Evil in Otsego County: The Mallet Murderer Part Four
This is the third of a multi part series, click here for part three.
When we left off on Friday, we watched Eva Coo's goose slowly cook in a cast iron skillet. Between eyewitness accounts, exposing fabricated alibis, how she treated Harry Wright, a stack of evidence, and Martha Clift turning state's witness, a trial was sure to be a slam dunk. This was the first murder trial in Cooperstown for 13 years. Clift was the undisputed starlet of the courtroom, and was instrumental in securing a conviction despite Coo hiring a high powered attorney.
The Trial Begins
The trial of Eva Coo was as dramatic as you'd expect. Crime scene reconstructions have been commonplace since the advent of criminal trials. What was uncommon about this trial was that Harry Wright was exhumed and re-buried multiple times. Each time his corpse was dressed in second hand clothing, and brought to the scene of the murder on Crumhorn Mountain. There it was posed and moved around based on information investigators had collected.
All of the elements came together, and Eva Coo was roundly convicted of the murder of Harry Wright. Coo was convicted of first degree murder, and at the time the mandatory punishment was the death penalty. Clift was found guilty of second degree murder, and was handed a sentence of twenty years to life in prison. She served her time, was released, and never heard from again, presumably changing her name.
Imprisonment and Execution
After the trial, Coo was sent to Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York where she was put into their "Death House". Appeals to her sentence were filed and overturned. Her date with Old Sparky, the prison's electric chair was set for June 27th, 1935 at 11pm. The date was just over a year from when Harry Wright was murdered.
Coo spent her last day having a self pity party, crying and wailing throughout most of it. She composed herself when 11pm rolled around, and it was time to head to Old Sparky. Her guards seated her strapped her in, and proceeded to exit the execution chamber.
As they left, she cried out: "Goodbye, darlings!" An electrician checked over everything and waited for the warden's signal. When given, Eva Coo's time on Earth came to an end.
After the execution, the presiding warden, Lewis Lawes was critical of how everything went down. He was quoted as saying: “I don’t know if she was innocent or guilty. But I do know she got a rotten deal all around, rotten. And I’m not defending her – she may be guilty as well, but she got a raw deal. Her trial attorneys – do you know what they did to help her lately? Know what? One of them wrote to me, saying he’d like four invitations to her execution. That’s the kind of defense she had.”
Today, especially locally, the story of Eva Coo is told and told again. There are books, articles, Facebook posts, and even a locally produced film on the topic.
Thank you for following along, darlings! It's been fun putting this on paper for your reading pleasure.