May 28, 2010

Albert Fall outside Sierra County Courthouse

Defense attorney, Albert Bacon Fall, looks smugly to the right. Oliver Lee stands immediately behind him, and Jim Gilliland with hand on lapel, looks to the camera.

This image was taken at the east door of the Sierra County Courthouse in 1899. Lee and Gilliland were tried and acquitted for the murder of 8-year-old Henry Fountain of Mesilla, NM. His father, Judge Albert Jennings Fountain, was also murdered. Judge Fountain was Fall's chief political rival. The bodies of the boy and dad were never located.

Fall went on to serve as a U.S. Senator, and Secretary of the Interior under President Harding. Fall became embroiled in the Teapot Dome scandal with another former Sierra County resident, Ed Doheny. Fall was convicted of accepting bribes and went to prison. He died poor in 1944 in El Paso.

Lee and Gilliland were never tried for another crime, the killing a deputy of sheriff Pat Garrett's while trying to avoid arrest for the Fountain murders. The two men ranched in the Tularosa basin, Lee serving in the state legislature. Oliver Lee State Park encompasses part of his old ranch. Photo courtesy Patti Nunn.