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A Historic Acquittal Re Examined: Would the Earps and Doc Holliday Escape Indictment Under The Modern Grand Jury System
AuthorBonner, Kimberly Carlton
AdvisorMarsh, Shawn C.
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This thesis examines the court proceeding that followed the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona on October 26, 1881, and its likely outcome if prosecuted under modern jurisprudence. During a month-long proceeding, Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, along with Wyatt’s close friend John Henry “Doc” Holliday, stood accused of murder in the deaths of William “Billy” Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury. Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer, applying the laws of the Territory of Arizona, determined after an evidentiary proceeding that there was no cause to believe the Defendants guilty, stating unequivocally that the killing of Clanton and the McLaurys had been “fully justified.” An analysis of the evidence, modern jurisprudence, and the influence of cultural and political factors on the original decision leads to the conclusion that the outcome might be different today.