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Tennessee’s Governor Malcolm Patterson occasionally granted reprieves to a condemned prisoner so he could study the case first. But the governor was going to be married December 7, three days before the hanging. Peter’s case didn’t appear to register in his consciousness.

On December 9, Sheriff Reeder prepared for the execution, noting the rope and scaffolding were ready to be used the following day. But late that evening, Governor Patterson granted a reprieve until January 11, 1908.

Tennessee’s Governor Malcolm Patterson


Ultimately, the governor agreed with the courts. Turner was guilty of premeditated homicide. On January 10, Peter was notified the he would be hanged the next day at 1:30 p.m.

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This is Part 2 of Death in Knoxville.

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can find it here.


Peter Turner fled the scene, leaving Minnie Scott behind. His boarding house was not far from where they met. When he reached the house, the other boarders noticed Turner was drunk and distraught.

Turner told fellow boarder Charles Cheatham in a low voice that he had just killed Minnie Scott.

Cheatham listened, stunned, as Peter said Minnie told him to shoot her in the mouth. He had, but it didn’t kill her. She directed him to shoot her in the abdomen. Still, she didn’t die.

“Then she said, ‘Shoot me again, here!'” Peter placed his hand on his breast. And when he had shot her a third time, and she sank down on the ground. He knew people would come when they heard the gunshots, and he ran away.

A little later, Turner admitted to another boarder, Pat Campbell, that he and Minnie were lovers. They had made a suicide pact and he killed Minnie, as per the plan.

This time, though, his explained his failure to kill himself differently. “My heart failed me,” he told Campbell. “I couldn’t do it.” He admitted he’d been drinking, and he wouldn’t have shot Minnie if he had been sober.

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