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September 19, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part XXXVII

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A Hung Jury

At least some of the “intelligent” citizens of Buckingham County had predicted a hung jury in the trial of Cliff Wooldridge for the burning of John S. Forbes’ property. The correspondent for The Times-Dispatch reported on July 29, 1904:

After a trial lasting through nearly two weeks of summer weather, during which time scores of witnesses were examined, hundreds of speeches were made, thousands of dollars spent, and a myriad of conjecture set forth, the case of the Commonwealth against E. C. Wooldridge upon the grave charge of the burning buildings upon the estate of the late John S. Forbes, is as great a mystery as ever, and his attorneys are as far from a satisfactory conclusion.

After three hours of deliberation, the jury foreman, Mr. David L. Jones, of Arvonia, revealed that the jury could not agree on a verdict. They added that Judge Hundley might keep them there another week or even until Christmas and they would not reach agreement. Thus, Judge Hundley dismissed “the twelve faithful men” and they returned to their homes “from which they have been absent so long.”

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Interestingly, The Times-Dispatch printed how the jury voted. Three were for acquittal: G. W. Moss and Leon R. Pollard, both of Shepards, and B. L. Apperson of New Canton. Those who were in favor of conviction were: David L. Jones, W. D. Brown, J. H. Cox, H. F. Baughan, J. M. Oslin, W. T. Hudgins, W. A. Maxey, R. B. Hanes, and C. H. Agee.

The newspaper reiterated the fine performance of prosecutor Edmund Hubard, who held the jury and the vast crowd in the palm of his hand. He had more than given his all for the Commonwealth. According to The Times-Dispatch, “it would be hardly doing the speech justice to say that it was a great one; in many respects it was magnificent.”

The speaker, who is always a man of eloquence and of force, was in the best of trim, his voice was strong, his intonation clear, his argument was a well nigh perfect one from all lawyers’ standpoint.

He took the case from its very beginning and brought down every possible point in order and made out of the whole a terrific arraignment of the prisoner at the bar. At times his denunciation of the crime, and of the criminal, was awful. As a prosecutor, Mr. Hubbard (sic) is unsurpassed. Many prominent visitors hearing him to-day said they considered Mr. Hubbard the finest prosecutor in the State. From his speech heard to-day, it would not be hard for anyone to draw such a conclusion. Mr. Hubbard closed his speech in a splendid peroration leaving many of the audience in tears. When he took his seat it was not difficult to see that he had left a profound impression upon the jury.

Even Judge Hundley admitted that “The Famous Forbes Case” was the most mysterious and uncertain to be heard in Virginia in many years.

Coming Next: More Trials to Come

Need to catch up? Click here for The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County: Part I

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