100 years ago in Spokane: Defense for dragging suspect claimed he couldn't hear all the cries to stop

“Deafness” constituted the principal alibi of W.J. Van Skike, on trial for manslaughter after running down a widow on the street and dragging her under his car for 13 blocks without stopping.

The victim, Mrs. Kirkpatrick, screamed continually as she was dragged and died later of her injuries. Numerous onlookers and fellow motorists also screamed at Van Skike to stop. If anything, he sped up.

In the opening statement for the defense, Van Skike’s attorney said he would show that Van Skike had suffered a skull fracture years earlier causing total deafness in his left ear, and diminished hearing in his right ear, “making it impossible for Mr. Van

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