A common trope in Victorian melodrama that survives in stories today is the tale of a husband who comes home early and finds his wife with another man. The enraged husband shoots the interloper, and the question goes to the jury of how culpable he is of murder. Will he be acquitted of this crime of passion as a justifiable homicide? A case in Georgia from 1893 turns that story on its head.
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When C. F. Stephens suspected his wife of carrying on with his employee Frank Wilkerson, who lived with the couple, he came home early one day and indeed found the two in the bedroom in a “compromising position.” Stephens shot Wilkerson, but only wounded him. Wilkerson was armed (and therefore we can assume, not naked), and shot Stephens, hitting him between the eyes. Stephens, incredibly, lived long enough to jot down a note about the incident. Or did he?
Frank Wilkerson was put on trial. Was it murder or self-defense? There were a surprising number of witnesses for a crime of this sort. Read about the Wilkerson murder case at Murder by Gaslight. -via Strange Company