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Murder O Main Street ( Part Two )

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The set of articles in this story were located in The Elmira Telegram and The Star-Gazette, Elmira, N. Y.  If anyone is offended by this article due to proximity of location or relationship to those in this story, please contact me. I find the article very interesting. It not only tells the sad story of this family but also gives us a snapshot of a families life back in 1917 in the Town of Chemung.  - Mary Ellen

The stories were transcribed verbatim. Special Thanks to Mike Tuccinardi for uncovering this unusual piece of history of the town.


Elmira Star-Gazette   Wednesday January 10, 1917 

Murder in Second Degree Charge Against Bentley

Evident That District Attorney Is Convinced William Bentley Did Not Premeditate Slaying of John Albee – Victim Buried in Cayuta but Son Does Not Care to Attend.



Murder in the second degree will be the charge against William Bentley, the aged slayer of John Albee, so stated District Attorney Personius this noon.
“I am going to put all the facts before the grand jury,” continued the district attorney. “When the grand jury sits on January 22 I shall summon all the witnesses before them and after they have told their stories I shall leave the matter in the hands of the grand jurors.”
“The stories told by the witnesses conflict on a number of important points. After listening to each of the witnesses I cannot now say which story is correct.”
Coroner Hammond this afternoon said he would hold an inquest either Friday or Saturday.
Attorney Michael O’Connor representing William Bentley, today said he had no statement to issue regarding his client other than he issued yesterday when he said the public would get a different impression of the case when all the facts are known
David J. Albee did not express a desire to attend the funeral of his father, which was held this afternoon at the homestead in Cayuta. He remains in a witness cell in the county jail.
It is said that David Albee has been on two occasions in a hospital for the insane and received treatment. Those who have recently talked with the young man were impressed with the evidence that his mind is not as clear as it might be.
District Attorney Personius, his assistant Attorney Leo Waxman, Sheriff Hoke and a stenographer were present this morning about two hours while Mrs. William Bentley related her version of the affair in detail. The statement made by Mrs. Bentley was recorded by the stenographer and later will be transcribed. As soon as Mrs. Bentley left the district attorney’s office she was interviewed by Attorney Michael O’Connor representing the defendant.
It was learned today that the bruises on the right side of David J. Albee’s face were not caused by the encounter with William Bentley on the night of the slaying, but were inflicted on Saturday afternoon. It was while William Bentley and David Albee were driving home from Springs Corners, Pa., where they obtained liquor, that Bentley struck his horse a blow with his whip, the horse darted forward and David fell from the wagon, injuring his face.
Information also comes in a round- about way that William Bentley is claimed to have warned Albee to halt before the shot was fired. This is a matter which probably will be brought out at the coroner’s inquest.
William Bentley has told his version of the case for the last time, until he is called to the witness stand in his own behalf. Attorney O’Connor after talking with Bentley yesterday advised the prisoner not to discuss the case with anyone. The man has told his story to the district attorney and to his lawyer. Mr. O’Connor does not wish him to discuss it with anyone else.
The fact that District Attorney Personius will place only a charge of murder in the second degree against the prisoner shows that the authorities are satisfied that there was no premeditation before the shot was fired.
Attorney O’Connor today was unable to say whether he would be able to offer bail when Bentley is arraigned before Judge Swartwood.
Elmira Star-Gazette Thursday January 25, 1917

William Bentley Is Given Liberty 
Walks From Jail a Free Man Today
No Indictment For Killing Albee

Chemung Man Weeps When He Hears of His Release –
Says He Had No Reason to Kill His Old Friend and
Blames the Victim’s Son for What Happened –
Intends to Leave Whiskey Alone – Hopes to Save His Home
William Bentley, of Chemung, walked from the county jail shortly after 1:30 o’clock this afternoon a free man. The grand jury which considered his case reported at 10:30 o’clock this morning to Justice Kiley in Supreme court that they had found no indictment against the man who killed John Albee, of Cayuta, two weeks ago last Sunday morning. Thus did William Bentley satisfy the grand jurors that the shooting was an accident.

Shortly after the grand jury reported, Bentley was visited in his cell in the county jail. When informed that he would shortly be a free man the tears flowed from Bentley’s eyes and for a few minutes he sat weeping on the edge of the steel bunk he has occupied for nineteen nights and days. 
Recovering himself he arose and said, “I had no reason to kill John Albee. We had always been close friends and if there was any way to bring him back to life I would be only too glad even to give my own life for him. When it was said that I stood and waited for him to come down the stairs and then shot him it was a lie. It was that woman, that Mrs. John Albee, that was the cause of all the trouble. She has been to my home several times and made trouble. When I was living in Lockwood she came to my house to see her mother, who is my wife, got drunk and had trouble with a man named Miller. Some time ago she left her home in Cayuta and said she was going to Binghamton to see her daughter, who was sick, but she came to my house at Chemung, went over to the hotel and got drunk and the hotel keeper brought her to my house along in the night.”
“She wants to get my home from me in Chemung which was deeded to me by Aunt Martha Rorick. That’s what the trouble was about that night. She has fixed it up with the Crispins to get hold of the place and sell it to them, for Crispin wants to buy it. I took Aunt Martha to keep for the place and she deeded it to me if I would keep her. She has been sick since I took her and I have had to pay doctor bills and in lifting her I got a bad hernia so that I now am not able to lift hardly anything. The night of the trouble she wanted me to let her take Aunt Martha and keep her and have the home where I live. She did not want to pay me anything for keeping Aunt Martha for two years and I have gone on and improved the place, hauled stone to lay a foundation and improve the house and I have set out fruit trees and done a lot of work about that place. She is the one who is responsible for all this trouble and she goes free.”
“Since I have been here in jail I have had other trouble. I had a fine horse that I was offered, $65 for just before I was brought here. The other night the man who was taking care of it for me tied it too long and it cast itself and lay there all night in the stall and a part of the next day. When the horse was found down it was so bruised and injured that it was sold for $10. Now they are trying to take my home from me, but I guess they can’t do that.”
“I don’t blame that David Albee for anything. He is not just right. On that night when I went to the top of the stairs before the shooting he jumped from bed and I guess he would have punched out one of my eyes, if his father, John, had not got out of bed and stopped him. John pulled David off me. They said I was not upstairs, but they found my hat up there after it was all over. The district attorney found it and that proved that I was upstairs. Some of the others said I was not up there. If John Albee had come down stairs first there would have been no shooting, for he would have kept David off me, but David grabbed me and pulled my coat over my head. That’s the reason I did not see John or know the shot had struck him when the gun went off.  John would have stopped that fight if he had been down stairs before David. Let me tell you, David is responsible for his own condition now, so I don’t blame him.”
“What about leaving whiskey alone, now that you are out of this trouble?” was asked Bentley.
“I said that if I get out of this trouble whiskey will never bother me again. This has been enough.”
Attorney Michael O’Connor, representing Bentley, was pleased when the grand jury reported no indictment against his client. “I was satisfied that when all the facts were told Mr. Bentley would be freed,” said Mr. O’Connor. “From the very first I was convinced that the unfortunate shooting was accidental.”
Mr. Bentley this afternoon started for his home in Chemung to join his wife.  He intends to pay for keeping Mrs. Rorick during the time he has been in jail. Bentley will live at his Chemung home for a time at least.
At no time has any formal charge been placed against Bentley who is now in his sixty-third year. Brought to this city from Chemung by Sheriff Hoke within a few hours after the shooting he has been held in the county jail on an open charge.

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