Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Thanks for your comment, Frank!

| June 30, 2021 3:08 PM

My friend Frank Frutchey's letter to the Shoshone News-Press, relating the story of a case not unlike the Rossi murder in Wyoming 65 years ago, has a parallel in my book. A Mr. J.O. Sensobaugh in Texas in 1922 made legal history in that state with his case, prompting the legislature to craft a strange new provision in its homicide laws.

Here is the brief account offered in THE ROSSI MURDER at page 100: 'Not the least curious feature of the Texas statute was its provision that any injury the husband caused to the wife’s paramour “…was only justifiable when inflicted with the intent to kill.” Weinstein explained that this element derived from the Texas case of Sensobaugh v. State in 1922. J.O. Sensobaugh, when he chanced upon his wife in the embrace of another man, didn’t kill him. Instead, he detained her lover at gunpoint, tied him up in a chair, and then severed his offending appendage with a razor. Sensobaugh was arrested for maiming his victim. At trial, the defendant argued that if, under Texas law, he possessed the right to kill his wife’s paramour then surely he also had the right to maim him as well. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals partly agreed but nevertheless upheld his conviction. Sensobaugh was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail and given a $300 fine – the leniency of his penalty thus speaking volumes about where the Texas court’s ultimate sympathies lay. “For most of its history,” one legal analyst prudently cautioned, “Texas was an unusually dangerous place to get involved with another man’s wife.”' Thanks for your comment, Frank!

Ron Roizen,


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