Skip to content
July 16, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part XIV


“Writs of Error”

Despite the fact that The Times-Dispatch reported that Dallas Wright proved to be a good witness on his own behalf, his second trial, held in March of 1910, ended in a charge of murder in the first degree. Judge Hundley ordered the death penalty for both Edward Jones and Dallas Wright for the murders of the Stewart brothers.

The Farmville Herald reported that Richard Perkins had been found guilty on March 23rd:

When the jury in the case against Richard Perkins brought in verdict of murder in the first degree here to-day, Judge Hall moved to set aside the verdict, but his motion was overruled by Judge Hundley.

Dallas Wright, convicted last week, was then brought into court, and he and Richard Perkins were both sentenced to be executed on the 3rd day of June. The court granted a postponement of execution for nineteen days from the adjournment of this court to allow the defendants to apply for a writ of error and sixty days in which to file a bill of exceptions.

Attorneys for the defense prepared petitions based on “writs of error” in the cases of Dallas Wright, Edward Jones, and Richard Perkins to submit to Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals. They claimed several reasons why the men had not been and could not be fairly tried in Buckingham County. Sensational headlines kept interest in the cases high. On June 11, 1910, The Times-Dispatch reported:

Serious accusations against Deputy Sheriff Ed. Carter, of Buckingham County, are made in a petition for a writ of error in the case of Dallas Wright, under sentence of death for murder. . . .

Carter is said to have had “knowledge and connivance” of a band of men which took Richard Perkins, a negro, accused of the same crime, from others and strung him up several times in order to force a confession. The petition of Attorneys Aubrey E. Strode and Jack Lee says plainly that Carter lied to Perkins,” and calls the officer a “hypocritical deputy sheriff.”

Carter, who died in 1909 as a result of a buggy accident, was not alive to counter the accusations. Later, Judge S. G. Whittle, who granted a new trial to Edward Jones and Richard Perkins, wrote in his opinion, “It is not possible to read the evidence bearing upon this episode . . . without being satisfied that the deputy sheriff connived at this partial lynching of his prisoner.” Additionally, the court found that other officials must have had some knowledge of the event, for they refused to testify on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves. The Times-Dispatch called the treatment of Richard Perkins an “outrage.”

Counsel for the defense also cited the reassignment of Buckingham’s Court from the Twenty-ninth to the Fifth Judicial Circuit during the process of these complex cases as a reason for a change of venue. The newspaper noted, “Without argument or accusation of improper conduct, which is apparently left to implication, it is merely said that Senator [Sands] Gayle, whose firm was engaged to assist the prosecution, was a member of the Senate.” Whether or not Senator Gayle had any direct involvement in the creation of the “emergency clause” which caused the reassignment of the Buckingham County Court is currently unknown.

Additionally, counsel for the defense argued that George E. Bolton’s “visionary” dream unduly influenced the testimonies of Willie Jackson and Aylett Johnston. The newspaper went on to summarize the defense attorney’s opinion of Jackson’s and Johnson’s testimony, “. . . either a miracle has happened in Buckingham county or the dream had been ground into the superstitious temperaments of the two negroes.”

Prosecuting Attorney Edmund W. Hubard wasted no time responding to the claims asserted by the attorneys for the defense.

Coming Next: Commonwealth’s Attorney Hubard Defends Senator Gayle

Need to catch up on The 1909 Buckingham Murders? Part I: June 1, 2015


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: