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Background

An immigrant coal miner, Vincent Voycheck stabbed to death his landlord Andrew Stupka. He fled following the crime but was captured a few hours later by constable Frank Shearer and taken to the county jail where he was placed in the custody of sheriff Win S. Smothers.

The Trial

The trial against Voycheck began March 1, 1912 before Judge Harry R. Wilson. The district attorney was William J. Geary. Attorneys Hogn T. Reinsel and John S. Shirley had been named counsel for the defense. Among numerous witnesses were several prominent people in the county. Dr. H.B. Summerville, Dr. John T. Rimer, D.E. Snyder, E.B. Murford, George Eonick and widow of the slain man, Mrs. Mary Stupka. Serving on the 12-man jury were A.L. Wiser, C.H. Fye, Fred Metz, Arthur Latshaw, J.P. Gilmore, James E. Hefren, Peter Peters, J.M. Polliard, D.P. McKinley, E.V. Curll, and E.L. Over, and L.L. Jordan. On March 4th the jury reached a verdict which read: we find the said defendant Vincent Voychek guilty of a felony and muder in the first degree. Twenty days later defense counsel entered a motion for a new trial. This action was over-ruled by judge wilson and on April 1 he pronounced the sentence: the sentence of the court is that you, Vincent Voychek, be taken hence by the sheriff of Clarion County to the jail of said county and there to the place of execution within the walls or yard of said jail and that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead on the date the governor of the commonwealth shall appoint andy may god in his infinite wisdom have mercy on your soul.

The Hanging

The sentence was carried out as ordered and it was 10:07 am on June 1, 1911 that Voychek was pronounced dead by hanging. The clerk of courts at the time was Henry M. Hufnagel whose hand inscribed the entire proceedings of the case.

The late H. Les Carson who witnessed the execution said that the invitations issued by the sheriff were highly valued and that a goodly number of citizens were highly incensed when they were not invited. He also stated that a woman, Zoe Himes, secretary in a courthouse office pulled the cord that released the trap on the gallows.

Hanging Invitation

This invitation to a hanging — the only execution in the history of the county — was issued to and used by the late Foster M. Mohney, who was prothonotary and also served occasionally as deputy sheriff. The card is a valued item among other historic articles owned by his son, Claude E. Mahney of Clarion.

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