The trial of Antonio Bruno, charged with the murder of his friend, Ginseppe Pierro, occupied the attention of Justice Irving and a jury last Monday. The story of the crime is briefly as follows: Bruno and Pierro worked for Philip Colosimo, a foreman on the Crow’s Nest Pass Railway. The two men lived together, Bruno doing the buying. On Sunday, August 7, the day after the paymaster had been round, the pair considering that they had not received all the wages due them, started off together at daybreak to get their time put right, the prisoner having a rifle. About supper time the prisoner returned alone without his rifle, saying that he had felt tired and turned back, leaving his companion to go on alone. The prisoner said he would work next day, but he kept his bed, and on Tuesday afternoon he set out with the deceased’s stuff as well as his own, traveling night and day. On Tuesday afternoon, August 9, the dead body of Pierro was found near the tote road about 3 ½ miles west of Moyie City with his skull crushed in.
Philip Colismo testified that he knew both the prisoner and the deceased, who had worked for him. The prisoner claimed to be short about $12. Prisoner and deceased slept together. He had seen the cheque produced in the dead man’s hand. The pair had left to get the time-keeper to fix the shortage. Prisoner returned saying he had not gone because he had seen friends who had short pay too, and he would wait until they could all go together. Speaking of Pierro, Bruno said, “I believe the old man is gone, and I came back.” The prisoner looked bad and his face was white. He said he would work on Monday, but did not, saying he would work on Tuesday. The last time I saw him was Monday night. He identified a cap produced as belonging to the old man.
The cross-examination by R.M. MacDonald elicited the fact that when prisoner and deceased left the shack they were apparently on good terms. To the judge the witness said he had met Bruno coming home down the grade, he was carrying something in a handkerchief. Both men were dressed as workingmen but could not describe their clothes.
The evidence of J.E. Angus, of the Northwest Mounted Police, related to the discovery of the corpse and to the pursuit and arrest of Bruno.
Antonio Grillo confirmed the evidence of the foreman.
Louis Farago also gave corroborative testimony.
Mannarino Vincenzoa had known both the prisoner and deceased. He had seen deceased with the cheque in his hand, but the paymaster would not cash it, because there was another name on it.
Salvatore Farago testified that on Monday he was carrying water all day, and had occasion to constantly pass the prisoner’s shack. Prisoner kept his bunk all day. On Tuesday, witness had seen him indoors up to 4 p.m. On one occasion prisoner had hid some papers under his blanket, so that witness, who was passing, might not see them. Last time he passed he was packing Pierro’s things. On asking why, he was told that it was prisoner’s own stuff.
After other witnesses testified as to the cheque, the prisoner testified in his own behalf. He had relieved Luigi of his coat, cached it, and proceeded to Hannington’s camp getting there about 8:30 a.m. The time keeper was not there but afterwards witness returned and found him. He could not talk to him, but showed him his time check. He asked witness some questions he did not understand, and also where he was going. Witness replied he was going away. Witness went away, rested and ate, eventually getting a check from Mr. Fraser. He got home between 6 and 7 p.m., about 8 o’clock he got Luigi’s coat, which he is still wearing. He did not work next day because he was sick. The prisoner stated that he did not go to work on Tuesday on account of having been sick on Monday. A stranger came along to the camp and stated that Pierro had gone to Nelson on the boat and had told him to tell him [Bruno] to bring his coat and papers and follow him. He took the papers but did not know what they were. On Tuesday afternoon he started for Nelson on the way to Robson, and was arrested on the steamer at Kuskonook.
The cross examination did not elicit anything of vital importance. Prisoner admitted having purchased a time cheque of Pierro’s, amounting to $32 for $15. Mr. Elliott addressed the jury at length, after which Mr. Macdonald made a strong plea on behalf of the prisoner.
Mr. Justice Irving, in summing up said that the crux of the case lay in two things, (1) the time check Pierro went east to exchange, but which was found on the prisoner, (2) the discrepancy in the prisoner’s and Fraser’s evidence as to the time they met at Hannington’s camp. There were three issues before the jury, (1) the identity of the body found on the tote road, (2) was Pierro murdered, (3) if so, did the prisoner commit the crime. After carefully reviewing the evidence at some length, his lordship concluded a very logical and impartial charge at 1:45 a.m., when the jury retired to consider their verdict.
At 3:45 the jury returned, and the foreman reported that they had been unable to agree on a verdict; a ballot had resulted in 4 to 8, and there was no chance of agreement. His Lordship discharged the jury.
This morning Bruno was again placed on trial. The case is in progress as we go to press.