Bio: Jensen, Albert (Found Not Guilty – 2 Dec 1918)

Contact: Ann Stevens

Surnames: Jensen, O’Neill, Parmenter, Whittlested, Neinas, McMahon, Truckley, Jacobson, Lapp, Quicker, Taylor, Garbisctz, Merton, Miller, Loo, Bowen, Rush, Ellerson, Price, Fenerhelm, Crosby

----Source: Neillsville Times (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 12/5/1918

Jensen, Albert (Found Not Guilty – 2 Dec 1918)

The presiding judge granted a motion of the defendant’s attorney in the Jensen case and ordered a verdict of not guilty.

The case of the state vs. Albert Jensen, on a charge of manslaughter, was commenced in district court before Judge James O’Neill Monday afternoon.

This is a case where Jensen, a farmer living in the town of Hixon, between Withee and Thorp, is charged with having failed to care for Vernon Parmenter, a boy of 14 years old, who was found unconscious at the side of the road by a travelling man, J.H. Whittlested, with a quart bottle of whiskey in his pocket. The boy remained out all night and died from exposure, it is claimed.

The jury is composed of: Ernest Neinas, Eugene McMahon, Alvin Truckley, Jacob Jacobson, Jacob Lapp, James Quicker, David Taylor, Henry Garbisctz, Oscar Merton, Henry Milled, Alvin Loo, E. Bowen.

Lionel Parmenter, father of Vernon Parmenter, was the first witness called, following the statement of
the facts claimed by the state by District Attorney Rush. Mr. Parmenter testified that he and his wife were called to the home of Albert Jensen about 7:30 the morning of September 17 and found Vernon there, unconscious. The boy was taken, he said, to Withee, and, by the advice of a doctor there, rushed to Chippewa Falls, to a hospital there, where he died about 7:30 that evening. He said Jensen said the boy was all right—just drunk. When he picked his son up, he said the boy was stiff and he put him in a car. The boy was unconscious and did not recover consciousness before his death, he said. He identified a bottle partly filled with whiskey as having been found near the boy.

Dr. Ellerson, of Chippewa Falls, testified that he treated the boy and that he died from uremic poisoning and exposure. He said the boy was in a dying condition when he first saw him. He said it was very doubtful if the amount of liquor that had been taken from the bottle in evidence would cause death.

J.H. Whittlested, a travelling man from Marshfield, testified that he came along the highway about 7:30 the evening of September 16 and saw a boy lying in the mud by the road. The boy was unconscious, he said. He stopped and another car came along with a man in it. The two men lifted the boy to the footboard of a road grader that stood by the side of the road. “He was unconscious and we could not wake him,” the witness said. “I got in my car and went on down the road to where I saw a light and found two men there. I told them there was a boy at the road grader and asked them to care for him. I do not know whether one of then was Jensen or not. The larger of the two men said to the other, ‘Will you see after him?’ and the other one said, ‘Yes.’ I took a bottle partly filled with whiskey from the boy’s pocket and threw it over the fence. I then went on my way.”

On cross examination the witness said he could have taken the boy in his car, as he had a touring car and was alone and admitted that [unreadable] two houses as he went to [unreadable] where he found the two [unreadable]

Henry Price was the [unreadable]. He testified that he was [unreadable] night of the 16th of September [unreadable] that Albert Jensen was [unreadable] stated that Mr. Whittlested [unreadable] along and said there was [unreadable] the road grader who was in a [unreadable] and ought to be cared for. [unreadable] only a few minutes. “I asked [unreadable] where the road grader was [unreadable] said it was in front of [unreadable]. Then I asked him if he would take care of the boy and told him to call me if he needed help. He said he would do so. Jensen went home at once. A man came next morning and told me that the boy had not been taken care of. It was drizzling rain when I went to bed and was still raining next morning. I saw a bottle in the field near the grader and I picked it up and gave it to Mr. Parmenter.

“Why didn’t you go to Jensen’s that night and look after the boy yourself?”

“I had just got home from Thorp with a load of lumber and had my stock to take care of. I would have gone if he had called me,” the witness replied.

On cross examination, the witness said he did not ask Jensen about the boy the next day, but that Jensen came to his place and said he was sorry, but he did not think he was to blame, as he thought the boy was drunk and would soon sober up.

J.W. Fenerhelm testified that he drove past the Jensen place about 7:30 the morning of September 17th and saw the boy lying on his back in the mud. He told Jensen, who said that it was Vernon Permenter, “We tried to rouse him,” the witness said, “but could not do so.” Jensen then called the Permenters and they came a few minutes later. The boy had nothing over him and his face and clothing were spotted with mud.”

The state finished its testimony at noon Tuesday, a number of other witnesses testifying along the same lines. Attorney Crosby then asked the court to instruct the jury to return a verdict of not guilty, on the grounds that no legal liability had been shown on the part of Jensen.

Judge O’Neill sustained the motion, but took occasion to censure the defendant, Jensen, severely, saying that while there was no legal liability on his part shown, it would have been an act of common humanity to care for the unfortunate boy, instead of leaving him out in the rain all night. He minced no words in his condemnation of Jensen’s acts.

He also said that he thought the action of the travelling man, Whittlested, reprehensible, in leaving the boy on the road grader, when he had a two-seated car and a man to help him handle the boy. District Attorney Rush took exception to this part of the judge’s strictures, but failed to make any impression on him.



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