Irish immigrants John Conroy and his wife, Margaret, and their two small children scraped together a meager existence from his work as a hod carrier. They quarreled frequently, apparently over a period of years. Conroy, who was two decades older than his wife, had been married previously.
On the evening of December 2, 1902, their neighbors on Wickliff St. in Lawrenceville heard the familiar sound of their arguing. Margaret had accused her husband of infidelity. As he fumed, she fell asleep with their youngest child.
An hour later, four shots were heard. When the neighbors responded, Conroy told them he had killed his wife. The neighbors held Conroy until police arrived.
In his defense, Conroy claimed that after their quarrel had ended, he was kneeling in prayer at his bedside when he opened his eyes to see Margaret pointing a gun at him. He turned the gun on her and shot her three times.
At trial, Conroy faced crime scene evidence and testimony from neighbors that painted a clear picture of the evening’s events. He was convicted of first-degree murder on April 30, 1903. After his motion for a new trial was rejected, he was sentenced to death on May 28.
His routine appeal (Commonwealth v. Conroy, 207 Pa. 212, 1903) was rejected on November 9, 1903. John Conroy went to the gallows on February 25, 1904. Newspaper accounts indicate he died by asphyxiation.