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Murder Isn't Funny, It's Hysterical

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The crime scene
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By Grant Davies

On this day (-2) in 1881, a woman made it clear to her boyfriend that he would never lay eyes on her again.

She did so by shooting him in the eye. The wound was fatal, of course, so the last thing Francisco “Chico” Forster saw was Lastania Abarta, his eighteen year old jilted lover.

The incident took place after Francisco leaped from a carriage that he was sharing with Lastania and her sister Hortensia…. at their insistence.

The problem stemmed from a slight misunderstanding among the parties. It seems that Chico had a habit of promising girls that if they slept with him he would marry them. And as hard as it is to believe, he really didn’t mean it.

After a flirtatious encounter at a party where Lastania was singing, the two stole away to a nearby hotel where Chico stole the poor girl’s virtue. It wasn’t the first time Chico had pulled such a heist, he had two children out of wedlock already. When the “passionate affair of short duration” had concluded, Chico’s plan was to tell Abarta that he was leaving to fetch a priest and a ring. The part about leaving was carried out, the rest…not so much.

So after a while, Lastania figured out that it was time to enlist her sister Hortensia to help find Chico and show him the way to the church. They found him at the race track, an unlikely place for him to find a priest, and encouraged him strongly to accompany them to the waiting carriage. But on the way to the nuptials, it seems the forty year old Francisco decided his future bride could be a tad too young for him and decided to hop out of the cab and elope, minus his betrothed. For Chico, the shotgun wedding turned out to be a pistol affair instead, and the rest is history.

Lastania went on trial, but her lawyers were an early version of OJ’s dream team and they claimed she was driven by “female hysteria” (all the rage in 1881) because her brain was “clogged with blood.” They had an expert witness, a certain Dr. Joseph Kurtz, who told the court that “Any virtuous woman, when deprived of her virtue, would go mad, undoubtedly.” The  spectators in the courtroom exploded in applause when he made that assertion and the jury took only twenty minutes to find her not guilty. She disappeared from LA right after her acquittal and was not heard from again.

The moral of the story is:  if you decide to tell a girl that you will keep an eye out for her, be careful she isn’t packing heat, or you may end up never seeing her again.

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