TESTIMONY A BLOW TO MRS. MORASCH. ~ She Seems to Wither Before Expert's Words.

March 25, 1908

She Seems to Wither Before
Expert's Words.

John P. Shearman, expert in handwriting, was put on the witness stand in the Sarah Morasch poisoning case in Kansas City, Kas., yesterday. He was subjected to both direct and cross examination. His testimony was positive when it came to identifying the address that was on the candy box as being in Mrs. Morasch's handwriting, and he illustrated his conclusions by copying characteristic letters with a crayon on a chart. When court adjourned for the night the expert was still at this chart.

The principal instruments with which Shearman makes his investigations are a magnifying glass of moderate power and several photographs of the original writing. He was supplied with ten photographs marked for exhibition, by the county attorney yesterday. "Exhibit No. 1" was a print form the address on the candy box that contained the poisoned chocolate cones which killed ruth Miller. The others were photographs of proved specimens of r. Morasch's writing.

In furnishing grounds for his identification of the handwriting on the candy box, the expert took the letters "F" and "G," both of which occur several times in the letter the defendant wrote to her daughter, Mrs. May Gillin, while on her flight to Harrisonville, Mo., and which also appear on the candy box address. They appeared exactly the same when presented in copy on the blank chart by the expert. Both letters are old-fashioned and peculiarly slanted, which made the similarity more striking. A comprehensive lecture on the coincidence in style and slant of these two letters took Shearman the greater part of the day, and so he was not dismissed by the prosecution until about 4 o'clock. Daniel Maher, attorney for the defense, then began his cross examination.


Attorney Maher evidently intended to confuse the state's special witness and belittle his evidence by forcing him to directly compare the original characters in the exhibits with his copies for the purpose of illustration, only on the chart. But in this he failed signally.

The witness, profiting, perhaps, from his experience as such in over 500 United States and state courts, essayed to be witty in returning answer to the questions of the counsel. Many times his quick and well put replies brought a smile even to the austere face of the court, while a titter ran around the crowded room.

Mrs. Morasch seemed alone in not enjoying the jokes, of which she was indirectly the poor target. The settled shade of melancholy which characterized her face yesterday, as the cross-examination dragged on in its pun-producing course, deepened visibly and her shoulders drooped.

"Now, Mr. Shearman, you have drawn for us here on the chart an alleged facsimile of the letter "F" which occurs, you say, six times in the ten exhibits," said Attorney Maher. "Will you tell the jury what the small character is which follows this letter on your chart?"


"I don't know what it is. I can't remember what I thought it was in the original, for I have not previously been asked about it."

"You have not been questioned in regard to it and so you have said nothing, although you are an expert, are you not?"

"Well, you see," drawled Shearman, "I am an expert in handwriting rather than in answering unasked questions."

Again the lawyer for the defense tried to catch him and was cleverly parried away from the point, apparently much to his chagrin.

"Now will you tell the jury what relation to the cross on the letter 'F' in the original bears to the small character you have made in the same position in your alleged duplicate?" asked Maher sharply, pointing at the chart. The witness took little time in answering.

"They ought to be twin sisters," he said.

At this point the court was dismissed for the day by Judge McCabe Moore. It will reconvene at 9"30 o'clock this morning. The cross and redirect examination of the state's expert witness will probably last the greater part of the forenoon.