Murder in Saranac Lake

Again we return to the amazing newspaper clippings in the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library. The following was a story carried in the Franklin County Gazette, Dec. 9, 1896.

It covers only the first day of the trial of a Saranac Lake man charged with second-degree murder, so obviously there are no follow-up stories to reveal if he was guilty or not. Here is what happened, according to the Gazette, the first day of the trial.

“Franklin County convened here in the courthouse Tuesday morning, Judge Samuel A. Beman presiding. There are eighteen cases on the calendar, but all are of minor importance compared with the first case moved for trial by the District Attorney, that of Gardner McLane, charged with murder in the second degree, the crime charged being the killing of his wife at the McLane cottage at Saranac Lake in August last.

“The details of the case were published in these columns at the time the tragedy occurred, and the facts brought out at the examination of McLane before Town Justice McIntyere, of Saranac Lake, who committed the prisoner for the action of the grand jury, are generally known throughout the county. He was indicted by the grand jury for murder in the second degree, the evidence of premeditation being insufficient in the opinion of the jury to warrant a first degree indictment.

“The prisoner is defended by Hon. John P. Badger, attorneys A. K. Botsford of Saranac Lake and R. M. Moore of Malone, being associated with him in the case.

“The work of securing a jury was begun immediately upon the convening of court Tuesday morning, and in the afternoon the necessary twelve men were secured as follows: Horace Orton, Bangor; Harlan P. Sperry, Bangor; Marshall Hapgood, Bellmont; Edwin Delong, Bangor; B. T. Fish, Brandon; Wallace Hill, Chateaugay; L. D. Deming, Burke; R. R. Humphrey, Chateaugay; George S. Henry, Fort Covington and John McNulty of Moria. District Attorney Paddock opened the case for the people with a summary of what the prosecution expects to prove by witnesses regarding the commission of the crime. The presentation was clear and direct and was attentively listened to by a large number of people in the court room as well as by the twelve men on the jury.

“Mrs. E. Waller, the first witness, of Saranac Lake was engaged in caring for Mrs. McLane during her illness previous to the shooting and who was present at the McLane cottage when the tragedy occurred. Her evidence covered the events on the afternoon of the shooting, including what she saw upon entering the McLane bedroom after the first shot was fired. She swore that she heard Mrs. McLane say, ‘Gard, you have shot or killed me,’ and also saw McLane with revolver in his hand. She also swore as to the conduct of the prisoner on the day and morning before the shooting and regarding the presence of whiskey in the house brought there and drank by McLane.

“Mrs. Jane Wilson, of Saranac Lake, was next sworn, and testified that when the shooting was heard she went to the McLane cottage and to the door of the room and looked in; saw Mrs. McLane lying on the floor and McLane standing looking at her; also saw the child on the bed. Both witnesses cross-examined by the defense, but did not in any way change their testimony which was strongly in favor of the prosecution.

“Bert Randels, of Argyle, Washington County, who with his mother was stopping at the McLane cottage at the time of the shooting, was the next witness, and he was followed by his mother, who corroborated his story of the events prior to the following the three shots fired in the McLane bedroom. Both swore that they heard Mrs. McLane exclaim after the first shot, ‘Gard, Gard, you have killed, or you have shot me.’ Both saw McLane on the forenoon before the shooting and declared that he was not then, in their opinion, intoxicated.

“The trial was continued until five o’clock Wednesday afternoon, when a recess was taken until Thursday morning to enable the district attorney to secure the presence of two important witnesses.”