• U.S.

National Affairs: Second Degree for Third Degree

2 minute read

Motoring near drab little Uniontown, Pa. one evening last September, the local district attorney and a county detective encountered an automobile careening crazily down the road, stopped it, arrested the driver for drunken driving. He was Frank C. Monaghan, a 64-year-old Uniontown hotel man. The detective took the old man’s wheel. The district attorney drove ahead, returned when he saw that the second car was not following. He found the detective staggering down the road, bleeding from a knife wound. Frank Monaghan was hauled to police headquarters for questioning. There that night he died, of “heart disease superinduced by acute alcoholism,” according to the coroner’s report.

The story might have ended there if Frank Monaghan had not had two alert sons, one of them a Yale history instructor. The sons hurried back to Uniontown, got the case reopened. After an autopsy the coroner made some surprising discoveries. His first examination, said he, had been so hurried that he had failed to notice eleven fractured ribs, a fractured jaw, fractured nose, hemorrhage of the brain, hemorrhage of the throat and internal hemorrhages. After a three-day investigation Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Charles J. Margiotti concluded that Frank Monaghan had been “barbarously and brutally beaten to death in an effort to obtain a confession from him.”

Up for trial in Somerset, Pa. last month went a State policeman who had helped to make Frank Monaghan confess. A husky. 25-year-old six-footer, Trooper Stacey Gunderman readily admitted that he had picked up the suspect, hurled him to the concrete floor, jumped on him—but only in self defense, after the old man had attacked him.

Said the judge: “The third degree . . . is an instrument which if it exists at all in this country exists only as an outlaw. . . . Those who engage in such practices must and should receive punishment.”

Said the jury last week: “Guilty of murder in the second degree.”

Wept the trooper: “I didn’t get a break.”

Stunned sat the district attorney, his assistant, a county detective, a onetime county detective, Uniontown’s night Chief of Police and another State trooper—all under indictment as participants in Frank Monaghan’s murder.

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