Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Archibald Gillan Kills Phineas B. Snyder, 1880.

Taken from the history of Polk County, Dakota.

Archibald Gillan, in June, 1880, charged with the murder of Phineas B. Snyder at East Grand Forks, by striking him upon the head with a beer faucet. Judge Davis Brower, one of our early legal lights, assisted the county attorney in the prosecution, while Judge Reynolds and W. W. Erwin, of St. Paul, were attorneys for the defendant. The "tall pine," as "Bill" Erwin was called, was the most brilliant criminal lawyer the Northwest has ever had, and he well maintained his great reputation on this occasion, thrilling the large attendance with his impassioned eloquence. That Gillan killed Snyder was admitted. The grounds of defense were self-defense and insanity. The jury acquitted the defendant on the ground of temporary insanity. The verdict was not generally well received. It was quite plain Gillan did not intend to kill, but the opinion was he should have been convicted of manslaughter.

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