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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 26, 1999


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Editorial Assistant

JAMA. 1999;281(20):1874D. doi:10.1001/jama.281.20.1874D-JJY90014-2-1

A trial has just been concluded in Pittsburgh, in which a woman was accused of murdering her mother. The fact of the matricide was admitted, but the defense of insanity was made, combined with a plea of justification on account of belief in spiritualism. The whole family were spiritualists, and this daughter, the defendant, claimed that she had a message from her father, who is in spiritland, to the effect that he was lonely and disconsolate. To relieve this sad condition of the father, the daughter conceived the brilliant idea of sending the mother to him, which idea she carried out. And the jury brought in a verdict of not guilty. The ground of defense was insanity, but the lawyers skilfully let the case go to the jury with a plea on account of spiritualism as well as insanity. It is not known on which phase of the defense the jury rendered its verdict, but if on account of spiritualism, it certainly gives the spiritualists the "inside track" in the murder business. In any event it places these people in a very definite position before the law in Pittsburgh—if they are spiritualists and believe what the spirits tell them, they are insane.