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Thomas Berdue
« on: May 26, 2014, 03:52:04 PM »
On February 19, 1851, two men robbed San Francisco dry-goods merchant C.J. Jansen & Company and assaulted the proprietor before making off with $2,000 in gold coins. The following day, police arrested James “English Jim” Stuart, an infamous Australian career criminal. Stuart was identified as the robber, but there was one problem: The suspect denied he was James Stuart, calling himself another Australian immigrant named Thomas Berdue.

Authorities refused to believe this story, especially after several witnesses positively identified Berdue as James Stuart. Both Berdue and Stuart just happened to have a small scar over their left eye and an amputated section of their left forefinger.

Since no one believed Berdue’s claims, he stood trial for Stuart’s crimes. He received a 14-year sentence for the robbery, and things then got even worse for him. James Stuart was also wanted for the murder of a sheriff in nearby Marysville, so Berdue was found guilty of this murder and got a death sentence.

However, before Berdue’s execution could be carried out, he finally caught a lucky break. The real James Stuart was apprehended while attempting to rob a ship in San Francisco. Stuart confessed to the sheriff’s murder and the robbery, and on July 11, he was hanged a mere two hours after being sentenced.

Once news of Stuart’s execution reached Marysville, Thomas Berdue was finally exonerated of Stuart’s charges and released.--

...than to speak out and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

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