William Gee (c.
1881 - July 22, 1904) was the first person to be hanged in the
town of Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada. He was tried for the
murder of Miss Millie Gee, his cousin and ex-lover. The trial
took place in the Old Carleton County Court House, and he was
hanged in the Woodstock Gaol.
Millie had been seeing each other for three or four years, when
Millie lost interest and asked him not to see her anymore.
Shortly thereafter, she was hired to look after the house and
children of Bennie Gee because his wife had left him. She stayed
in the house next door with Bennie's sister Catherine and his
husband Daniel Crane.
On the fateful
evening, that of the twelfth of March 1904, a Saturday, George
arrived at Bennie's residence with a Lee Enfield Rifle that he
had borrowed from a Lt. Weldon W. Melville.
He had been drinking
steadily for most of the afternoon, but was friendly enough when
he arrived, leaving the rifle at the door. He stayed late,
playing cards with Bennie and continuing to drink until three in
the morning, when George announced that he should leave and was
helped to the door by Millie.
As he was
going out he uttered his later famous words, I suppose you
don't know that this is the night you're going to die. He
then turned around, picked up the rifle and fired. The bullet
ricocheted off the frame of the door and entered Millies chest,
knocking her to the floor.
shot, Bennie ran to the door. George fired twice in their
direction but missed. He then fled. After a time he walked the
long distance to a phone and called Sheriff Foster to turn
were called to attend Millie: Dr. Commins, Dr. Ross, and Dr.
Brown, but they could not save her life. She died the following
Wednesday a short time after giving her deposition to Sheriff
preliminary hearing, the trial was set for April 26, 1904 with
Judge Tucker presiding. Attorney General Pugsley was for the
Crown. J. Chipman Hartley and T C L Ketchum were for the
not guilty and the calling of witnesses began. In all, 23 were
called, most of them close friends and relatives. In his closing
arguments Ketchum pleaded with the jury that Gee was insane,
drunk, and too poor to mount a proper defense. He claimed a
charge of manslaughter would be more appropriate. His full
argument lasted a full hour and left Gee in tears.
argued that the crime was premeditated and that Gee couldn't
have been insane, as he had obviously realized his crime when he
turned himself in.
deliberated for only 45 minutes before they returned a verdict
of guilty. Judge Tucker sentenced Gee to hang on the grounds of
the (then) new jail.
went forward as planned, although there was a delay for the rope
to be shipped in from out of town, since no one from the town
would sell it. The executioner, Radcliffe, was swift in the
hanging and the rope snapped Gee's neck. He was pronounced dead
13 minutes afterwards.