Schmidt, Johann

Accused murderer
An itinerant journeyman who sought employment as a shoemaker in Bonn, Germany, in late 1828. He got a job with Anton Fuhrer, a local shoemaker with a bad reputation for beating up his assistants. He did not want to work for Fuhrer, but there were no other openings for shoemakers. After witnessing Fuhrer's blind rage and abuse of his (Fuhrer's) young son, Schmidt began to fear for his own safety. On Dec. 24, 1828, Fuhrer returned to the shop drunk, and found fault with Schmidt's work. Schmidt disagreed, and Fuhrer flew into a rage and seized Schmidt, holding what seemed to be a knife. Panicking, Schmidt grabbed another knife and stabbed Fuhrer once in the chest, killing him. Schmidt was put on trial in the fall of 1829 for murder, using a teacher from a Cologne school for the deaf as a sign language interpreter. The court first had to address the issue of whether a "deaf-mute" was mentally capable and therefore responsible if he committed a crime. After the judge concluded that Schmidt, at least, did know the difference between right and wrong, the jury eventually acquitted Schmidt, saying he acted only in self-defense.
Deaf Murder Casebook, p.11-19.
fl. 1829