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16. The Prosecution Closes

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The Prosecution Closes

Captain Thomas Branigan led off the next morning’s testimony.

He said that he knew Lee and McNew but was not well acquainted with Gililland, then described trailing Fountain’s buckboard, the

Cruces and Tularosa road, and the area around Chalk Hill. He testified to trailing the buckboard to the spot where it was abandoned, and from there to trailing horse tracks that left that spot. He talked about finding an impression on the ground where a blanket had been laid down with something heavy on it.

He went on to describe the remnants of a dry campfire that was five miles from where they had found the buckboard. There were boot tracks surrounding it. Branigan saw the tracks of a child leading away from the fire about six feet. “I do not know how it got there nor where it went, as I could not trail it any further nor back to the fire. My conclusion was that one of the men had taken the child’s shoe in his hand or on a stick and made the impressions with it. There were only four tracks and all were made by the shoe belonging to the child’s right foot. . . .”

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20. Epilogues

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Epilogues

New Mexico finally became a state in 1912. It was the forty-seventh state admitted to the Union.

William McNew spent his life as a rancher. In 1915 he shot and killed Bob Raley, James Gililland’s brother-in-law. McNew died on the thirtieth day of June, 1937.1

James Gililland started a ranch in 1902 and stayed there almost forty years. Upon selling the ranch, he and his wife spent a year traveling the eastern states. They settled in Hot Springs (now

Truth or Consequences), New Mexico, where Jim Gililland died on

August 8, 1946.2

Albert Bacon Fall went on to serve various government posts in New Mexico, but he longed to serve at the national level. As

New Mexico got closer to statehood, Fall separated himself from the Democratic Party and then switched to the Republican Party.

Although other reasons contributed, a driving force was surely the knowledge that once statehood was achieved, the senators elected from this heavily Republican state would be Republicans. The switch paid off. In 1912, Albert Fall and Thomas Catron became the first two senators elected from the state of New Mexico.

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8. Exit John Fraser

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Exit John Fraser

Now that John Fraser had completed his investigation, he was to be, as planned, taken off the case and a new operative brought in to investigate.1

So on Wednesday, March 25, 1896, Fraser left Las Cruces by train and headed for Denver, but his investigation didn’t stop. On the train, he ran into Librado C. de Baca and Elfego Baca. De Baca, the man who told Fraser about Ed Brown, Green Scott, and an unidentified man, added to his story. He told Fraser of a statement made to him by one Alexander Garcia, who said “that Ed Brown,

Green Scott and the third man whose name he did not know, but whom they called Gene, had left Brown’s ranch on Jan. 29th, and returned to Brown’s ranch three or four days afterwards, that they afterwards had told that they had only gone as far as Tularosa, that one rode a gray horse, one a sorrel and the other a buck skin

[brown with black points].”2 Back on March 6, Saturnino Barela stated of the men he saw trailing Fountain; “one rode a white horse and the others dark horses . . . .”3 De Baca continued, offering his opinion that the three men “acted in a very suspicious manner after their return, keeping close to the ranch and evidently always on the lookout for some one.”4 Fraser wrote in regards to Baca and a conversation he had with current Sheriff Numa Reymond, who also happened to be on the train, “After leaving San Marcial I learned from Numa Raymond [Reymond] that Elfego Baca had requested

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13. The Trial

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The Trial

Hillsboro was a mining town in the mountains in Sierra County with a population of only 1,000. It was a small desert town whose most impressive building was the Sierra County Courthouse, which sat on a hill. The nearest railroad was twenty miles south and the only public transportation into town were the stagecoach lines from the Nutt and Lake Valley train stations.

The Union Hotel was not nearly large enough to hold all of the people expected for the trial. As a result, tent towns were set up. The prosecution set up a camp at the north end of town with its own cook. The defense set up a camp that became known as “the Oliver Lee camp,” at the south end of town. They had a chuck wagon to supply their food. Many friends and curious spectators who had come to town for the trial camped on the mountainsides.1

There was no telephone or telegraph in the secluded town. The

Western Union Telegraph Company ran a line from Lake Valley to

Hillsboro for the trial. Reporters were there from all of the area’s newspapers as well as from many around the nation, the Associated

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17. The Defense and Rebuttal

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The Defense and Rebuttal

It was now time for the defense to present their case. Their strategy was twofold: attack the credibility of prosecution witnesses and present an alibi for the accused. To open their case, the defense called Tom Tucker to the stand in their first attempt to prove an alibi for the defendants. His testimony was not reported.1

Pedro Gonzales, a member of the initial searching party, testified to trailing the buckboard. Gonzales said there were no tracks around the campfire when they arrived. He thought the tracks measured by Llewellyn were tracks of members of the search party. Jacovo Chavez, another search party member, repeated the testimony of Gonzales, also believing that Branigan and Llewellyn measured tracks of search party members.2

The next witness called was A. N. Bailey, an employee of Lee, who stated that he was at Lee’s Dog Canyon ranch on the day of the disappearance. The defendants were there also.3 Joe Fitchett testified that he had met Oliver Lee at his Dog Canyon ranch on the day of the disappearance.

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