Mrs. Spurrier Acquitted In Murder Trial

December 5, 1929

Says She Had Been Abused All Her Married Life; Testified She Fired After Victim Attacked Her In Front Of Home; Foley Naylor, Visitor, Only Eyewitness

Mrs. Viola M. Spurrier was acquitted in Circuit Court at Westminster Tuesday night on the charge of murdering her husband, Ernest, on July 27. The Jury was out 45 minutes.

Mrs. Spurrier, who is 39 and the mother of three children, testified that her husband had abused her for years. Before she was called to the witness stand, the morning had been spent examining one hundred talesmen for jury service.  Chief Judge Francis Neal Parke and Associate Judge William Henry Forsyth, Jr., were on the bench.

The State opened its case with testimony intended to show that after a quarrel in front of their home Mrs. Spurrier, standing three or four feet from her husband, fired two shots from a pistol which she had bought and kept hidden in the house for several months, and that after the shooting she told a State policeman she should have done it long before.

Then Mrs. Spurrier related her story of thirteen years of married life, which, she said, were marked by privation, abuse and threats against her life. She told of the shooting in front of the Spurrier home, near Finksburg, on the night of July 27.

The pistol was bought and carried by her, Mrs. Spurrier said, because her husband had threatened many times in recent years to kill her. On the night of the shooting, she continued, her husband went out to get some whisky after saying “he was going to put her light out.”

After he returned, Mrs. Spurrier testified, he attacked her, ripped her dress from her shoulder and tried to take the pistol from her. Foley Naylor, a visitor at the Spurrier home, separated them, and she feel to her knees. Her husband started for her again as she knelt, she related, and then she fired.

Her testimony was followed by that of six neighbors, including Clarence Porrest, stepfather of Spurrier, who said Mrs. Spurrier was abused by her husband, who was twelve years her age, and told of threats against her life.

Naylor, the only eyewitness, told of the quarrel, but said Mrs. Spurrier was standing and her husband was crouching and advancing toward her when the shooting occurred.

Miss. Gertrude Spurrier, a niece, said Mrs. Spurrier had hidden the pistol in the house. Testimony of the State policeman who investigated the shooting, the Sheriff and the doctor who performed the autopsy concluded the State’s case.

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