May 25, 1909


Fanatic Causes Attorneys Trouble by
Persistent Outbreaks -- State
rests -- Defense's Plea In-
sanity and Self-Defense.

"Self-defense and insanity will be the defense," said A. E. Martin of Martin & Bailey, counsel for James Sharp or Adam God, when court adjourned yesterday. The state finished its case in the afternoon and this morning will be begun the taking of testimony on behalf of the defendant. It is likely that the case will be given to the jury by Wednesday night, if not earlier. Sharp is being tried before Judge Ralph S. Latshaw in the criminal court for the killing of Michael Mullane, a patrolman.

Sharp was much in evidence yesterday. There were times when he boldly took charge of his own case, ignoring his attorneys and accusing them of not following his instructions.

Once, during the afternoon session, when the court refused to admit evidence of the shooting at the river front, Sharp spoke quickly to Virgil Conkling, the prosecutor, who had made the objection:


"This evidence has to do with the dirty work on the other side. They show up all the dirty work on me, and don't show up anything on the other side. Let's have a little justice in the house of God. This is my neck being tried, not yours, Mr. Conkling."

"In that case," said the prosecutor quietly, "I will withdraw my objection.

The answer of the witness, however, showed he did not have the information desired by the defense.

Earlier in the day Sharp had remarked that "things were not going as they should." In the morning he took his attorneys to task for objecting to the testimony of a witness. Sharp insisted that the man was telling the truth.

Throughout its presentation of the case the state has persistently combated the plea of insanity. It has attempted to show that Sharp at all times was possessed of a keen mind; that he dropped all claims of being God, or Adam, or David, or any other Biblical character, and that his mind was reflecting on the consequence of the riot in which five persons lost their lives.

The appearance of Sharp at this time and the acute manner in which he follows the words of every witness would seem to place him out of the insanity class, at least so far as the present is concerned. As to whether he knew right from wrong at the time of the shooting is another matter and one to be determined by the evidence of the defense.

Sharp himself expects to take the stand and when he does an exposition of his religious teachings may be expected. From remarks he has made in the courtroom and from the manner in which he has interrupted witnesses it may be surmised he intends to tell that the police provoked the riot and that he shot to protect himself. Sharp has longed for days to tell his side, in fact, from the first moment of the trial.


Today will open with the statement of A. E. Martin, his chief counsel. Then there will be witnesses and depositions from persons who knew Sharp and his band. Besides these will be Sharp himself. The state may submit some evidence in rebuttal before the case is argued and given to the jury.

It was while Goerge W. Robinson, owner of the barber shop at 952 Mullberry street, was on the stand that Sharp jumped up and said, addressing Judge Latshaw:

"Your honor, they are swearing my neck away. My lawyers let these witnesses say what they will. They don't object enough."

Then Sharp advanced to near the witness stand. A. E. Martin, one of his attorneys, objected to Sharp's interference, but the latter said sharply:

"Don't cross-examine him . He's telling the truth."

Eugene P. Barrett, a farmer near Olathe, who participated in the capture of sharp, was put on the stand after quiet had been restored. Barrett was watering his team by the roadside the morning Sharp came along. They exchanged greetings, said Barrett, and when there was noise of a horse coming down the road Sharp crawled through a fence.

"We object," said Mr. Martin. "There's no evidence here there was a horse."

"Yes, there was," said Sharp, getting up. "He's telling the truth. I heard a horse and went into a field until the horse was past."

Sharp was told to sit down and Barrett resumed his story. Said he:

"I next saw Sharp about 3:30 o'clock this afternoon, December 10. Mr. Bair and myself were in a searching party made up after word had been received from Kansas City about the riot. We made inquiry and found overshoe tracks leading to a straw stack about fifty yards from the road. This was about a mile from where I had seen Sharp go through the fence that morning. He was in a small stack of oat straw, in a hole the cattle had eaten, and there was straw in front of him. It was impossible for me to see him until I got within fifteen feet.


"Sharp got up and said: 'I've been taking a snooze.' 'That's a good place to snooze," I answered.

" 'What are you doing? Hunting for rabbits?' he asked, and I said, "Yes, I thought I might kick out a few rabbits.'

"By that time Bair had come up on motion from me and Bair told Sharp to throw up his hands. He refused at first on the plea he was paralyzed, but finally put them up. Bair and myself searched him and found a bloody knife, $105 in bills, about$6 or $8 in silver and some small change tied up in a bloody sack in an overcoat pocket. We took him to the road and there turned him over to Sheriff Steed of Johnson county. Then we went home.

Sharp whispered to his attorneys and the witness was not cross-examined.

Joseph Beaver, a farmer who lives ten miles northwest of Olathe, told of giving Sharp a night's lodging at the request of William Thiry, his brother-in-law. He said Sharp told him and Mr. Beaver's mother he was a peddler, and that his partner had left him because he had become paralyzed. He added his wife had deserted him three years ago and taken the children with her. Sharp said he had been reared in Georgia.

"That night," said Beaver, "Adam slept on the lounge. The next morning I fed him, and told him it was time to move, and he went away. He told me his name was Thomas or Thompson."

Throughout his testimony, Mr. Beaver referred to Sharp as Adam. He was asked no questions in cross-examination.

When Sheriff John S. Steed of Johnson county, Kas., took the stand, Sharp nodded at him and smiled. The sheriff returned the salutation. It was to Sheriff Steed that Bair and Barrett turned over their prisoner as soon as they had reached the public road. Steed took Sharp into his buggy and drove with him to Olathe, where he was put in jail.


"From that time until the officers took him to Kansas City, Sharp talked almost all the time, and I can remember only part of what he said," related the sheriff. "When I saw the knife that had been taken from him, I remarked that the ferrule on one end was gone.

" 'They shot that off,' said Sharp. 'It looks like it had been through a battle. I cut a policeman in the face with that knife.'

"I asked him if he knew what he had done, and told him the result of the riot. He said:

" 'My God, brother, is that so? It wasn't me that was to blame' it was the Salvation Army. They have been nagging me everywhere I went because I had a different religion from theirs. An officer came out of the police station and shook hands with me. Then came a tall, long-faced fellow, who pulled a revolver and told me to drop my pistol. I commenced shooting then. I suppose I'll be hanged for this. But I want to make a statement first. I want to write a letter to my followers and tell them how I have been misleading them. Then I am ready to die.'

"Sharp told me he deserved hanging or being put to death."

Sharp broke in and asked:

"Told you I deserved hanging? No, no."

The sheriff resumed his story:
"Sharp told me he didn't know whether he hit anybody. He said he shot to hit and meant to fight to the death. He said he had his beard cut off so he could not be recognized. Mr. Leonard, an Olathe newspaper man, talked to Sharp and asked him:


" 'What defense will you make? Will you plead insanity?'

"Sharp said: 'No, I'm not crazy. I have no defense to make. I am guilty and ready to pay the penalty.' "

Further, Sheriff Steed related what Sharp told him about the meteor that started him to preaching.

"He said a meteor had fallen on his farm, a flaming star, and that he had given up his old life and had been preaching since.

"About the guns, he told me that he had bought them and told his followers to shoot anybody that interfered with his business."

Robert M. Bair, a farmer who lives near Holliday, Kas., corroborated the details of the capture, as previously told by Barrett. The latter was at that time employed by Bair.

" 'That's awful! What have I done? I don't care now for myself, but I am sorry for the women and children I got into this,' " the witness said Sharp told him.

"I asked if his religion taught him to murder, and he said: 'It teaches me to shoot anyone that interferes with my business of preaching.' Then he cried a little. He told me he was mistaken about his belief that bullets couldn't hit him."

James Martin, 10 Delaware street, negro watchman for a boat club on the Missouri river, talked to Sharp on the river front a few days before the shooting. The defendant, said Martin, told him he was Christ and loved everybody, and talked religion to him frequently. Sharp's boat was at anchor near the club house in question for a week prior to the shooting, and its occupants were well-behaved, said the witness.

"Did you see the shooting of the little girl on the river front?" asked Mr. Martin, on cross-examination

Judge Latsaw sustained Mr. Conkling's objection to this question, and it was then Sharp spoke up loudly, saying there had been dirty work on the other side, and that it was his neck being tried.

"No, I didn't see the little girl killed," proceeded the witness and he was excused.


Soon after Sharp had been taken to Olathe by Sheriff Steed, John M. Leonard, editor of the Olathe Register, interviewed him. Leonard related verbatim the conversation he had with Sharp, at least that part of it he was able to remember.

"I asked him about his faith," said Leonard, "and he told me I could not understand it. Then I asked him why not.

" 'Ordinary people can't understand it,' said he. 'Only people of God.'

" 'How did the fight start?' "The police tried to drive me off the street.'

" 'Why?' 'The Salvation Army was jealous of my collections.'

" 'Did you see any of the Salvation Army around?' 'No, but they tried this plan on me elsewhere.'

" 'Where was your faith that enabled you to dodge the crowd and get away?' 'I think it was.'

" 'Why did you get your beard clipped?' 'I wanted to get away.'

" 'Where is your partner, Pratt? Didn't he get away?' 'No, he was lying on the walk the last I saw him. I suppose he was shot.'


"I then picked up his hat, and remarking on the bullet hole, said:

" 'They were getting close to your head.'

" 'Don't talk like that,' said he. 'If the bullet had gone through my head it would have ended a good deal of worry for me.'

" 'Do you know what they will do with you when you get back to Kansas City?'

" 'I suppose they will hang me or take my life. I deserve it.'

" 'Are you going to try the insanity dodge?'

" 'No.' "

The witness did not remember the answer given by Sharp when asked why he had given a wrong name to the farmer who had fed him, but he said he did not deny having done so.

It was at the close of Mr. Leonard's testimony that the state rested and court adjourned for the day.