Chico Weekly Record, Chico, California – Saturday, December 25, 1897
There are already manifest movements to create a groundwork of sentiment for the interposition of the plea of insanity for the man Huff, charged with the brutal murder of Mrs. Clute in San Francisco last week. In about every case where such a plea is interposes it presupposes guilt. Huff as yet must be presumed innocent. The circumstantial and direct evidence indicate that he is the murderer but the suggestion that he is crankily insane has cropped out, and will be in full flower when the man is put on his trial. That is clearly indicated by the present premonitory suggestions, says the Record-Union.
Assuming that Huff is guilty, and that he is a crank, in certain sense is a monomaniac, he is if guilty, sane enough to be hanged. Here is a man who has lived in and about San Francisco for twenty years, working in hundreds of families, having a very wide circle of acquaintances and trusted on all aides; a man of more than ordinary intelligence, whom no one in all that time had suspected in all that time as being at all dangerous, or anything more than eccentric, his eccentricities manifesting themselves along harmless lines. Now that he is charged with a heinous offense he is suddenly discovered to have been of mental unbalance, according to the hints now creeping into the accounts of the case. If he is insane, but not enough unsettled to warrant his confinement in an asylum, he should, if found guilty, be hanged regardless of the foreshadowed plea. These insane murderers are best hanged, because every last one of them short of maniacs, like the murderer now in custody in Oakland, is subject to the deterrent influences of punishment. Every time a murderer is set free on the ground of mental derangement, the clearance is followed by a fresh outbreak of the so-called insane.
Hang these crank murderers, and those prone to such deeds will be moved to restrain their predelictions for crime. They are susceptible to fear, they know perfectly well the difference between right andwrong, and dread the noose as much, if not more, than the sane.
From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair.