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Old News Stories
Eula's Sentence Commuted, 1928

From The Atlanta Constitution
November 22, 1928

EULA THOMPSON IS SAVED FROM PENALTY OF
DEATH BY GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA

DEATH SENTENCE CHANGED TO LIFE TERM BY HARDMAN

Action of Chief Executive Comes on Eve of Date
Set for Final Appeal for Woman.

FULL PENALTY PAID BY MEN IN CASE

Hardman Says Records of Case Do Not Show
That Woman Was Conspirator in Slaying.

Governor L. G. Hardman late Wednesday afternoon commuted Eula Elrod Thompson's death sentence to a sentence of life imprisonment. The commutation came on the eve of the day set for the submission of a final plea in behalf of the condemned woman, who was under a sentence of death in the electric chair following her conviction of complicity in the killing of Coleman Osborne, a merchant of Chatsworth.

Action by the governor in saving the life of the condemned woman brings to an end for the present one of the most interesting murder cases in Georgia in many years. Clifford Thompson, husband of Mrs. Thompson, and Jim Moss, a negro, have paid the penalty for their part in the murder, having been executed at Milledgeville several months ago. Although Mrs. Thompson also was convicted in the same case the governor granted her a 60-day respite just before the date for her execution had arrived and this respite was due to expire November 24.

Not Conspirator in Slaying.

The governor granted the commutation on the grounds that the records and evidence did not show that Mrs. Thompson was guilty of a conspiracy to kill Osborne but at the most was guilty of entering a conspiracy to rob the dead merchant on the night the killing occurred.

It was pointed out also by the governor that two judges of the supreme court declared in dissenting opinions that the evidence in the case was not sufficient to prove a conspiracy against the woman. The state prison commission held a hearing in the case several weeks ago and submitted a recommendation to the governor that Mrs. Thompson's death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

Details of Murder

According to the evidence in the case, Mrs. Thompson, accompanied by her husband and Jim Hugh Moss, a negro, drove to Chatsworth from their home near Etowah, Tenn., on the night the killing occurred. It was testified that they were hauling whisky and when they ran out of gas they drove to Osborne's store. The car was parked near the store and Thompson and Moss went to the store, leaving Mrs. Thompson in the automobile. While the two men were at the store they called Osborne from his bedroom and he came to the store to serve them. Soon after they arrived at the store several shots were fired and Coleman was mortally wounded. Thompson and Moss returned to the car, and with Mrs. Thompson drove back to the Tennessee town, according to the evidence. They were arrested several days late and Osborne's wife testified that she recognized Thompson's voice at the time he is alleged to have shot her husband.

Thompson protested that he was innocent in the case as also the negro. Just before the electrocution of Thompson and the negro, Mrs. Thompson, at the time confined at the Fulton county Tower, issued a confession in which she declared that Thompson and the negro were innocent and she had hired another negro to do the killing. She said in this confession that she conspired with a prominent citizen of Murray county to kill Osborne. Later Mrs. Thompson repudiated this confession and made another confession in which she exonerated her husband but implicated the negro Moss.

Governor's Statement.

The governor's statement granting the commutation to Mrs. Thompson is as follows:

"A sixty days' respite has been granted to Mrs. Eula Mae Thompson for the purpose of studying her case relative to a conspiracy on her part as relates to this crime, and after due consideration and a careful study of the case, I hereby concur in the recommendation of the prison commission, and commute the death sentence of Mrs. Eula Thompson to life imprisonment on the grounds that the records and evidence do not show a conspiracy to take the life of Coleman Osborne, but probably at the most, a conspiracy to rob Coleman Osborne.

"Two supreme court justices have declared that the evidence was not sufficient to prove a conspiracy on her part, but that the evidence at the most was not strong. The evidence does not show that Mrs. Eula Mae Thompson actually participated in the robbery or in the murder, but that Clifford Thompson and Jim Hugh Moss did participate in the robbery and committed the murder.

"Further, for the life of Coleman Osborne, two other lives have already been taken, namely, Clifford Thompson and Jim Hugh Moss.

"Ordered and directed that the sentence of Mrs. Eula Mae Thompson be, and the same is hereby commuted to life imprisonment and life service.

"This, the 21st day of November, 1928.

L. G. HARDMAN,
Governor."

Mrs. Thompson is now confined in the jail at Chatsworth in Murray County. She will be taken before the trial judge in the case and resentenced after which she will be taken to the state prison farm at Milledgeville to begin serving her term.

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