Stranger Assault Murders

Stranger assault murders are those that occur among strangers that do not also involve the commission of another felony. Most of these cases are street fights or bar fights that resulted in a killing.

As evidence of the infrequency with which these types of killings are treated as capital murders, there have only been ten such cases in Allegheny County history and none since 1918.

Probably the most notable of these is the Mamachtaga case, not only because it was the first capital murder to occur in what is now Allegheny County but also because it was essentially an act of war by a Native American against encroaching white settlers.

The other cases were more prosaic. Jones and Carter, both of whom were Black, were executed for an 1882 bar fight, as was the disreputable Fitzpatrick a decade later. In an era in which pardons were available to young men of a certain background, Lutz (1856) and Keenan (1862), on the other hand, were pardoned for the killings they committed during bar fights.

Kelly (1857), who killed the father of the woman he sought out for sex, had his death sentence overturned. Davis (1918), on the other hand, was executed for killing two angry customers in the brothel he ran.

Christian (1900) was sentenced to death for killing a man who had hurled racial insults at him. Milic (1903) was sentenced to death for killing a non-uniformed police officer who assaulted him during an apparent misunderstanding. Both had their death sentences commuted.

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