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In the meantime, a
manhunt for Manuel Martinez was underway. Before long, he was tracked
down in the mountains who threatened to lynch him as a ploy to get him
to confess. In no time, Martinez spilled his guts. He was brought in
just as the jury was out on Silvas’ verdict. Martinez was immediately
booked for murder and Silvas’ jury was dismissed, pending further
evidence from Martinez.
confession, Martinez pleaded not guilty in the Santa Cruz county
Superior Court on May 16, 1922. However, two days later, it took 12
jurors only 40 minutes to find him guilty of first degree murder.
The very next day
Silvas' trial began once again in earnest. Despite the evidence, the
jury was hung and a new trial ordered.
Manuel Martinez, courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections.
A third trial was
ordered for Silvas which lasted twenty-one days, going on record as
the longest criminal trial ever held in Santa Cruz County. After
hours of debate, the jury finally found Silvas, too, guilty of murder.
On July 12th, the two
men appeared for sentencing. Martinez was sentenced to be hanged on
August 18, 1922, while Silvas was sentenced to life imprisonment in
penitentiary. Of the crime, Judge W.A. O’Connor said: "The crimes of
which you have been convicted are perhaps the cruelest ever committed
the punishment that awaits you serve as a warning to others who may
contemplate the commission of similar crimes.”
But the drama was not
yet over. The next night Santa Cruz County Sheriff George White and
Deputy L. A. Smith loaded the prisoners into a car to take them to the
state penitentiary at Florence. But, before they reached their
destination, Pima County Sheriff Ben Daniels would receive a
disturbing phone call. The prisoner car had been found rolled over in a ditch near
the car the bodies of White and Smith were sprawled on the ground
with their skulls caved in. White was already dead but Smith was still
breathing and rushed to the hospital.
immediately began an investigation, finding a place about 200 feet
from the wreck where it appeared the prisoners had jumped from the
moving car. Nearby was a blood-stained wrench that had obviously been
used to bludgeon Officers White and Smith.
Lawmen, using dogs,
immediately began to pursue the
But it was raining and the dogs quickly lost the scent. The pursuit
was given up for the night but immediately resumed the next morning.
Following their trail over the Santa Rita Mountains, they lost it near
In the meantime,
Deputy Smith died without ever regaining consciousness. As the news
spread of a third double murder, area citizens were enraged and
volunteer posses poured in from Pinal, Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz
counties, who were sent out to scout the desert and guard
The dogs were brought
in once again, but were of no help. Five days after the convicts’
escape, some 700 men were combing the area in the most extensive
manhunt in the history of the entire Southwest.
Posse and Prisoners. Over 200 men pursued the Pearson’s
murderers after they escaped during transport to the prison in
Florence. Silvas and Martinez are in middle of the
back row. Photo courtesy Nogales Herald, July
Placido Silvas escaped from prison and was
never seen again. Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections.
Finally on the sixth
day, a blood-stained file was found, that authorities believed the
convicts had used to cut off their handcuffs. Immediately, the
lawmen were on the trail
again finally catching up with the pair who were hiding under brush in
the Tumacacori Mountains. Having run for over 70 miles of broken
country, they were raving with thirst and exhausted. Arrested once
again, they were first taken to Nogales before being quickly whisked
off again to the penitentiary. This time there would be no
escape for the two men.
On the date of his execution, Martinez was granted a last minute stay
of execution. As his appeals dragged on, they were finally exhausted
and he was sentenced to die once again on May 23, 1923.
In another desperate attempt, the Mexican Consul obtained a writ that
once again delayed Martinez’s execution. However the Supreme Court
intervened, quashed the writ and the killer was sentenced to die for
the last time. On August 10, 1923, Martinez was hanged.
Placido Silvas was sent to prison for
life. However, on December 3, 1928, he escaped from a State
Penitentiary work ranch and was never seen again.
It was through these very doors that the
bandits entered twice, leaving behind a double murder each
time. Photo by Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints
A view inside the Ruby Mercantile today, Photo by Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints
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