Authored by McKenzie Wood
On September 9, 1891, Cass Hite killed Adolf F. Kohler in the Green River Valley of the Utah Territory in self-defense. Despite this, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. What followed were petitions, letters, and people asking one question: why?
The answer was complicated. Prosecutors in court claimed Hite killed Kohler out of anger after being called a coward (The People of the Territory of Utah vs. Cass Hite, n.d.). For Hite’s defense, Kohler shot first after Hite went to him to settle their differences without violence (Salt Lake Tribune 1892, 3). The court split when the first trial proceeded in February 1892. With no solid proof of either sides’ story besides bullet holes and a dead man, a he-said she-said predicament ensued. Witnesses contradicted each other on key points depending on which side they supported. “Ultimately,” says Knipmeyer, author of Hite’s biography, “[it] came down to which witnesses each member of the…jury believed” (Knipmeyer 2016, 147-148).Continue reading