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Gurley Herald
Gurley Herald
Contributed by klstacy_home

Description: Durant is Dead - Long Fight for Life in Vain

Date: January 13 1898

Newspaper published in: Gurley, AL

Source: Madison Co. Library, Huntsville, AL

Page/Column: Page 1, Column 4

DURANT IS DEAD
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The Long Fight for Life Proves to Have Been in Vain.
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Died Protesting His Innocence and Accepted the Ministrations
of the Catholic Church Although Reared a Baptist.
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SAN QUENTIN, Cal., Jan 8.When William Henry Theodore Durrant died on the gallows Friday morning for the murder of Blanche Lamont, he gave an exhibition of coolness and nerve as has seldom been seen under similar circumstances. Hopeful almost to the last that something or someone would intervene to save him, he walked to the scaffold this morning and made his little speech protesting his innocence as calmly and with us distinct enunciation as if he had been addressing an assemblage of friends upon some ordinary topic of the day. His face was pale, and his eyes were red, but his voice was firm and he stood as solid as a rock while he proclaimed his innocence and professed forgiveness to those who, he said, had hounded him to death.
There was not a hitch or accident to mar the plans of Warden Hale in carrying out the sentence of the law. The noose was adjusted, the trap was sprung, the stout rope hold and Durrant's dead body dangled at the end. The neck was broken by the fall of over five feet, and 15 minut4es later the murderer's body was cut down and placed in the coffin.
Warden Hale had provided a neat suit of dark material for the occasion and those clothes Durrant quickly donned. He noticed the absence of collar and necktie, however, and knowing full well the reason for this omission, he asked for them, explaining that a turndown collar would not interfere with the noose. Then he sat down to an excellent breakfast and ate heartily.
Consistent to the last, Durrant died professing religion. But he died, accepting at the last moment the comforts of the Catholic Church, instead of the Baptist church, in which he was reared. Rev. Rader, a Protestant [sic] The once ardent Baptist turned to the Catholic church for consolation, and called upon Father Lagan, the priest who had frequently visited him in prison, to attend him. Father Lagan responded promptly and performed the last solemn rites of the church.
Durrant remained in close consultation with the priest and seemed to be deeply interested in the impressive ceremony.
As the hour of the execution approached the prisoner became somewhat restless. His father and mother were admitted to bid him a last farewell. The elder Durrant clasped his son by the hand and the young man turned to comfort his mother, who cried hysterically. Durrant embraced her tenderly, and saying: The hour has come for us to part," and put her gently away.
The grief-stricken mother was led to a private room where she remained until after the execution. The father, however, went to the execution room and, supported by two friends, saw his son meet his death.
Warden Hale did not attempt to hurry mutters, but allowed all possible time for the Supreme Court at Washington to take some action. Finally, when word was flashed across the continent that the Supreme Court had declined to interfere, the warden ordered the programme of the day carried out.
Instantly on arriving at the gallows, his legs and arms were pinioned and the rope was placed upon his neck. The hangman was about to adjust the black cap when Durrant announced his desire to speak. Permission was given and the doomed murderer spoke as follows:
"I desire to say that although I am an innocent man, innocent of every crime that has been charged against me, I bear no animosity toward those who have persecuted me, not even the press of San Francisco, which hounded me to the grave. If any man thinks I am going to spring a sensation--I am not, except it is the sensation that I am an innocent man brought to the grave by my persecutors. But I forgive them all.
They will get their justice from the great God who is master of us all, and there I also expect to get the justice that is the justice of an innocent man. Whether or not the perpetrators of the crime of which I am charged are discovered, it will make no difference to me now, but I say this day will be a shame to the great state of California. I forgive everybody who has persecuted me, an innocent man whose hands have never been stained with blood, and I go to meet my God with forgiveness for all men."
Durrant finished quietly and had scarcely ceased when the black cap was placed over his face. At the same instant Hangman Lunt raised his hand, the trap was sprung and, with a rattle, Durrants body shot through the opening. There was a sound as of a stout rope drawn taut and a broken-necked man swayed to and fro for a moment when the body became motionless. The crowd surged forward, but the wardens voice was heard to exclaim: Stand back. The doctors, however, were permitted to go forward where they felt the pulse and finally decided that Durrant was dead.
In just 11 minutes and 28 seconds all signs of life had vanished. The body was allowed to hang for 15 minutes when it was cut down and placed in a black coffin provided by an undertaker from San Francisco. It is not known yet what disposition of the body will be made by Durrants parents.

Submitted: 02/10/16

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