Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Tiburcio Vasquez Trial and Murder Conviction At San Jose.
Los Angeles Weekly Star.
January 16, 1875 (Page 4).

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    The jury in the case of the People vs. Vasquez returned a verdict of "murder in the first degree, with death penalty".
    The trial of Vasquez was continued at 9 o'clock this morning. District attorney Briggs opened for the people, reviewed the evidence at length and demanded that the extreme penalty of the law be inflicted. Mr. Tully followed on behalf of the prisoner with an appeal for leniency, saying but little about the evidence except as to the uncertainty of absolute identification of Vasquez. In the afternoon Mr. Collins continued for the prisoner and the Attorney General closed for the people. The jury retired at 5 minutes to eight, and soon announced that they had found a verdict. They were brought into court and their verdict read as follows: "We, the jury empannelled to try this case, find the defendant guilty of murder in the first degree and assign the death penalty." Vasquez sat apparently unmoved. The verdict has given entire satisfaction. Otherwise it is thought that the prisoner would have been dealt with by the people.


The court opened at 9 o'clock on the 8th inst. Andrew Snyder testified as follows: When I was taken to my house it was after the shots had been fired. The dead man on the porch was named Hill. I saw Davidson's body first inside the front door of the hotel. He was shot in the left breast. There was a bullet hole in the panel of the door. It was fired from the northeast, to the barn, where I immediately went. I found a man lying on his face dead. He was shot in the side. There were wounds in the back and breast. His name was George Redford. He had arrived at the hotel about fifteen minutes before the robbers. While I was tied they went through my pockets and took my watch and robbed the store. That was after Leiva had sent for the boy. There was about $2,200 worth taken——horses and all. I saw Leiva first, and the second man came up fifteen or twenty minutes later. I was in front of my store when they arrived. The second man came in between the blacksmith shop and the house. The last two had a mule with them. One of them had a rifle and a pistol. He watched me while he tied his horse. One of them called me by name and asked for a letter. Vasquez was one of these men. It was then getting dusk. I took notice of the last two because they were armed, and because they eyed me. After I went in the store I looked for the letter and then heard someone say, "Lie down! lie down!" and then turned around and found pistols pointed at me by Leiva and another. They then took my out to my house. Before that I heard a shot behind the house.

                                I THINK I WAS PERFECTLY COOL.

That shot was behind the store. The next was in front of the store door, and I heard a heavy fall. The third, I think, was between the barn and the store. The barn is 100 feet away. The fourth shot was also fired there. I think the next seemed to be in front of the hotel. The first talk about catching the was, I think, after all the shooting was done. I was taken to the front door of the house. Vasquez took me there. He said he would not hurt me, but wanted my money, and would kill me if I did not give it up. They then took me back to the store and laid me down. I could and do identify Vasquez, he had been pointed out to me as a bad man. The store is four feet from the fence. The blacksmith shop is eighty feet.

                                TESTIMONY OF JOHN UTZERATH.

    On the 26th of August I was at Tres Pinos clerking. In the store on that day, before sunset, two Mexicans rode up——Leiva and Gonzales. The stage then came in, and while I was attending the mail Snyder came in. Then another Mexican came in and ordered us to lie down. Two others then rode up, making five in all. After I lay down they tied me and covered my head. They did the same with all the rest. I heard the first shot near the stable. The second and third were in front of store. Then one was fired at the door of the hotel. The first shot was fired about ten minutes after the last of the part arrived. They took a gold watch and chain from me. I do not know who took it, as I was covered up. There were no shots before Vasquez arrived. I had seen Moreno often before that time. Lewis C. Smith lived at Tres Pinos in August, 1873. Was in the store when the robbers came up about dusk. Two men rode up and tied the horses. One of them had on an open sleeve cloak. There were then two in the store, one of whom had a soldier's coat. Vasquez had the cloak. They then ordered Snyder to bring the money from the house. He said if they would let him up he would give them all the money he had.

                                B.F. M'PHIL'S TESTIMONY.

    I resided at Tres Pinos on the 26th of August, 1873, about one mile east of Snyder's store, and was at the store on the 26th, about an hour before sundown. Have seen Leiva. Shortly after the mail arrived I saw two Mexicans ride up and tie their horses. I recognized one as Leiva. Had a conversation with them and they took drinks. I started home. Going between the store and the blacksmith shop on my way, I met three Spaniards on horseback, who were coming from the direction of New Idria. I stood and watched them as they turned towards the store. They had gone about 500 yards when I heard several shots fired. I went back to the hotel and found Davidson lying dead in the hotel. In the front of the store I found another man lying dead, and another in the barn. I recognized Vasquez as one of the three men mentioned, recognized his manner.

                                LOUIS SCHEVER SWORN.

I was living on the 26th of August, 1873, at Snyder's store, as a saddler. Was present at the time of the robbery. It was about sundown. Two parties came and tied their horses at the front of the store. Knew Leiva and have seen him since. They went in and took a drink. I soon saw three men coming up the road. They rode up to the building. Saw Vasquez riding one of the horses. I went through the hotel to wash for supper. While conversing with Mrs. Davidson, I saw a man rushing after another man who was coming from the well. The man pursued was George Redford, and his pursuer told him to stop. Saw Vasquez shoot at him as he was standing at the back end of the wagon. Redford then made for the stable. As soon as I saw Vasquez chasing this man I started for my weapons. Vasquez spied me and I ran to the kitchen door and jumped in. Saw Vasquez again from the kitchen window at the gate. I rushed into the front room. The door was open, and Davidson was walking toward me. Leiva came up and told me to keep in the house and we would be all right. As Mr. Davidson was in the act of closing the door, Vasquez came up and deliberately drew a revolver and fired through the door and struck Davidson, who fell. Davidson died instantly. He was shot near the nipple of his left breast. I think I heard four shots fired. Took off my boots and went up stairs, and saw them moving around the place.

                                E.S. BURTON

Resided in Bear Valley, San Benito County. Was acquainted with Leandro Davidson. He resided at the Tres Pinos Hotel. I was there on the 26th of August. Arrived there between 5 and 6 in the evening with a four horse team. Put up the team and went to the house to wash for supper. Mrs. Davidson is my sister. I saw a man with a double—barreled shotgun. He told the boy to lie down, and then hit him with the gun, when the latter fell down. Saw another man chasing a man around my wagon. The man in pursuit was a low set man, with a cloak on. I went into the front of the hotel, when one of the men with a revolver came up and told us to keep in and we would not be hurt. Looking out of a window I saw a man running. I told Davidson to shut the door, which he did, but before the door was entirely closed the man who ran up fired, the bullet going through the door and killing Davidson. [Leiva was here brought in and identified as the man who told them to keep in.] Heard shots fired before Davidson was killed, two in front and two in the rear. After Davidson was killed I heard a wagon drive up, and a voice call out for somebody to get down. Another man said, "You can't scare me." He next said, "Are you going to kill me?" The reply was that "We are robbing this store and we want you to keep still."
    The Court here took a recess until 2 o'clock.
    John Haley Sworn——I reside at Tres Pinos and was there on the 26th of August, 1873. I drove my team up there, and five men came out and leveled four revolvers and one rifle at my head. I was ten yards from the building. They ordered me down. I wanted to know what they wished, and they called me a ————. One got up and poked me in the ribs. And one knocked me on the head. That man there (pointed to Vasquez) ordered me to be tied, and he took $4 50 from me. They tied me and threw me down near the horses. I asked Snyder after they had turned the horses out of the barn, if he had any arms, and said that I would help him to go after them.

                                ROSALIE SNYDER SWORN.

I resided on the 26th of August, 1873, at Tres Pinos. I saw two men, just before night, ride up. One of them was very large and fleshy, the other was a slight man. The smaller man had a gun, which I supposed was a rifle. They were leading a mule between them. They were in front of the hotel, going to the store, when I first saw them. [Vasquez here stood up.] He is very much like the man who brought my husband to the door. He is much paler now. His beard was all over his face. [Vasquez wears a mustache and goatee.] He (Vasquez) asked me if there was anyone in the room with arms. My husband said to me that they wanted money. I said they should have it if they would not hurt anyone. I brought out the bureau drawer. There was money in it——silver, gold, and gold notes. My sister in law was with me.

                                MRS. LIZZIE MOORE.

Was at Snyder's store on the 26th of August, 1873, and was present at the time of the robbery. Saw Vasquez; that's the man, (pointing to Vasquez). He came to the door with Mr. Snyder for money. Saw Vasquez when he came up to the store. Heard two shots fired; one of them was fired into the door of the hotel.

                                LEIVA RECALLED.

    Counsel for Vasquez asked for the privilege of recalling Leiva for the purpose of cross examination. Leiva was called in.
    Q.——Did you have a conversation with Sheriff Adams about the Tres Pinos affair? A.——I did at the time of my surrender. I only made a part of the disclosure. Do not remember if I told him Vasquez killed Davidson. Next had a conversation with him here, as near as I can remember. I told him here that I saw Vasquez kill Davidson——that is, I saw him shoot through the door, and heard it was Davidson who was killed.

                                THE DEFENSE.

The defense opened their case by introducing Joaquin Castro, whose testimony was to the effect that he conveyed Leiva's family to San Amedio from Cantua Creek, arriving there on the 28th of August.

                                VASQUEZ ON THE STAND.

    My name is Tiburcio Vasquez. I know Leiva. Heard him testify about the agreement to rob the Tres Pinos store. Was at Cantua Creek on the 23rd and 24th of August. Leiva said if they would go and rob the Tres Pinos store it would please him. The agreement was to go and rob, and not to kill. Leiva was referred to as the Captain. Moreno and Gonzales conducted the robbery. The agreement was that no blood was to be shed and no women were to be violated. Leiva and Gonzales were to go ahead, and the other three men were to follow in an hour. Moreno was afraid that Gonzales would get drunk, so that the three followed before the hour had expired. (Vasquez up to the arrival of the three, corroborated Leiva's statemant.) I went up to the store and left my rifle outside. He, (Leiva) went to the store. They said they had already tied them, and they laughed. Saw some tied, but did not no how many. Saw some persons outside, one was afraid they would make an alarm, when I directed my steps toward the well. I heard a shot from the direction of the stables, but did not know who fired it. On looking around, I heard a shot fired near the fence, and I then went up to the store and saw Leiva have a man by the shoulder. Moreno was with him. Then they got him on the ground, face down. I told Leiva that was not right. We had not come for that purpose. I heard Gonzales talking in the direction of the stable, where a boy was riding horseback. Leiva said he was going after him, and would bring him back alive or dead. Going toward the well I heard someone talking in Spanish, and somebody fired a shot towards the stable. Chavez was then standing at the side door of the hotel. Moreno kept guard at the store. He said some people were coming down the road, Then Gonzales came up to the well. I was on the south side of the well. Somebody opened the door of the hotel, and Gonzales told him to stop and go back, when the shot was fired. Gonzales fired the shot. I told him to quit that kind of work, and told them to go where Moreno was, and not to do anything unless told to do so by me. I told the man on the wagon to come down and not be afraid. He resisted, but came down soon and was tied. I took another man off the wagon and tied him, and told Chavez to take the two men into the stable. Leiva then came back with the boy. I told them that what they had done was very bad and that they would be pursued. Witness said he was implicated in some things that he had never been aware of before. He did not know who was the owner of the store. He took and tied him and told him that they wanted money. He took Snyder to a side door and he spoke to some lady and told her to bring the money that was in the house. She brought out a box of money and Leiva received it. He then took Snyder back to the store and left him there. He killed no one; he was innocent of the killing of any one, as there was no necessity for it.
    Cross—examined——Leiva planned the robbery. I did not tell Sheriff Rowland of Los Angeles that I planned the robbery. Saw Leiva going toward the rear of the store. I was mistaken when I said that Leiva went out of the store from the rear.

                                SHERIFF ADAMS.

Was recalled for the defense and said that Leiva never stated that he saw Vasquez shoot any one.
    Cross—examined——Don't recollect that he ever told me that he (Leiva) saw Vasquez shoot any one. Heard him state the matter of the robbery several times, but never examined particularly. He always stated that Vasquez killed one of the parties.
    This closed the case, except the arguments, which brought about a termination as published at the head of this article. He will probably be sentenced to be hung at an early day.

Newspaper images: 9600 dpi jpeg of 300 dpi jpg of original newspaper from the collection of Alan Pollack

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