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James Pappacostas murder 11/25/1922 Helper, UT *John Martin convicted; Sentenced to life in prison*

main-st-helper-utFrom John Martin’s appeal: The trial was had in May of 1929, while the homicide was committed November 25, 1922. James Pappacostas, the deceased, operated a place variously called the Last Chance Resort or the Last Chance Pool Hall in Helper, Utah. In the front part of the building was a soft drink parlor wherein were card tables, chairs, and a piano. In the rear were a kitchen and several bedrooms. Two girls, Eunice Russell and Ruby Balotis, occupied separate bedrooms in the rear of the building. The deceased lived in an adjoining room, and others occupied rooms in the building. Ruby Balotis was called as a witness and testified that on the morning of the homicide at about 11:30 or quarter of twelve she was in bed in her room, when she heard “someone knocking at Eunice’s window, and I got up to look out and see who it was.” That she then saw the defendant, Mr. Gibson, and that “he was cursing and told her to open the back door and get her things on and get out.” Thereupon Eunice Russell opened the back door and let him in. That: “He came in the back door and went in her room and he and Eunice were arguing, so Mr. Pappacostas went down and told him to be quiet, people wanted to sleep around there; and Mr. Gibson told him he didn’t have to be quiet, and kept telling Eunice to get on her coat and get out, and Mr. Pappacostas told him to leave the place again, so Mr. Gibson told Mr. Pappacostas that he would leave when he got ready, and about that time I heard a shot, and I jumped up and shut my door —. After I heard the shot fired I jumped up and shut my door and as soon as I heard the back door slam I goes out and looks out the back door and Mr. Gibson was running towards the river.” That Pappacostas was lying in the hallway where the kitchen was.

She heard three shots fired, but did not see who did the shooting and did not see any weapon in the hands of the defendant. At about the time of the first shot she heard Eunice Russell and Gibson arguing, and then the deceased talking to them, and as the first shot was fired she heard the deceased say, “Don’t shoot.” On cross-examination she testified as follows:

Utah’s Strangest Murder Tangle Faces Pardon Group
State of Utah v John Martin 1931 (conviction and sentence affirmed)


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