Margaret Strunk murder 12/25/1959 Colp, IL *Walter J. Goodpaster convicted of her murder, sentenced to 199 years in prison*

From The People v Goodpaster:


The decedent, Margaret Strunk, was killed by a shot from a MI .30 caliber carbine four-tenths of a mile east of defendant’s home about sunrise on December 25, 1959. Decedent and her companion, Bernard Dobraski, had been drinking in taverns in Colp, Illinois, and were returning to her home on foot. As they passed Dr. Goodpaster’s home, an altercation ensued between the defendant and Dobraski. The defendant testified that he arose early and let his Great Dane out. About 6:30 A.M. he heard the dog barking. He went outside and saw the form of a man he could not identify with a rock in his hand. An argument ensued and Dobraski, in a drunken condition, approached defendant and hit him with the rock. Defendant and his son turned and went back to the house telling Dobraski to “leave us alone.” Defendant is corroborated in his testimony by his son, who had come out of the house.Dobraski’s version of the incident is that he had thrown some rocks at the Great Dane, when defendant ran out into the road cursing them and threatening them with a pistol. He put his hand on Dobraski’s shoulder and kicked him several times. After they had proceeded east about 30 yards, defendant went back to his home.

According to Dobraski, he and the deceased had walked some distance down the road holding hands, when defendant’s truck came up behind them and stopped. As they turned around, defendant was pointing a carbine at them. He shot deceased in the head and Dobraski ran off into the woods while defendant shot two or three more times. Dobraski then fell into a creek and as he was lying there, someone shot him twice in the head with a derringer pistol.

Defendant denied being in his truck that day, denied owning the weapons involved, and denied shooting anyone.

The defendant’s primary contention is that he was not proved guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. He attacks the testimony of Dobraski connecting defendant with the shooting on the basis of his intoxicated condition, his head injury received from the shooting and his general character. Defendant also claims that it was too dark for Dobraski to identify the killer.

Dobraski’s eyewitness account of the shooting, however, was corroborated by the testimony of Lester and Lavern Johnson, who saw defendant’s truck being backed down the road after the shooting. Two employees of defendant, Hagler and Dunning, heard the shots and thereafter saw defendant’s truck backing up the road and entering defendant’s driveway. Dunning also testified that as he came to work he saw defendant leaving his house in the truck; that after the shots were fired he saw defendant’s truck being backed up to defendant’s drive.

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