Deno Casat (Execution of)

Deno Casat was hanged at Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 17, 1883, for the murder of an Iron Mountain Railroad employee.

Deno Casat and his father Isador both worked at the Iron Mountain Railroad shops in Argenta (now North Little Rock in Pulaski County), but the elder Casat was fired from his job as a mechanic. The pair drank heavily during the morning of October 31, 1882, and around 1:45 p.m., Isador Casat shot himself in the head and died.

Deno Casat went to the train shops about three hours later looking for R. M. Richardson, who had fired his father, but instead encountered George Barnes, the bookkeeper and head clerk of the shops. As other railroad workers watched, Casat ordered Barnes to his knees and shot him in the head, inflicting a fatal wound. Casat fled but was soon captured by a group of workers, whom he told: “I came over to kill him and I reckon I blew the whole top of his head off and I am only sorry I did not get the other one.”

He was tried on first-degree murder charges on April 2, 1883, but a mistrial was declared when one juror held out for a second-degree murder conviction. He was tried again on April 23–24 and was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to hang on June 21.

His execution was delayed as he sought relief from the Arkansas Supreme Court, which refused to order a new trial; Governor James H. Berry set Casat’s execution for August 17, 1883. The governor later denied a request to commute the sentence.

Speaking to an Arkansas Democrat reporter two days before his hanging, Casat said that Barnes had never done anything against him, saying, “Its [sic] beginning to appear to me as a dream.” However, knowing the esteemed quality of the men who had testified against him, he stated, “I’m convinced I must have committed a horrible crime,” adding that “it was the consequence of a reckless, wild life.”

Casat had accepted the Catholic faith and was tended by priests and nuns on the morning of his execution. At 12:22 p.m., he ascended the same scaffold from which murderer Nick Walker had been hanged several months earlier. “Those among the crowd who had tickets were admitted” into the jail yard, and the noose was placed around Casat’s neck at 12:27. Then, “the trap was sprung and the body shot downward, a clear fall of between eight and nine feet. A few convulsive tremors, a few spasmodic endeavours to draw breath, and the body swung at the end of the rope.” His body was suspended for twenty-five minutes before being lowered into a coffin and buried in Little Rock’s Oakland-Fraternal Cemetery.

For additional information:
“Another Act Ended.” Arkansas Gazette, November 3, 1882, p. 5.

“The Casat Tragedy.” Arkansas Gazette, April 4, 1883, p. 1.

“Circuit Court.” Arkansas Democrat, April 23, 1883, p. 1.

“Deno Casat Convicted.” Arkansas Gazette, April 25, 1883, p. 1.

“Deno Casat.” Arkansas Democrat, November 2, 1882, p. 1.

“Deno Casat.” Arkansas Gazette, April 3, 1883, p. 1.

“Deno Casat.” Arkansas Gazette, August 18, 1883, p. 4.

“Deno Casat.” Arkansas Gazette, July 13, 1883, p. 5.

“Deno Casat.” Arkansas Gazette, July 26, 1883, p. 5.

“Despair.” Arkansas Gazette, August 16, 1883, p. 5.

“Last Days.” Arkansas Democrat, August 16, 1883, p. 4.

“Local Brevities.” Arkansas Democrat, April 12, 1883, p. 4.

“Shadow of Death.” Arkansas Gazette, July 27, 1883, p. 5.

“The End.” Arkansas Gazette, August 18, 1883, p. 5.

“To Be Hung.” Arkansas Gazette, May 9, 1883, p. 4.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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