“Fight the case? No, I am guilty of the charges. I made my mistake. I am sorry,” the 24-year-old Hartman told reporters after he was arrested for murder and bank robbery.
After robbing the Abbottstown State Bank on October 14, 1924, Hartman had shot Private Francis Haley of the Pennsylvania State Police shortly thereafter. Haley had died almost instantly on the highway where he had fallen from his motorcycle, becoming the 11th state trooper to die in the line of duty. Following an intensive two-day manhunt, Hartman surrendered to police in Reading and was returned to the Adams County Jail to await his trial.
Hartman spoke to reporters, “In broken phrases, like a man repenting a wrong deed, struggling in vain with a cigarette that refused to remain lighted,” the Gettysburg Times reported. He was unshaven, agitated and weary looking.
The following day state police escorted him as he retraced his route from the time of the bank robbery until he boarded a train to Harrisburg.
At the Abbottstown State Bank, Hartman was taken into the bank and the cashier, H. F. Stambaugh, was asked if Hartman was the bank robber. When Stambaugh reminded the police that the robber had worn a mask, Hartman said, “I’m the man.”
Hartman’s parents still lived in Annville, but his mother had had a stroke two weeks earlier and was still ill. She hadn’t been told of her son’s arrest or trial. However, his father and wife did visit Hartman while he was in jail.
Hartman’s preliminary hearing was held at the end of October and only Stambaugh and George Johnson, the golf pro at the Graeffenburg Inn where Haley was killed, were called as witnesses to testify.
Hartman had no lawyer to represent him and did not want one. The judge told him that murder defendants needed a lawyer so the court appointed George J. Benner for him. The trial was held in January 1925 and went as quickly as the preliminary hearing. Hartman was found guilty of first-degree murder on January 31.
Following his conviction, Hartman was returned to the Adams County Jail to await his execution. Benner appealed for a new trial, but the appeal was denied.
“Several months’ incarceration in the Adams County jail, with freedom of the corridor granted him by Sheriff Shealer, instilled in Hartman desire to escape and he planned with and inveigled Roy Diamond, Annville, boyhood companion of his, to assist him,” the Gettysburg Times reported.
Diamond had tried to smuggle steel hacksaws to Hartman that he would have used to saw through the bars that covered the cells and windows. Diamond was caught, though, and was soon residing in the same prison as his friend.
As the date for the execution approached, Governor Gifford Pinchot granted Hartman a 30-day respite. This came about due to the efforts of Clyde G. Gleason, a professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, who was seeking a way to stop the execution.
Gleason’s last-ditch effort failed. On the morning of November 28, Sheriff Shealer read Hartman his death warrant at the county prison. Hartman and an armed guard then left the prison for Bellefonte and Rockview Penitentiary. On the morning of November 30, 1925, Edgar L. Hildebrand, a Gettysburg College student who had been helping Gleason, and a prison guard escorted Hartman to the electric chair.
Hartman’s step did not falter as he walked. “The smile remained while attendants were adjusting the apparatus before the current was applied. Not a word was uttered by Hartman as he was placed in the chair,” the Gettysburg Times reported.
He was declared dead at 7:09 a.m. He was the 155th person in Pennsylvania to die in the electric chair, which had replaced hanging as a form of execution in 1915.