Salt Lake Tribune

29 January 1914

Page 12







Man Charged With Murder of

   J. G. Morrison and Son Is

      Held to District Court.






Accused, Acting as Attorney

for Himself, Cross-examines

         Witness of State.



            Joe Hillstrom, charged with the murder of J. G. Morrison, the grocer slain in his store on South West Temple street the night of January 10, was bound over to the district court without bail by Harry S. Harper, justice of the peace, late yesterday afternoon.

            Circumstantial evidence tending to show that Hillstrom was one of the two men who entered the little store and without warning shot and killed the grocer and his son, aged 17 years, was introduced by the state.

            Hillstrom acted as his own attorney.  He appeared without counsel and to repeated inquiries by the court as to whether he desired counsel, he replied that he had no lawyer and wanted none. 

            Merlin Morrison, the younger boy who was in the store when his father and brother were murdered, was the chief witness for the state.  He described the shooting in detail and said that one of the two men resembled Hillstrom in general build and height.  He said he heard the first shot fired and turned in time to see the second shot, under which his father crumpled and fell over a sack of potatoes. 


Crouched in Doorway.

            The boy crouched down in the doorway leading to the back room and watched the deadly fire.  He told how his brother ran to the back of the store and got his father’s big army gun and began firing, and how the assassins turned their weapons on the lad and silenced him with a volley that killed.  Seven shots in all were fired, he testified, adding that the men, one pursuing a wound in his chest, ran from the store less than a minute after they entered with weapons drawn.

            The Morrison boy was positive that the man, who he thought resembled Hillstrom, carried a large black automatic revolver.  The defendant, according to the officers, has admitted having owned a black automatic revolver but declared he threw it away on his way to Murray. 

            Hillstrom cross-examined the boy and tried to make the witness admit that after looking at the defendant in the county jail he had told the officers Hillstrom was not one of the assassins.  Young Morrison insisted he had said no such thing. 


Doctor Testifies.

            Dr. Frank McHugh of Murray, whose information to the officers led to the arrest of Hillstrom, proved an important witness.  The doctor said that he had just retired about 11:30 o’clock the night of the murder when his door bell rang and Hillstrom came in seeking medical assistance.  He bared his chest and revealed an ugly wound in his left breast, ranging up and back.  The doctor said he dressed the wound and that just as he finished the work Dr. Arthur Bird stopped in the office.  Bird offered to give Hillstrom a lift in his car and Hillstrom accepted, being driven from the home of Dr. McHugh to the home of Esilus, where he was arrested the following day. 

            Dr. Bird told the same story.  Neither of the physicians would hazard an opinion as to the caliber of the bullet that wounded Hillstrom, buy both said it was from a large caliber gun.  Dr. Bird said that while Hillstrom was putting on his clothes after having his wound dressed he noticed a black automatic revolver in Hillstrom’s pocket.

            When he was arrested Hillstrom had no gun.  Detective Bert Seager testified that Hillstrom told him at the county jail that he had thrown the gun out of the automobile while riding with Dr. Bird. 


Met Two Men. 

            Frank E. Seeley and Mrs. Seeley testified that just prior to the murder they met two men near the Morrison store and that the men crowded them into the mud on the crossing.  One of these men was of the same build as Hillstrom and both had red handkerchiefs around their necks, Seeley said.

            John E. Thompson, a boy living on South West Temple street, said that he looked out of a street car window at the corner of Eighth South and West Temple street at 9:30 o’clock and saw two men running south.  Each had a red handkerchief around his neck, the boy said. 

            Mrs. Vera Hansen told of seeing a man run out of the grocery store at 9:30.  This man, she said, was slightly doubled up and was holding his chest with his hands.  The man called out to someone whom she did not see.

            “Would you recognize that voice it you heard it again?” the witness was asked.

            “I think I would.  I heard a voice that sounded very much like it the next day, “ she said.

            “Where was that?”

            “At the county jail.”

            “Whose voice did you hear at the county jail?”

            “This man’s,” the witness replied, pointing to Hillstrom.

            H. H. Hall, who lives at 2635 South State street, testified that he saw a man closely resembling Hillstrom get on a State street car at the Denver & Ro Grande track crossing below Twelfth South street at about 10:30 o’clock, the night of the killing.  The man boarded the cay at the front end and peered back through the car as though looking for someone.  Hall said that he noticed the man’s nose, which, he said, bears a marked resemblance to the nose of Hillstrom.  Hall also thought the general build of the man he saw corresponded to that of Hillstrom, but he was not positive in his identification.