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Gun Girls' Get Life For Murder In $2.10 Holdup" - Rockford Morning Star Feb. 16, 1938 Newark, N. J., Feb. 15--(AP)
Mrs. Ethel Strouse Sohl, policeman's daughter, and Genevieve Owens, her companion in a $2.10 holdup during which a bus driver was slain were convicted of first degree murder tonight by an all-male jury which recommended mercy.
The verdict, reached after three hours and 44 minutes deliberation, makes life terms mandatory for both the girls.
Mrs. Sohl, 20 based her defense on an insanity plea in that she was under the influence of marihuana during her brief crime career.
Miss Owens, 18, testified during the eight-day trial that she remained in an automobile while Bunny Sohl shot and robbed William Barhorst as he stopped his bus in suburban Belleville Dec. 21.
Tears In Eyes
Tears came to "Bunny's" eyes and she pressed a green handkerchief to her face as Jury Foreman Zoltan Zilahy, 28 of Butley, replted to Common Pleas Judge Daniel J. Brennan:
"Yes, we find both defendants guilty of murder in the first degree, but with the recommendation of life imprisonment at hard labor."
Miss Owens cried, wet her lips with her tongue, drying them quickly with nervous dabs of a white handkerchief.
Patrolman Frank Strouse of Newark, "Bunny's" father, who testified in her defense, bit his lips as he checked himself from crying. His wife had gone home to await the verdict.
Judge Brennan thanked the jury, all of whom were married men, for performing what he called "never a longer, more gruelling; difficult task."
"You have reached to your very great credit," he said "what the court conceives to be a just verdict on the facts of the case."
Mrs. Mary Kelly, a matron, led the girl-defendants quickly out a side door of the court room.
Undecided On Appeal
The girl's attorneys said they were undecided whether to appeal. Counsel for Mrs. Sohl and Miss Owens had asked for acquittal.
Judge Brennan told the jury two other verdicts were possible--first degree murder, with the death penalty mandatory, and first degree murder, with a recommendation for life imprisonment.
Outlining the law, which defines a slaying during commission of a felony as first degree murder, punishable by death unless the jury recommends mercy, Prosecutor William A. Wochenfeld requested a "verdict on the law in accordance with the dictates of your conscience."
Mrs. Sohl, blonde, boyish and a former athlete, testified she shot William Barhorst, 34 in his bus at suburban Belleville last Dec 21.
She pleaded "insanity" saying continual smoking of marihuana cigarets made her unable to distinguish right from wrong.
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