You might recall that I posted the following headline a post or two ago: Suspect Held to Answer in Ukulele Death. Los Angeles Times, 12 June 1926. Well, here’s some detail gleaned from the San Jose News, 12 February 1929:
Fredrick Galloway confessed to killing Andrew Pashuta in San Jose on the night of 22 May 1926. Galloway, a deserter from the army, had met Pashuta through their interest in playing the banjo ukulele. Apparently they had an argument, and Pashuta threatened to reveal Galloway’s whereabouts to the army. Galloway used the crank of Pashuta’s car to kill him, and then dumped the body in some trees, returned to Pashuta’s house, stole his victim’s ukulele, drove south, dumped the car and sold the ukulele. Galloway, in fact, had left a trail anyone could follow, and he was soon arrested. He confessed to the murder.
At his first trial, Galloway was condemned to death, but he won a retrial and his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Galloway decided not to contest that decision, fearing that he might be given the death penalty again — public opinion was hot at the time, as there had been a number of murders just then in the area.
All I can say is that we can be thankful for starter-motors in cars (cranks were used to kick-start old cars), because we can’t be sure that arguments won’t break out even between ukulele players.