Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You Be the Jury - Guilty or Not Guilty Part 2

Yesterday I described a trial from 1856 as described in a newspaper article. The Killing of J. H. Spears was published by the Louisville Courier Journal on April 29, 1856, p.1. If you haven't read it yet, go to yesterday's post before you read the rest of the article. For those who have, here is some additional information.


Note: The Allen Revolver used in the killing may have looked something like this:

The Trial 

There was a very large crowd in attendance upon the trial, which lasted from Wednesday until Friday evening, the case being continued each night until 11:00 or 12:00 o’clock. The lawyers for the prosecution were Hon. Richard Hawes, R.W. Woolley, Richard H. and Robert Hanson and Capt. W.E. Simms; for the defense, Hon. Garrett Davis, Col. T.T. Martin, and W.W. Alexander. The judge committed him for further trial on Thursday, but the question of bail was argued by Davis, Alexander, Woolley and Simms until the next evening. Judge Samuel refused to allow him bail.

The case was conducted with great power and force. The speeches were very eloquent and able and that of Capt. Simms was particularly moving. His voice faltered and he shed tears in its delivery. He described the deceased as his most particular associate and his best friend – one who he deemed incapable in any but the noblest of actions – cut down in the prime of his life when health, happiness, etc. were before him. The favorite and eldest son of an old man who leant upon him for support, and his widowed sister’s idol.

Mr. Spears was a single man about 30 years of age of fine manly form and address, was at one time a resident of Louisville, Mississippi and the Eastern cities, as agent of the large mercantile and manufacturing house of his father in Paris, and, by his genial manners, drew around him a host of young associates who will deeply sympathize with his large and influential relations in Bourbon, at his sad and untimely fate. The Citizen says he was buried by Odd Fellows and followed to the grave by an immense concourse.

OK - so now you know the victim was very popular, well-thought of, and influential in the community? Do you want to change your vote? Guilty or not guilty?

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