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Jesse Mellory

Brothers Jesse D. Mellory (also referenced as Jess Mellory) and Sumner Mellory (also referenced as Somner and Sam Mellory) were convicted of robbing the First National Bank of Caruthers and sentenced to an indeterminate term of imprisonment by Fresno County Superior Judge H. Z. Austin. Several months later, they were pardoned by the Governor of California and released after the actual robbers were indicted.

The Mellory brothers were captured and found guilty mainly because two bank employees – H. L. Smith and Naomi Hammond – identified them as the bandits who had held up the bank and taken $2,200, and another eyewitness, Hans Quilt, also testified at trial that Jesse had bumped into him as he retreated from the bank following the robbery. The jury deliberated only ten minutes before returning the guilty verdict. Their motion for a new trial was denied and on December 24, 1931, the Mellorys were sentenced to San Quentin prison.

Less than a week after the Mellory brothers were sentenced, the Caruthers First National Bank was robbed for the second time and approximately $4000 was taken on December 31, 1931. This, and an affidavit written by Mrs. Anne Mellory, wife of Jesse, led Governor Rolph to order Clarence S. Morrill, chief of the State Identification Bureau, to conduct a special investigation into the circumstances concerning both robberies. In early April 1932, the investigation led to the discovery of new evidence which exonerated the Mellorys and incriminated five other suspects: Willis C. Canfield, Lee E. Thompson, Herbert Vincent, his son Gordon Vincent, and his son-in-law Arthur Gordon.

Canfield’s and Thompson’s confessions on April 12, 1932 led to the indictment of all five men on April 20 1932. Herbert Vincent was sentenced to five-to-life imprisonment for second-degree burglary, and his son Gordon, to one-to-ten-years on the same charge. Arthur Gordon was given a one-to-fifteen year term for robbery charges, and Willis C. Canfield received a similar prison term for robbery. Charges against Lee E. Thompson were dismissed by the district attorney because Thompson had cooperated in helping to convict the other four men.

On April 21, 1932, Jesse D. Mellory and Sumner Mellory were released after having both received pardons signed by Governor James Rolph, Jr.

– Researched by Ayse Tucker
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1931
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID