and Tanner shot him in the head, at which the victim fell to his knees, and Tanner put another bullet into his head. He said he rolled the body over and saw that he (Meier) was still alive and groaning. Miller called out, “Shoot him again so that he can tell no tales.” Tanner said he obeyed the advice. About that time they thought they heard a shout on a hill nearby. The witness said that Miller wanted to search the house for the money they came down there to but, but that he (Tanner) said “Let’s get out of here,” and they hurried towards the blind lane where their car was parked.

Dateline: St. Charles, Missouri
Thursday, May 15, 1930
St. Charles Weekly Banner-News


Judge Woolfolk Overrules Motion For New Trial
But it is Understood that Lawyers Will Appeal Case to the Supreme Court Tomorrow

From Monday’s Daily:
This afternoon Judge Woolfolk denied David A. Miller a new trial and sentenced him to be hanged until dead on Tuesday, June 17. It is likely that his attorneys, Osmund Haenssler and Claud Tuttle, will file a motion tomorrow to appeal the case to the supreme court.
When the sentence was pronounced Miller took in everything that was said with respect and calmness. During the preliminary remarks of the judge his face showed interest, but no emotion was perceptible except by the fidgeting of one of his feet.
The argument relating to the new trial centered principally on the alleged act that Henry Hinnah, one of the jurymen who convicted miller, was within the fourth degree of consanguinity. Were the fact established that this consanguinity or blood relationship was near enough, a new trial would be compulsory. The critical line is the fourth degree, about which there seems to be great difference in opinion, the prosecuting attorney holding that Hinnah’s relationship was in the seventh degree, while Miller’s attorneys claim it is well within the fourth degree.
Pauline Duebbert, it is fairly well established, was a granddaughter of Fritz Duebbert and Mrs. Henry Hinnah was a great-granddaughter. When being questioned as witness at the Miller trial, Henry Hinnah admitted that he did not say that his wife was a Duebbert, but alleged that he was not asked that question. On the stand today he said he did not know he was any relation to Pauline, but since the trial he felt that he was distantly related.
John Duebbert of St. Charles was another witness. He said that his father, also named John, was a brother of Fritz. Pauline Duebbert was the daughter of Christopher, a son of Fritz.
Judge Woolfolk declared that he had not the slightest idea that the relationship of Miss Duebbert to Henry Hinnah was within the fourth degree. He would not sustain the motion if the thought there existed such a possibility. On that ground he overruled the motion for a new trial.
If the case is appealed to the supreme court, the hanging will probably be delayed for a year, or in event the decision is in Miller’s favor, then a new trial will be compulsory.

Continue Reading Part III
Go back to Part I


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