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Baby Lester Johnson, Mary Johnson, Attorney Perry

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The Seattle Star, November 27, 1909


image of Lester Johnson

By Marion Lowe

Little Lester Johnson is still in jail. The baby who went to jail three months ago with Mrs. Mary Johnson, known as the "Queen of Fakers," is still a prisoner of circumstances.

If he is an incubator baby, procured by the woman for a sympathy play before courts, as charged by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Perry, the little fellow can't tell it. He can't institute habeas corpus proceedings to get out of there. The matrons take him out for a brief airing, then he goes--goes back to the place for prisoners.

What can an 11-month-old baby do? What can a little fellow who can't walk do to save himself from a jail life? How can a baby who can't talk tell folks how he feels?

All he can do is to grow thin and pale and weak. All he can do is to be still and sober; to lie quiet, instead of romping; to cry faintly, instead of laughing; just to look pitiful. That's all a baby can do.

What can anybody do about it?

"He shall not leave me," declares Mrs. Johnson. "It would kill me to give up my baby." But how about the baby?

"I can't take the baby from her," said Sheriff Hodge, "she is not a convict. She is here awaiting trial. I have no right to remove the child."

So the baby is there, shut in with women, black and white, of various conditions of health and morals. He is passed from one to the other all day long. And that is partly what is the matter with him, says a nurse. So much handling would make any baby sick, she says.