A Sordid Subterranean Story: That Dusky Hospital on De Villiers St (Part 4)

On Sunday, October 23, 1927 the page one column of  the Pensacola News Journal headline read:

Business Man and Viola Edwards Face Indictments
Tart Makes Bond of $5,000 and is released

“Viola Edwards, negro operator of a local hospital, with E. E. Tart, Pensacola businessman, was acquitted in a court of record on a charge of manslaughter in connection was the death of Miss Dorothy Friedrichsen, is expected to be arrested today in Alabama on recharge of manslaughter in connection with the death of the event of the girl, following returning on indictments against both Tart and the negro woman by the grand jury of circuit court.” Two other indictments were forthcoming against Viola Edwards, one being the “…commission of illegal operations.”

Tart was re-arrested by Sheriff Mose Penton on the manslaughter charge but released on a bond of $5,000 paid by his brother D. H. Tart.

By this time Viola Edwards life was in shambles.  Realizing she could not survive a second trial, she bade goodbye to her husband (William Edwards) and three stepchildren and left for her home town of Wetumpka, Alabama, a small town Northeast of Montgomery.

And, although  T.T. Wentworth, Exalted Cyclops of the Pensacola chapter of the KKK wrote to Governor Martin (see letter dated August 11, 1927 to Governor Martin)  to have claimed preventing the lynching of “some one,” probably Viola Edwards, in the death of Miss Dorothy Friedrichsen, Viola was probably well aware of the 1908 mob lynching of Pensacolian Leander Shaw for the alleged fatal sexual assault of a white woman Lille Brewton Davis.  The alleged sexual assault took place about a mile north of the Viola Edwards Hospital and home on De Villiers street.

The Pensacola News Journal on Monday October 24, 1927 stated “VIOLA EDWARDS NOT ARRESTED. In the column, the newspaper stated that the authorities  believed she is in “…Wetumpka, Ala and her arrest is expected momentarily.”

By Tuesday, November 1, 1927 Viola had not been arrested in Wetumpka.  In fact she had disappeared and no one knew where she had gone.  Escambia County was desperate to have Viola Edwards arrested, as the News Journal had previously stated.  One November 1, 1927 the following News Journal headline read $100 REWARD OFERED FOR VIOLA EDWARDS.  Negress Wanted Here on Manslaughter Charge.

“Governor John W. Martin, of Florida, yesterday offered a reward of $100 ($1765.00 in 2023 dollars) for information leading to the arrest and conviction Viola Edwards wanted in Escambia county on a charge of manslaughter, according to information received here yesterday from Tallahassee. The reward, it was said, was offered at the request of Escambia County authorities.”  Little did the authorities know at this time, that Viola had made her way to Detroit, Michigan to stay with her sister-in-law.

The November 15, 1927 Pensacola News Journal Column headline read “PLEA OF ABATEMENT BY TART IN COURT OF RECORD

A plea of abatement was sworn  by E. E. Tart on his case concerning the manslaughter charge on the “…grounds that a jury [had] already found him him not guilty on the charges contain in the indictment.  The charge is in connection with the death of the [unborn] infant of Miss Dorothy Friedrichsen.

Once again the Pensacola News Journal reported on 16 November, 1927 that ARGUMENTS FOR TART DISMISSAL HEARD BY JONES was reported “…both and for against emotion filed by J. Walter Kehoe, attorney for E.E. Tart, in an effort to have the case of manslaughter against Tart thrown out of the court of record.”  Judge C. Moreno Jones took the motion under advisement and would provide a decision within the next day or two.

Meanwhile E. E. Tart was on the “hook” with the manslaughter charge. But on November 22, 1927 the counsel for E. E. Tart “…sued out a writ of error ( A writ of error that is directed to a court for review of its own judgment based on alleged errors of fact is termed a writ of error coram nobis from the Latin “before us.”  – https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/writ_of_error) in the court of record in protesting the ruling of Judge C. Moreno Jones, that Tart must stand trial on the charge.  The state supreme court will hear the motion for a writ of error, and in the case against Tart will rest on the decision of the latter body.”

Tart’s counsel argued that because Tart was charge with manslaughter in the death of Miss Dorothy Friedrichsen, the infant’s mother, and was acquitted, the similar manslaughter charge concerning the infant was equivalent to double jeopardy.  In other words he was being charged for the same offense twice.  Judge Jones did not agree, therefore the writ of error to the supreme court.

Continue unto part 5
Return to part 3
Return to part 2
Return to part 1

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