1929: Constantine Beaver, Alaskan native

Add comment September 7th, 2012 Headsman

On this date in 1929, Alaskan native Constantine Beaver hanged in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Described as a “woodsman”, Beaver shot his friend Egnatty Necketta during a drunken altercation the previous December.

Neither Beaver himself nor the several witnesses spoke or understood English, so much of the trial was conducted via interpreters. The jury, in finding him guilty, availed an option to remain silent as to the penalty, punting the decision to the judge — who went with hanging. Several jurors then protested, too late, that they hadn’t understood that was a possible outcome of their silent penalty decision.

In pre-statehood Alaska under federal governance, it was U.S. President Herbert Hoover 4,000 miles away in Washington who would have the final say in this affair — riding high, as it happened, at the very moment of the stock market peak right before the economic meltdown that would define his presidency.

Hoover said no.

Hopeful throughout the greater part of the night that a stay of execution would arrive Beaver bore himself with fortitude when informed that he must die. His only wish was that the intervening time might speed by so that his mental agony might be ended.

When Beaver reached the death chamber he broke into a tribal chant which continued until the floor opened beneath him.

It was “the saddest affair I’ve had to witness,” said a U.S. deputy who was present at the execution. And it was the last hanging ever conducted in Fairbanks.

Of possible interest: American Indian Executions in Historical Context” by David V. Baker, a lengthy pdf.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Alaska,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,Hanged,Murder,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,U.S. Federal,USA

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1929: José de León Toral, assassin of Álvaro Obregón

Add comment February 9th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1929, a Catholic militant who had gunned down the president of Mexico was shot for his trouble.

In the midst of the dirty Cristero War pitting Catholics against a secular, development-minded state, adroit former president Alvaro Obregon had just won election to a new term.

On July 17, 1928, as the president-elect banqueted in Mexico City, starving artist and father of three Jose de Leon Toral (English Wikipedia entry | Spanish) gained admittance as an itinerant caricaturist … then shot dead his putative subject square in the face.

En route to his inevitable Calvary, which he met like Father Miguel Pro with the insurgents’ cry of “Viva Cristo Rey!”, Toral had occasion to stand in a sensational trial where he described to a live radio audience his tortures at the hands of the police. (There’s an illustration at this Spanish-language biography.)

And of course, he’s got his own corrido.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Artists,Assassins,Capital Punishment,Cycle of Violence,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Mexico,Murder,Notable for their Victims,Public Executions,Shot,Wartime Executions

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