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August 3, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part XIX

19_Murder_New Trial


A New Trial for Jones and Perkins

On June 22, 1911, The Times-Dispatch reported the opening of Edward Jones’ trial in Richmond’s Hustings Court. Jones was not present; he was “seriously ill with inflammatory rheumatism in the City Jail.” The article went on to note that Jones and Perkins would be tried separately.

The following day, the newspaper reported new evidence presented in court:

After a short argument between the opposing sides, Judge Witt allowed the reading of the testimony of Moreman Carter, son of former Deputy Sheriff Carter, now dead. Carter is out of the State, and therefore beyond the reach of a summons. His evidence was to the effect that he and his father, armed with an alleged fake warrant, went to the home of Richard Perkins, one of the accused, at night, and placed him under arrest. A short distance from the house the negro was taken from the deputy sheriff and the boy was later told that the mob strung him up to a tree in an endeavor to wring from him a confession. Obtaining nothing from him, they released him. Then the deputy sheriff allowed him to return home.

Mr. Hallard, who had been a guard at the Buckingham County Jail during the incarceration of Johnson and Jackson (witnesses for all three cases), was introduced by the defense as an important witness in the afternoon. He testified to having heard the two negroes quarrel when Jones stated to his partner that he knew nothing of the murder and was not going to tell his story because he had received no payment. It was related that Johnson had said that the authorities told him they would kill him if he didn’t stick to his story. After the quarrel Jackson was placed in a cell to himself, from where he could neither see out nor be seen. Hallard stated on the stand that he informed the jailer of what had transpired between the two negroes and was told to keep his mouth shut. Then, he stated, he went to see Commonwealth’s Attorney Edmund W. Hubard, who said, “By George, keep that quiet. Don’t say anything about it.” Later he called on Attorney Boatwright and told him the same thing.

“That is the Mr. Boatwright who I defeated for Commonwealth’s attorney, isn’t it?” asked Mr. Hubard dryly.

“Yes. Sir.”

If Hallard was telling the truth, Jailer Frank Spencer, Commonwealth’s Attorney Edmund Hubard, and other unnamed officials were now implicated in the possible bribing of Edward Jones and the intimidation of Johnson as a witness to the crime.

Were Moreman Carter and guard Hallard afraid to offer this testimony while the trials were held in Buckingham County? Carter was safely out of the state and, apparently, Hallard, who was enumerated as “Willy Hillard” on the 1910 census, was no longer a guard at the county jail.

The June 23, 1911 edition of The Times-Dispatch additionally reported that Willie Jackson’s testimony of the particulars of the crime contradicted several details of his previous testimony. He now denied that he had stated that Deputy Sheriff Carter had instructed him on the details of the case and that Carter had offered both him and Johnson $60.00 each. Instead, Jackson stated that guard Hallard had offered him $60.00 to change his evidence. Hallard flatly denied the accusation.

If Willie Jackson was telling the truth, guard Hallard could now be included as one of “the officials” implicated in possible bribery.

The newspaper went on to report that Aylett Johnson took the stand. The facts presented in Johnson’s version of the events that took place the night of the crime both agreed with and contradicted Jackson’s story.

Could this intricate web of contradictory testimonies ever be sorted out?

Had, in fact, the testimony of these men been manipulated by officials, with the intention of making any judgement impossible?

Coming Next: Acquittal and Pardon

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



Leave a Comment
  1. Kimberly / Aug 3 2015 6:29 pm

    You mention the James River Clarion as a local newspaper of the time. I have not seen many local newspapers from the county from the late 1800s/early 1900s. Do those still exist or is most of this from the RTD?

    • Joanne Yeck / Aug 3 2015 6:35 pm

      Kimberly, There are only a few surviving issues of the James River Clarion, none that I have found are from the period covering the Stewart murders. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see those issues!

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