The case made national headlines. Newspapers pictured a territory unsafe for white women with subhuman native brutes on the prowl. The local dailies editorialized on the efficiency of lynch law. In the trial, jurors deadlocked because Mrs. Massie’s clothing was intact, and who beat her was in question. One of the men involved was subsequently seized and severely beaten. A second, Joseph Kahahawai, was forced into a car, shot, and killed. Police caught Kahahawai’s assailants—Mrs. Massie’s mother, husband, and two sailors.
Clarence Darrow, the famous criminal lawyer, defended the murderers, but the jury found them guilty, and they were sentenced to terms of hard labor of four to ten years. Gov. Lawrence Judd, however, commuted the sentences to one hour each in his chambers. A shocked public reconsidered the case. Few could abide lynch law. A new police chief was hired and the criminal justice system reorganized. The Massie case to this day has the power to arouse strong emotions.
By Helen G. Chapin
You need to be a member of Maoliworld to add comments!