Anton Woode: Boy Murderer

Anton Woode: Boy Murderer

by Dick Kreck
     
 

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As he sat behind his lawyer at the defendant's table in the courtroom, no one who looked at the sweet-faced boy could believe that he was guilty of what he was on trial for-shooting a man in the back. He was, after all, only eleven years old, if his mother were to be believed.

So begins this true tale of juvenile crime, focusing on one incident in

Overview


As he sat behind his lawyer at the defendant's table in the courtroom, no one who looked at the sweet-faced boy could believe that he was guilty of what he was on trial for-shooting a man in the back. He was, after all, only eleven years old, if his mother were to be believed.

So begins this true tale of juvenile crime, focusing on one incident in 1892: Murder by a young child. The murder itself proves to be secondary; the main focus is how this act by an 11-year-old shaped the lives of the people involved. Here again, just as he did in Murder at the Brown Palace, Kreck is able to use his journalistic senses to uncover the story within the story. What seems to be a simple case of one kid gone bad, turns into an investigation of how juvenile crime was handled around the turn of the century, and how the system has come full circle today with punishment taking precedence over rehabilitation.

Editorial Reviews

When Anton Woode arrived at Colorado State Penitentiary in August 1893 to begin serving his sentence for murder, he was just 12 years old. The homicide had occurred on a hunting trip the previous year: Woode had shot Joseph Smith in the back because he wanted his gun and his "pretty gold watch." In prison, this callow adolescent became both a national celebrity and a major reclamation project. While social reformers worked tirelessly on his behalf, Anton received extensive tutoring in mathematics, art, and foreign languages from a fellow inmate. There were setbacks: In 1900, he participated, albeit somewhat passively, in a prison escape. Finally though, after 12 years of incarceration, he was released. Denver Post columnist Dick Kreck returns us to a day when killing was a more singular experience.
Publishers Weekly
Anton Woode was convicted of shooting Joseph Smith in the back for a gold watch during an 1892 hunting trip near Brighton, Colo. What made this killing unusual was that the confessed murderer was only 11 years old. Denver Post columnist Kreck (Murder at the Brown Palace) has done a competent job of researching this case, providing documentation of how youthful offenders were treated at the end of the 19th century. In particular, Kreck covers the campaign of Judge Benjamin B. Lindsey, founder of Denver's Juvenile Court, who worked tirelessly to explain how poverty and neglect drove young people like Woode to crime and sought ways to reform juveniles. Woode was sentenced to 25 years of hard labor at a state penitentiary; the author includes a heartrending 1899 letter from Woode to the governor pleading for his release. Thanks to the intervention of Madge Reynolds, wife of an oil executive, Woode was released after 12 years in prison and was pardoned in 1906. During his incarceration, the poorly educated Woode became interested in art, learned to speak French and German and read voraciously. Kreck offers an inviting but small historical window on the still burning issue of how to treat juvenile criminals (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Denver Post columnist Kreck (Murder at the Brown Palace) details the story of a boy who shot a man in the back in 1892 because he liked the man's pocket watch. Anton Woode, only 11 years old at the time, received a 25-year prison sentence for his crime. Kreck has produced a well-researched account of Woode's life-Woode was released after 12 years, having been a model prisoner-and gives an interesting overview of juvenile justice from a Colorado perspective. He shows how the pendulum keeps moving from treating juveniles as adults to treating them as kids who can be helped, back to harsher punishments in this post-Columbine world. Alas, the book would be much improved by better editing (e.g., more care with proper name references). It is obvious that Kreck is extremely knowledgeable about his subject (there is an extensive bibliography), so his failure to offer commentary on juvenile justice today in Colorado and in the United States generally makes the book feel incomplete. Likely of moderate interest for regional (Colorado) collections only. Not recommended otherwise.-Karen Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In 1893, all of Denver was enthralled by the story of a local 11-year-old charged with coldheartedly shooting a visiting hunter for his pocket watch. As Kreck points out, the accused was at an "awkward age-too old to set free, too young to hang." Woode was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in the Colorado state prison-the youngest person ever sent there. The book follows his progress through the state's legal system-including his attempted escapes-and his life after being released. He became a cause c l bre for juvenile justice reformers in Colorado, many of whom were influential in changing the system. The author focuses as much on how late-19th-century society treated juvenile criminals as it does on Woode's specific case, revealing some fascinating details about social and class prejudices at the time. He offers lurid and well-written details of Woode, his crime, and the seedy world in which he lived. However, the small black-and-white head shots don't do justice to the narrative's potential appeal.-Sallie Barringer, Walnut Hills High School, Cincinnati, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555915780
Publisher:
Fulcrum Publishing
Publication date:
05/03/2006
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Dick Kreck is a journalist who has worked at The San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Times and is now a senior columnist at The Denver Post. Dick Kreck has written three previous books, Colorado's Scenic Railroads, Denver in Flames, and Murder at the Brown Palace.

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