PORTSMOUTH'S TRIAL BY FIRE
THE TRIALS OF THE PORTSMOUTH FIREBUGS, 1897
Transcribed from the Portsmouth Star by Evelyn Cataldi
for the Portsmouth Wilson Memorial History Room.
A gang of firebugs and robbers caused untold misery in Portsmouth, Virginia in March 1897. The gang was apprehended with arrests starting on April 8, 1897. The Mayor held police court to hold the men over for the Grand Jury.
This earlier information is stored as "Portsmouth Fires #1".
The gang members accused consisted of Edward Dolman (J. F. Doleman); Ned Crismond; Frank Linn (Lynn); Ellis Jobson; John E. Glover; Charles Cook(e)
TRIALS OF ACCUSED PERPETRATORS OF FIRES AND ROBBERIES.
COMMONWEALTH vs. J. F. DOLEMAN
1st trial -- House Breaking & Thos. Davis' Store Robbery
Commenced May 12th -13th -14th -15th - 17th -18th -19th -21st -22nd &24th, 1897
Verdict -- Guilty and two years in Penitentiary.
2nd trial -- House Breaking & Fire at Jones' Oyster House. On 25th May, trial was set for May 28th - 29th - 31st & June 1st - 2nd - & 3rd.
Verdict -- Guilty and two years in Penitentiary.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 12, 1897
THE DOLMAN TRIAL
The Defense Asks More Time, Then for an Outside Venire, and Finally For Change of Venue
The Hearing Still in Progress with the Reporters on the Witness Stand.
Ned Dolman was arraigned in the hustings court this morning charged with breaking into Sam Davis' store, in Lincolnville, on the night of March 19. The courtroom was crowded with witnesses and spectators. Murdaugh & Marshall, for the prisoner, asked for a continuance on the ground that they had not had time to prepare a defense, but the motion was overruled and exceptions noted.
The defense then moved, under section 3159 of the code, that the jury be drawn for the trial of the case from an adjacent county or city. Dolman's affidavit, stating that in view of the prejudice against him, he does not believe he could safely go before a jury of Portsmouth men, was read in substantiation of the motion. The prisoner made an affidavit, also, to the effect that the city had made itself a party to the trial by having offered a reward for the capture of incendiaries; that he believes that his case would be prejudiced if tried before a Portsmouth venire, and prayed a jury be procured from elsewhere.
The motion was argued at length by Capt. Marshall, but it was refused, the court stating that the Portsmouth panel must be exhausted and, if impossible to get a competent jury, then one may be drawn from some other jurisdiction. The defense then made a motion for change of venue to some other corporation court, and introduced witnesses to prove that from the general trend of public opinion the prisoner could not get a fair and impartial trial here.
The reporters of the local papers were put on the witness stand.
The venire was asked to retire from the courtroom during this examination.
The defense attempted to prove its contention of prejudice by reading the advertisement for $500 reward for arrest and conviction of incendiaries, and asking the witnesses questions about it. The commonwealth objected that Dolman was not on trial for incendiarism, but for housebreaking, and the court ruled the defense down to asking the witness whether, in his opinion, the breaking in of Davis' store had created in the mind of the public such prejudice that the prisoner could not get a fair trial on that charge. There was more and still more argument, and time began to draw heavily, two hours having already elapsed since the case was called. The court subsequently gave the defense wider latitude, and they were permitted to ask pretty much any question they pleased.
Mr. J. W. H. Porter, the first witness, said the general opinion was that the prisoner was guilty.
Several other newspaper representatives were examined, after which the court adjourned. The arguments on the motion for change of venue will be continued tomorrow at 10:30 o'clock. Hereafter the sessions of court will be from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and from 4 to 6 o'clock p.m.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 13, 1897
TRIAL OF NED DOLMAN
He is to be Tried for Housebreaking at Davis' Store
His Counsel Moves for a Change of Venue.
In the Hustings Court yesterday, Judge Watts called the case of Ned Dolman, charged with robbing Tom Davis' store on March 19th. Colonel Griffin, Major Crocker and Colonel Stewart were on hand for the Commonwealth, and Captain R. C. Marshall and Judge C. W. Murdaugh appeared for the prisoner.
The Commonwealth announced that they were ready, but Judge Murdaugh said that he was not, and asked for a continuance on the ground that the prisoner was indicted only last week, and as there were six indictments, counsel had not had time to prepare for trial. Colonel Griffifn opposed a continuance, and was followed by Captain Marshall, who argued for additional time in which to prepare.
Judge Watts decided that the trial must go on at once, and counsel for Dolman asked that exception to the ruling be noted.
Judge Murdaugh then, under section No. 3159 of the Code, moved that a jury be summoned from the adjacent city or county, and submitted an affidavit from Dolman stating that he was of the opinion that he could not secure a fair trial from a jury in the city of Portsmouth on account of the deep prejudice existing in the city.
A further affidavit was submitted from Dolman, showing that as the city of Portsmouth, by offering a reward of $500 for the arrest and conviction of any person setting fire, had been made a party to this trial, he was, under the law, entitled to have a jury summoned from outside of the city.
The attorneys for the Commonwealth claimed that Dolman was to be tried for house-breaking and not house-burning.
Judge Murdaugh said that Dolman was indicted for six offenses, some of them for house burning, and that all of these cases were closely connected, and the same prejudice existed in all.
The Court said that the application would be refused until after it had been decided whether a jury could be had in the city or not.
Judge Murdaugh, after asking the Court to note exceptions in the ruling above, made another motion and affidavit based on section 4036 of the Code for a change of venue.
Colonel Griffin contended that this trial had nothing to do with the reward offered or the house burning cases. It was for robbing Tom Davis' store.
Captain Marshall here called all the newspaper reporters as witnesses to show the condition of the public mind and the prejudice existing in the community against Dolman.
When the first witness, Mr. Porter, was called, Colonel Griffin asked that all who had been summoned as jurors retire from the courtroom, and this was done.
The arguments on the motion for change of venue will be continued today at 10:00 o'clock. Hereafter the sessions of court will be from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and from 4 to 6 o'clock.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 13, 1897
THE TRIAL OF DOLMAN
Continuation of the Fight for Change of Venue.
May 13th, 1897 -- The Dolman trial was resumed this morning, Dolman's lawyers continuing their fight for a change of venue. Yesterday, Messrs. Murdaugh & Marshall for the defendant endeavored to show by the newspaper reporters that it would be extremely difficult to procure a Portsmouth jury that could and would give their client an absolutely impartial trial.
Today, Messrs. Crocker and Stewart put upon the stand the following gentlemen to show that a jury could be had here which could and would give the client an absolutely fair trial.
Mr. W. V. H. Williams was the first witness put upon the stand, and stated that in his opinion, the people of Portsmouth were as fair and impartial in the trial of criminals as any people he had ever known, and that he believed that a Portsmouth jury could be procured who could and would give an absolutely fair and impartial trial regardless of the crime committed, or the conditions or standing of the participant, whether white or black, and regardless of circumstances, and that the prisoner would have no difficulty in obtaining a perfectly fair trial.
Mr. H. L. Maynard was the next witness and said that he believed there would be no difficulty in procuring a jury that would render a fair and unprejudiced verdict. Dr. A. L. Bilisoly, Messrs. John H. Hume; John L. Watson; John T. King; Thos. Scott and John C. Emmerson testified in substance as above, that they thought a fair trial could be had from a Portsmouth jury. The examining of these witnesses occupied the time of the court from 11 o'clock until 2, and the case bids fair to drag its weary length through the whole hot summer season, judging by the progress made in the beginning. At 2 o'clock Judge Murdaugh opened the argument in defense of his motion for a change of venue. Judge Murdaugh made a vigorous speech, clear and logical.
Maj. Crocker followed in a very brief address and at the conclusion of his remarks a recess was taken until 4 o'clock, at which time Capt. R. C. Marshall will continue the argument for the defense. After today's afternoon, session court will adjourn over until Saturday morning on account of tomorrow being Memorial Day.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 14, 1897
THE DOLMAN TRIAL
May 14th, 1897 -- In the continuation of the Dolman case yesterday in the court of hustings, Capt. R. C. Marshall, of the defense, began his argument at 4 o'clock and got through with it at about 6:30. He said that the newspaper reporters had been sum- moned as witnesses without their having been seen beforehand, and for the reason that they were in a better position to know and judge of the feelings of the community than any other class of citizens. He further argued that their verdict was almost unanimous as to the strong feeling and sentiment prevailing against the gang of depredators. In conclusion, he asked the court to sustain his motion for a change of venue.
Judge Watts briefly reviewed the evidence. He said that out of six reporters who had testified for the defense, two of them had really proved to be witnesses for the common- wealth, and that all of the gentlemen who had been put on the stand by the common-wealth had said that in their opinion the charges made in Dolman's affidavit, to wit: That he could not possibly get a fair trial in Portsmouth -- were false, and that the evidence conclusively showed that a fair and impartial jury could be had here, and that he would overrule the motion for change of venue.
Judge Murdaugh, for the defense, then attacked the venire facias [the paper issued by the court in summoning the jury, commonly called a writ] of the grand jury and of the petty jury, which latter had been summoned to try the case for the reasons, first, that the notice of 10 days had not been complied with; and second, that the sergeant had not made a proper return to the court in that his endorsing the paper "Executed. (Signed) Williamson Smith" was not done in the proper manner.
The court overruled these two motions and granted the sergeant time (until Saturday morning) in which to summon a new jury.
The lawyers for the defense noted exceptions to these rulings, and for awhile hostilities had to be declared off to give the prosecution time for consultation in the ante-room.
It seems to be a real legal fight between the lawyers, each side trying to trip the other.
The jury may be called tomorrow, but owing to the alertness on both sides and the extreme caution of the judge, the preliminaries may last through another week.
The sheriff is engaged today in summoning a new jury in strict accordance with the requirements of the law.
A few minutes before 10 o'clock this morning, the crowds began to file into the court room in order to get good seats for enjoying the proceedings of the Dolman trial. Court was called promptly at 10:30 o'clock, but it was a half hour later before the case was resumed. It seemed rather queer to a silent observer that as each lawyer came in and was given the compliments of the morning and asked how he was, or how he felt, that each one of them said that he was not feeling well, or that he had not slept well, or was more or less indisposed.
Mr. H. C. Niemeyer was appointed by the counsel for the prosecution to act for them as court reporter.
The case was opened by the defense giving notice to the court that it did not waive the exceptions to the venire facias as entered on Thursday afternoon.
The new venire facias was read by the clerk of the court.
The jurors (16 in number) were called under this venire and all answered to their names.
Five of the jurors names were not returned exactly correct as to initials, and the correcting of these names brought about lengthy arguments from both sides. The names (corrected as to initials) were finally allowed to pass, the defense noting an exception to the ruling of the court. After this, Judge Murtaugh moved that the indictment be quashed upon the ground that the grand jury was not made up according to law and the same was not legally constituted, drawn and summoned.
This motion was followed by lengthy arguments and consultations, which bid fair to last through the day.
At 1 o'clock the jury was called in and adjourned until Monday, and the arguments for and against the motion continued. The court papers relating to the case in summoning the grand jury were sent for and brought to the lawyers for the defense and much time was taken up in examining them.
The list of grand jurors was attacked by the defense and many exceptions in it noted. Capt. Marshall said that the statute required that 48 names should be listed in August, from which the grand juries of the next 12 months should be drawn, and that this list had 60 names upon it; that the paper was not signed, and did not show upon its face that it was the production of the court. The commonwealth put the deputy clerk of the court on the stand to show that the paper was the same given to him by the judge.
Mr. Thompson, in his testimony, showed that the paper in question was an exact copy of the list given him by the judge.
At 3 o'clock the court took a recess until 4 o'clock.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 15, 1897
FIVE JURYMEN SECURED
BUT LITTLE DIFFICULTY EXPERIENCED SO FAR IN
FINDING UNBIASED VENIREMEN
The Norfolk County Authorities Want Linn, Jobson and Crismond to
Testify in Connection with the Trial of Geo. Bland and Geo. Cherry
Court opened this morning at 10:50 o'clock. The judge stated that he had decided to overrule the motion to quash the indictment and did so. Counsel for the prisoner excepted to the ruling.
Capt. Marshall said the following paper had been handed him (passing the paper over to the judge) and that he had reported the matter to the Norfolk county authority, Justice Rutter. The matter, he said, referred to three witnesses who were now in jail; that it was the request of the commonwealth of Norfolk county that the judge of the husting court allow the jailor (Abbott) to turn the prisoners over to the justice of Norfolk county for examination upon certain charges now pending against three men, Bland, Cherry and Craig.
Maj. Crocker objected in this and asked that the commonwealth's attorney of Norfolk county postpone the county examination to some future date.
Capt. Marshall said that these men were in jail and should have an early hearing. The paper referred to was one charging Bland, Cherry, and Craig with robbing Walker's store in the county, the particulars of which have been published before.
Judge Watts took the case under advisement and said that he would announce his determination later.
Col. Stewart said that he and his colleagues had been investigating for a month or more, charges against this organized gang of firebugs and house-breakers and that none of those men charged with complications in these crimes should be allowed now to go out of the jurisdiction of the commonwealth. Said he:" We have a sacred duty to perform as to the city of Portsmouth, its citizens, and even to those witnesses, to protect and defend them; and nothing should be allowed to come in our way that would prevent us from ferreting out these lawbreakers and giving them the punishment deserved."
Counsel for the defense demurred to the overruling of the motion to quash the indictment.
Demurrer overruled and excepted to by defense.
The prisoner, Ned Dolman, was then arraigned upon the charge of robbing Tom Davis' store. He pleaded not guilty.
The jury was then called and 15 of them answered to their names, Mr. Tabb being absent.
Mr. R. Frank Welton was the first sworn. He stated that he could give the prisoner a fair and impartial trial.
Mr. Cabel N. Moody was next called and sworn, when counsel for the defense objected to any further testing of these jurors upon the ground that only 15 of them were present, when the law required 16.
The court stopped the proceedings for the while and stated that it would wait for Mr. Tabb, who would arrive a little after 12 o'clock.
After waiting about 10 minutes, Mr. Crocker asked that the case proceed, as there was not sufficient reason for this delay, and the court so ordered. Defense noted exceptions.
Mr. Moody, the second juror, stated that he could give the prisoner a fair trial and was not influenced by any thing that he had heard or read. This juror was also accepted as a competent juror.
Mr. Gillie Vermillion was the next juror examined. He passed a satisfactory examination and was accepted.
Mr. Geo. W. E. Lawrence came next and stated, in answer to questions of the court, that he had already formed opinions as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner; that his mind was "made up." Mr. Lawrence was excused.
Mr. E. W. Tabb was next called. He stated emphatically that he believed all of these men, including Dolman, guilty; that his opinion was already formed. He was excused.
Mr. J. C. Richardson passed successfully and was accepted, as was also Mr. R. Lee Albert.
The latter made the fifth competent juror passed upon up to 2:30 o'clock, when the court took a recess until 4 o'clock. Before adjourning, however, the judge took occasion to caution the jurors against allowing any one to talk to them about the trial.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 18, 1897
THE DOLMAN TRIAL
OUT OF A PANEL CALLED TODAY, ONLY FOUR MEN ARE ACCEPTED
Some of the Jurymen Don't Read the Papers
One Had Not Looked Into a Paper for Three Months
Possibly the Trial May Begin at Tomorrow's Session of the Court.
The Dolman trial was resumed this morning in the hustings court by the further examination of jurors, nine of which were secured up to last night from the first panel of 16 called.
This morning, a new panel was called, and out of this lot 4 more were accepted as competent and 12 rejected. So far 13 jurors have been found acceptable.
Court adjourned today at 1:30 o'clock in order that the sheriff might issue another venire facias. The trial will be resumed tomorrow morning at 10:30 o'clock. But three more jurors have to be secured, and it is fair to presume that the real start of the trial will be made some time tomorrow.
The following gentlemen composed the panel as called this morning: John T. Drewry; W. H. Dray; C. W. DeGaribody; John H. Boatwright, J. Wilson Butt; W. J. Luke; C. E. Adams; R. E. Crump; Bryan Corwine; F. C. Dempsey; William Emmerson; M. Lee Eastwood; J. H. Flythe; F. B. Reese. These all said they could give the prisoner a fair and impartial trial, and that the newspaper reports had not influenced them as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner at the bar.
Three of them said that they had not read the newspaper accounts. Mr. Clark said he had not read a newspaper for three months. Mr. Luke said he seldom ever looked at a newspaper, and Mr. Flythe said he did not read the home papers; that he had some recollection of having read an article in THE STAR in some way connected with the cases, but that he did not remember what it was. Those who were rejected stated that their minds had been more or less influenced by the newspaper reports of the investigations that had been going on in the mayor's court and that these impressions could not easily be removed.
The lawyers are still keeping up the fight with the same vigor with which they started out, and when and where this and the other firebug cases will terminate is beyond conjecture.
Thos. M. Dolman, brother of Jos. F. Dolman, whose trial is now in progress in the hustings court, was arraigned before Mayor Baird this morning on the charge of housebreaking. There were a number of witnesses on hand to testify, but the mayor stated that, owing to the fact that Dolman was now serving a term in the city jail for being drunk and disorderly, he would continue the case until his sentence expires, 10 days. In the meantime should it develop that he should come to trial on the last charge the mayor will call the case and dispose of it.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 19, 1897
THE DOLMAN TRIAL
Court convened at 10:30 o'clock this morning and the examination of the jurors on their voir dire was gone into. Three out of the new panel summoned today said that they could give the prisoner a fair and impartial trial and the required number of 10 was thus made up. They are as follows: R. Frank Welton; C. N. Moody; G. Vermillion; J. C. Richardson; R. Lee Abbott; B. G. Jones; C. J. Bright; E. B. Trotman; Jos. L. Clark; John T. Drewry; W. J. Luke; J. H. Flythe; F. B. Reese; J. H. Hall; Walter Alfriend; C. F. Beale.
The counsel for the prisoner here made a motion that further proceedings in the trial be stopped and that the jury be discharged upon the grounds that it was illegally constituted; that when the prisoner was arraigned there were 15 jurors present in the venire of 16 which had been summoned, and that 9 of the jurors who had been accepted were taken from that illegal panel of 15. The court overruled the motion, and counsel for prisoner excepted to the ruling.
The prisoner, through his counsel, then struck off from the panel of 16 jurors who had been accepted, the following: G. S. Vermillion; C. T. Beale; C. W. Moody; J. S. Clark.
The witnesses in the case were called and instructed to be in court this afternoon at 4 o'clock. Court adjourned until that hour, when the trial will, if no further motions are made, really begin.
The Dolman Trial
The Dolman trial assumed more definite shape yesterday in that the case was really started before the jury.
Thomas Davis, colored, whose store was robbed on the morning of the 19th of March last, was the first witness on the stand, and his son, Richard Davis, who is janitor of the county clerk's office, was the second witness examined. The testimony of these two, as it was brought out in the mayor's court proceedings, has been published in full in these columns, therefore it is unnecessary to reproduce it.
At 6:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon court adjourned until tomorrow (Friday) at 10:30 o'clock. This was done in order that the counsel for defense, Capt. Marshall, who is commonwealth's attorney of Norfolk county, could attend the county court, which is in session today.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 21, 1897
THE DOLMAN TRIAL
Five more witnesses were examined in the Dolman case this morning, and better time was made than at any previous stage of the trial. Some of the testimony as given by these witnesses was found to be cumulative, and for that reason several of them will be dropped as unimportant.
It is more than likely that the remaining number of witnesses will be gotten through with this afternoon. All of the testimony so far given by the seven persons examined was a repetition of the testimony brought out in the mayor's court, and which has been published. About the only new evidence in this case that may be looked for will probably be given by Linn and Jobson.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 22, 1897
THE DOLMAN TRIAL
The Case Will Probably be Given to the Jury This Evening.
Linn Makes a Clean Breast of It
Mollie Linn Proves an Unimportant Witness
Dolman in Court Taunts Linn With Cowardice.
The monotonous examinations that have been going on in the hustings court for the past several days were varied somewhat yesterday by the fact that the more important witness, having been reserved until the last, brought out some very interesting evidence.
Deputy Sheriff Abbott was put upon the stand and told of the arrest of Dolman and Linn and the search of Mollie Linn's house and the discovery of the hatchet.
Officer Warren, who assisted Abbott in the arrests and search, stated how the men were arrested at Wyatt's barroom on the shell road, at Paradise Creek.
Capt. Marshall, in questioning the witness, asked him if he did not know that as an officer of the city of Portsmouth he had no right to go in Norfolk county to arrest a man without a warrant.
Warren said that he didn't know whether he had the right or not, that he was looking for the man and thought he had a right to take him wherever he could find him, whether he happened to be in the city or county, that he had tracked him from the city, and didn't bother about getting his warrant when he got into the county.
Arthur Cavanaugh was put on the stand and testified that Linn and Dolman were at the gas works on the night of Tom Davis' robbery and that they left there between 10:30 and 11 o'clock of that night.
It will be remembered that in the chase which followed the breaking in of Tom Davis' store, many articles were found strewn along the trail of the fugitives, and among such articles was found a bottle of beer.
While Cavanaugh was on the stand, Maj. Crocker, for the commonwealth, referring to Linn and Dolman, asked Cavanaugh: "Did you see them drink any beer there that night?"
Here Capt. Marshall for the defense objected to the question, as beer, as one of the articles stolen, was not mentioned in the indictment, and that no beer was kept for sale by Tom Davis, therefore the question was irrelevant.
The commonwealth, in answer, said that they proposed tracking these housebreakers by certain articles found in their possession, and that beer was one of those articles.
The court sustained the objection made by defense and the question had to be withdrawn.
Cavanaugh said that he himself had drank beer that night at the gas house, and this was as near as the commonwealth dare come to the beer question.
After Cavanaugh's testimony was given, which was not as interesting, perhaps, as it would have been had he been allowed to talk of "beer", Mollie Linn, wife of Frank Linn, was called, but, not being in court, she was sent for.
While awaiting her arrival, Frank Linn was brought up from jail and put upon the stand.
Counsel for defense objected to Linn's testifying, for the reason that he was charged with being an accomplice of Dolman's in the same criminal act of housebreaking; and here a heated argument followed between the opposing lawyers. The squabble was ended by the court's ruling that Linn was a competent witness.
Major Crocker -- Where do you live? Answer - Gas House lane, east of the gas house.
Q. Are you married? A. Yes, sir.
Q. How old are you? A. 22 years old.
Q. Are you a native of Portsmouth? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you related to the late Dr. Linn, who lived here some years ago? A. I don't know much about him, but I believe I am his nephew.
Q. Do you remember the night on which Tom Davis' store was broken open? A. I do.
Q. Was Dolman with you that night? A. He was.
Q. What were you doing at the gas house? A. We just went there to have a little time.
Q. Do you know anything of the breaking in of Tom Davis' store on the night of the 18th of March last?
Question objected to by counsel for the prisoner and objection overruled.
Q. Do you know anything about the breaking in of Tom Davis' store? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Well, tell the jury about it.
A. Well, me and Mr. Dolman went out of the gas house between 10 and 11 o'clock that night, and Mr. Dolman proposed to me to break into and rob Tom Davis' store. We walked around the block several times, and then went into the rear of Tom Davis' store, and tried the back door. We found that too strong for us and went to the side door, where we together put one shoulder to the upper panel of the door and forced it in. The upper part of the door fell with a loud noise. I went in first and Dolman followed. We took the lamp, which was burning low on the meat counter, and put it on the showcase and turned it up high. We gathered up the articles which we intended to carry off and piled them up. We got 10 cents out of the cash drawer. Dolman had a bag filled with meat and a general assortment, which we were obliged to leave behind. Dolman had my pistol. He took it when we started out, because he said that I could not use it fast enough. While we were in Davis' store I heard a woman scream, and then heard another girl call out "Shoot him, papa; shoot him:. I was in the store then and Dolman had gotten out in the lane, and to keep the man from shooting me, Dolman shot at him three times. During this time, I got out of the store, and we both ran through Davis' lane toward Stonewall street. I dropped the tobacco box and several articles, which I found too heavy to get along with. We ran over to the Fort lane gate of the United States Hospital, through the woods and out again at the Green street gate, then went home to my house, came out again, and went over Stonewall street and sat down under some trees. We there heard the searching party as they were looking for us, and we got up and went down town to Stanwood's bar and got a drink. It is needless for me to say in this connection what else took place that night, as I am only telling what happened in this case.
While we were at the gas house, Peter Cosgrove, the engineer, gave Dolman and me 50 cents and told us to go out and get 12 bottles of beer. We knew that Cosgrove's name was good at Handley's bar for what he wanted, so we went there and got a crate (24 bottles) of beer and had it charged to Cosgrove. We kept the 50 cents, and as we got near the gas house, took 12 bottles out of the crate, hid them and carried the other 12 to Cosgrove, without the crate.
When we went to Davis store that night we each had a bottle of beer in our pockets and, as I lost mine, I suppose it was the one which the searching party found.
Examined by Capt. Marshall
Question -- How old are you? Answer Twenty-two years.
Q. Are you married? A. Yes.
Q. When and where were you married? A. In Norfolk, about three years ago.
Q. On what street was it? A. I don't remember the name of the street.
Q. Was it not Avon street? A. I don't remember.
Q. Have you testified before in this case? A. Yes, sir - in the mayor's court.
Q. Did you not say there that you did not know where Dolman got the goods that he brought to your house? A. Yes, sir; I said that we had found them out in the field.
Q. When asked by Mr. Crocker in the mayor's court what your occupation was, did you not tell him that you were a gambler,and that you played anywhere, and named parties that had played with you? A. Yes, I told him that.
Q. You said that nearly all the police had played with you? A. Yes.
Q Have you ever been convicted of stealing? A. Yes, twice - and have been sent to jail.
Q. Do you make this confession of your own free will and accord? A. Yes.
Q. Were you offered any inducement to make the confession? A. Yes. I was told by the three gentlemen for the commonwealth that they would not put me on trial for my neck, nor would they seek to send me to the penitentiary for more than 15 years.
Q. Did you tell your wife where you got the goods? A. I didn't tell my wife where we got the things; I told her we bought them. We got home a little before daybreak the next morning.
Q. Do you know that you could be sent to the penitentiary for two years for stealing these 12 bottles of beer from Cosgrove? A. What, two years just for stealing 12 bottles of beer! Why you didn't send me up for that long when you prosecuted me in the county court for housebreaking.
"No," said Capt. Marshall, "but I tried hard to send you up, but you got a new trial and got off with six months in jail."
Said Linn: "I wish I had gone up then for I would now just about be coming out and wouldn't be in this scrape. But 15 years won't be long in rolling by, and I don't care much about it anyway, not even if they stretch my neck. I would be just as well have that stretched as anything else."
Q. Did anybody else offer you any inducements to confess as to this case? A. No, sir; and I wrote a confession and gave it to Jailor Sivertson before I saw the lawyers for the commonwealth. I afterwards sent for them and told them that I wanted to make a full breast of it.
Q. Were you telling the truth when you stated what you did in the mayor's court? A. I was not.
To Col. Griffin, Linn said, "My statement was voluntary, and neither of you gentlemen approached me until I sent for you by Mr. Sivertson and told you then what I have just stated as to this case. I left my house about 7:30 o'clock the night of the robbery and got back a short while before daybreak the next morning. I am telling the truth now."
After the adjournment of court yesterday, and as the two prisoners were being taken out, Dolman stepped up to Linn as if he would strike him and said: "You ain't a scared man, are you? You ain't scared of your neck, are you? You are a _____ coward."
Here Jailor Abbott locked the two young gentlemen's wrists together with handcuffs and took them off to jail.
This morning, Mollie Linn was put upon the stand and proved an unimportant witness, as she could only say that the men left her house that night, and got back the next morning.
Col. Stewart, assisting the commonwealth opened the argument with these words: "I do not deem it necessary to explain my connection with this case. Sufficient to say that I am here in the interest of the peace and dignity of the commonwealth of Virginia. I am not here for the approval of incendiaries, housebreakers, their accessories, and apologists. This trial has been one celebrated for objections, celebrated for motions and exceptions, for long delay and tiring efforts, and I congratulate you, gentlemen of the jury, that the case is now nearing its end."
Here Col. Stewart read several sections of the Code, which prescribed the minimum penalty of the crime as one day's imprisonment in jail or a fine of one cent. The maximum penalty was two to ten years imprisonment in the penitentiary, or at the discretion of the jury not to exceed 12 months in jail, or to pay a fine not to exceed $500. These penalties are for breaking into a store with intent to commit larceny.
Col. Stewart spoke for about one hour, when Judge Murdaugh followed in a speech of an hour's duration, in which he ably reviewed the case from the prisoner's side.
Capt. Marshall, also for the defense, then arose and noted exceptions to the remarks made by Col. Stewart, after which he went on with his argument and made a speech of nearly two hours duration, full of sound reasoning and vigorous statements.
Court adjourned at 3 o'clock.
Col. Griffin, for the commonwealth, will make the closing speech in the case when court reconvenes at 1 o'clock this afternoon, after which the case will go to the jury.
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 24, 1897
UP TO THIS MORNING, the JURY STOOD FIVE for ACQUITTAL
Dolman Thinks "It is Pretty Easy" --- Motion for a New Trial Overruled ---
Motion for Arrest of Judgment Continued to Last Day of Present Term.
After Col. Griffin closed his remarks before the jury on Saturday in behalf of the commonwealth, the jury retired at 5:30 o'clock, and at 7 o'clock p.m. announced that it was hardly probable that they could agree. The court reminded them that this had been a most tedious trial and that it would be a hard one to go over with. The jury was adjourned until this morning at 10:30 o'clock at which time the jurors were called and answered to their names.
The court instructed the sheriff to take the jury into the county courtroom, where they would have more room.
Mr. B. G. Jones, one of the jurymen, here asked the court the privilege of having the law bearing the case read over to them, as some of them, perhaps, did not recollect the full intent of the statute.
After hearing the statute read by the commonwealth's attorney, the jury retired to the county courtroom, and at 11:00 announced that a verdict had been reached.
After swearing in the new grand jury, which had been summoned to reindict the numerous fire and burglary cases, the Dolman jury was admitted in court, and the clerk, after commanding the prisoner to stand up, said :"Gentlemen of the jury, what say you, guilty or not guilty?"
Foreman J. H. Flythe -- "Guilty."
Here Mr. Flythe handed in the verdict of the jury, and the clerk read as follows: "We, the jury, find the prisoner, Joseph F. Dolman, guilty of housebreaking on the night of the 19th of March last and fix his punishment at two years in the penitentiary."
Counsel for the prisoner here arose and offered the following motion:
"That inasmuch as many objections and exemptions had been made by counsel for the prisoner throughout this trial, that now counsel for the prisoner asks for a new trial upon the ground that the verdict was contrary to the law and evidence."
The motion was overruled by the court and exceptions noted by counsel for defense.
Here counsel for defense moved for an arrest of judgment upon the ground that the grand jury which indicted the defendant, Jos. F. Dolman, alias Ned Dolman, was not a legal body, not having been legally constituted, drawn and summoned, also upon the further ground that the jury was improperly, illegally and improvidently constituted, impaneled and sworn; and upon the further ground that the language used by counsel assisting the commonwealth's attorney in closing the opening argument of the common- wealth, in speaking of the prisoner, "that he shuts his mouth," etc. as more fully appears upon the record, was contrary to law.
Capt. Marshall, for the prisoner, stated his points briefly and submitted the motion.
The court continued the motion until the last day of the present term.
Counsel for the prisoner stated that they would prepare the bill of exceptions and file them with the court as soon as practicable.
The language referred to above, "that he shuts his mouth," etc. was claimed by counsel for defense to have been used by Col. Stewart, in substance, as follows: "While this man (referring to Linn) makes a clean breast of it, yonder man (referring to Dolman) knowing his soul to be stained with guilt, shuts his mouth and says nothing." The statute bearing on this case is that the fact of the prisoner's failing to testify must not be used against him or referred to by counsel for the prosecution.
A reporter of THE STAR approached Dolman after the verdict and said to him: "Dolman, what do you think of the verdict?" Dolman (smiling) -- "It's pretty easy." "Are you satisfied with it?" "Oh, yes."
The new grand jury is as follows: W. G. W. Parker, foreman; John T. King; G. T. Barrett; Frank Wonnycott; W. B. Thomas; George R. Trant; Adolph Brandt and T. J. Barlow.
Mr. Wonnycott was excused on account of his being a member of the fire department.
The grand jury met today at 11:30 o'clock and will spend perhaps several days in examining witnesses, among whom the most important will be Linn and Crismond.
Unwillingness to credit the testimony of Linn is assigned as a reason why five of the jurymen were willing to acquit Dolman
PORTSMOUTH STAR MAY 31, 1897
THE EARTHQUAKE SHOCK INTERFERES SOMEWHAT with the DIGNITY of the COURT
Order finally Restored and the Examination of the Jurymen Go On --
Eleven Jurymen Secured Out of a Panel of Thirty-Two --
Court Adjourns Until Tomorrow.
The second venire was called this morning in the hustings court for the purpose of getting a jury to try Jos. F. Dolman on the second charge of housebreaking.
The panel summoned for today consisted of 32 names. In answer to questions by the judge and counsel as to whether any opinion had been formed or expressed as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner, the following answers were given:
J. N. Armentrout -- I have formed a decided opinion and have expressed myself in the case. Rejected.
R. L. Allison -- Yes, sir I have formed a decided opinion. Rejected.
Edgar N. Armentrout -- From the reading of the newspapers, I have formed the opinion that the prisoner is guilty; and that impression has not been removed. Rejected.
Frederick Allen -- I have no bias or prejudice against the prisoner at the bar. I read the papers during the investigations at the mayor's court, but have not formed any opinion as to his innocence or guilt. I can give him a fair trial. Accepted.
Mr. W. Allan -- I have already expressed my opinion regarding the case. Rejected.
F. H. Altekampe -- I have formed and expressed my opinion. Rejected.
E. Forest Bilisoly -- I have formed my opinion, but have not expressed it. The opinion I have formed is based on the newspaper reports and what I have heard. It would take new evidence, different from that which I have read, to change my mind. I generally form my opinions on the newspaper accounts of what is going on. Rejected.
Maurice A. Brandt --I have formed a positive opinion.
Walter L. Bilisoly -- I have formed no particular opinion as to this case but I am biased and prejudiced against the whole lot of depredators. I can give the prisoner a fair trial according to the law and the testimony. The newspaper reports which I have read regarding the investigations at the mayor's court made some impressions on my mind and these impressions are still with me. It would take new evidence to change my mind or to remove the impressions made upon my mind. I could render a fair judgment on the evidence which might be produced in this trial. The impressions made on my mind were general as to all the cases investigated in the mayor's court, but these impressions would readily yield to new evidence produced here. I have a prejudice against this man as to his general connection in all the cases. Accepted and his acceptance objected to by counsel for prisoner and exceptions noted.
J. E. Brittingham -- I have formed an opinion and would give him all the punishment he deserves. Rejected.
Richard P. Beaton -- I have formed no opinion and can give him a fair and impartial trial in this special case. As to the general charges against all these five boys, I have formed the opinion that they were as a general lot guilty. My mind is not as perfect a blank as to his guilt or innocence as it would be if I had never heard of him or his connection with these cases. I can give him a fair trial upon this evidence that may be produced in court. Accepted by the court and objected to by counsel for prisoner.
James R. Boswick -- The newspaper accounts have made a decided impression on my mind as to his innocence or guilt. Rejected.
Vernon Crump -- I have formed no opinion as to this man's innocence or guilt in this particular case. I have expressed my opinion freely regarding the case generally and am prejudiced somewhat against the whole lot of them. Rejected mainly on account of living in the neighborhood of the corner of North and Dinwiddie streets.
W. C. Corbett -- I can give him a fair trial; have no bias or prejudice against him and have formed no opinion as to his innocence or guilt. I did not read the reports in the newspaper regarding the investigations in the mayor's court. Accepted.
J. C. Everett -- I have received very strong impressions in these cases by reading the newspaper accounts of the investigations in the mayor's court. Have no bias or prejudice against the prisoner in this especial case. I thought there was a very strong chain of evidence against him in this case. If the newspaper reports were to be corroborated by the evidence to be produced here I would consider him guilty. Rejected.
B. F. Ferebee -- Have formed no opinion as to this case. Can give him a fair and impartial trial. The reports of the examinations in the mayor's court made some impression on my mind as to the cases in general. I would go strictly by the evidence produced in this court, notwithstanding the bias which may be in my mind against him as to the other charges which are against him. Accepted by the court and objected to by counsel for prisoner. Exceptions noted.
T. F. Cleaton -- I can give him a fair and impartial trial. I have no bias or prejudice against him. I did not keep up fully with the investigation in the mayor's court. Accepted.
W. B. Wilder -- I have no prejudice or bias against the prisoner and can give him a fair trial. The newspaper reports of the mayor's court examinations made some impression on my mind, but I would not let the newspaper reports influence me over the evidence that I might hear in court on the case. I would try him altogether on what might be brought out on the investigation here. I formed no positive opinion from reading the newspaper accounts. The impressions formed on my mind were such that they could be changed by evidence and would readily yield to evidence. I would try him only by the evidence produced in this particular case. Accepted.
H. L. Hudgins -- Ii have no bias or prejudice against him; can give him a fair and impartial trial. The examinations in the mayor's court, of which I read the reports in the newspapers, made some impressions on my mind, from which I formed an opinion. It would take evidence to remove the impressions formed in my mind. My opinion is somewhat distinct. Rejected.
F. Thomas Briggs -- I read the newspaper reports of the mayor's court proceedings, and if these newspaper reports are true, then I have formed an opinion as regards the innocence or guilt of the prisoner, but if new evidence were produced here, the impression on my mind would yield to it. Unless the newspaper reports are contradicted by evidence produced here, my opinion is already formed. I will go into the jury box and judge altogether by the evidence before the court; if that evidence was contrary to the newspaper reports, the latter would have no influence whatever over me. I could give him a fair trial. At the time of reading the reports, impressions were made on my mind which have not up to this time been removed. I have formed an opinion, but I don't know whether I have expressed it or not. Rejected.
John A. Brownley -- Have not formed any opinion as to prisoner's guilt or innocence and have no prejudice against him. Have read the newspaper accounts of the investigations in the mayor's court. Don't recollect any particular account regarding Dolman. No particular impression was made in my mind as to this case; can give him a fair trial. Accepted.
C. W. Hudgins -- I have formed an opinion based upon the newspaper reports. These impressions, however, could be removed by evidence and I could give him a fair trial. Rejected.
W. L. Grubbs -- I know nothing about this particular case and can give him a fair and impartial trial. I live within two squares of the oyster house that was broken into and fired. Rejected.
John W. Beaton, Jr. -- I live in Court street, opposite St. John's Church. (Mr. Beaton was set aside for the present.)
James R. Langhorne -- I have formed no opinion. Can give him a fair and impartial trial upon the evidence produced before me in open court. I have heard people discuss the question as to whether the parties were guilty or innocent, and have read the newspapers to some extent. From what I read, some impressions were made upon my mind, and if those reports were true, I would believe him guilty. I would try him altogether upon the evidence brought out in court. The impression formed in my mind by reading the newspaper reports was that the person was guilty. Rejected.
Here (about 10 minutes to 2 o'clock) a commotion was made by several persons stating that they had just felt a decided earthquake shock, and a general hubbub followed which bid fair to grow very exciting. Order was finally restored by the court.
The following jurymen have been accepted: N. F. Richardson; H. C. Walker; Joseph C. Anderson; Frederick Allan; Walter Bilisoly; W. C. Corbett; B. F. Ferebee; T. L. Cleaton; W. B. Wilder; John A. Beardsley; R. P. Beaton.
Court adjourned until tomorrow at 11 o'clock.
PORTSMOUTH STAR JUNE 1, 1897
MEN WHO DON'T READ NEWSPAPERS READILY ACCEPTED AS JURORS
Mr. Joseph T. Parker Thinks Reporters Are Reliable --
Counsel for Defense Move for a Change of Venue --
Over-ruled -- Taking of Testimony Begun
At 11 o'clock this morning, the Dolman trial preliminaries were again resumed by the examination of the new venire summoned to appear this morning. The following answered to their names: James R. Knight; John Sands; Lewis Benston; W. Frank Brewer; E. V. White; R. J. Saunders; John C. Summers, Jr.; D. L. Sadler; Dennis Sullivan; Earnest Renn; L. M. Palmer; Jno. Parkerson; A. V. Pearce; L. J. Plummer; C. T. Peed; J. E. Parker; George W. Maupin; R. D. Cutherell, Jr.; Jos. T. Parker; W. B. Taylor; John H. Morecock; Charles A. Rond, Jr.; John R. Dickson; Vernon S. Pruden; C. E. Culpepper; James Moore; I. V. Shea; Robert L. Martin.
The examination began with Mr. J. R. Knight: "I have formed and expressed a decided opinion."
"Stand aside, Mr. Knight," said the court.
Mr. Lewis Benston -- I was down in Carolina for three weeks and got the papers and formed my opinion, based upon the reports published in the papers.
Mr. W. Frank Brewer -- I have read the newspapers and formed and expressed an opinion as to the innocence or guilt of the prisoner in this case. Rejected.
Capt. E. V. White -- Yes, sir, I have formed and expressed an opinion regarding this case. Rejected.
Mr. R. J. Saunders -- Have formed a decided opinion as to this case. Rejected.
Mr. J. C. Summers, Jr. -- Upon the evidence produced in the mayor's court, I have formed a decided opinion in regard to this case and all the others. Rejected.
Mr. D. L. Sadler -- I have read the newspaper accounts of these investigations and have formed an opinion. It would take pretty good evidence to remove the impressions formed upon my mind. Rejected.
Mr. Earnest Renn -- Based upon newspaper reports and what I have heard outside, I have formed a decided opinion as to this case. Rejected.
Mr. L. M. Palmer -- "Yes, sir, I have," said Mr. Palmer, in answer to the question of the court as to whether or not he had formed or expressed an opinion. "I would be governed by what I heard in this testimony given here in court and not by what I have read in the newspapers. I could give him a fair and impartial trial upon the testimony given here. It would be impossible to have the impressions entirely removed from my mind. My opinion is fixed up to this time. If testimony were brought in here strong enough and different from what I have read, I would change my mind." Rejected.
John C. Parkerson -- I have formed a decided opinion.
A. V. Pearce -- As far as I have heard of the case through the newspapers, I have formed a decided opinion.
L. J. Plummer -- I have formed nor expressed no opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner. I have no bias against him. I don't know him. I read THE STAR every night, I read the newspapers only through idle curiosity, and the reports never make any impression on me. I have my opinion of newspaper reporters. I can give the prisoner a fair and impartial trial. Accepted and objected to by counsel for defense.
C. T. Peed -- I have formed a decided opinion on the subject. Rejected.
J. E. Parker --I have formed no opinion regarding the prisoner and can give him a fair and impartial trial upon the evidence produced here in court. I read the newspapers reports regarding the investigation, but have formed no opinions from reading such reports. When I go into the jury box, I judge only from the evidence produced before me and not what I may have heard outside. Accepted.
Geo. W. Maupin -- I have formed a decided opinion, based upon what I have read and heard, and upon the general bad character of the men. Rejected.
R. D. Cutherell, Jr. -- I was present at the mayor's court proceedings, and have formed a decided opinion based on the evidence produced there. Rejected.
Joseph T. Parker -- I have expressed an opinion based upon newspaper reports, but it was not a decided opinion. I don't consider newspaper reports reliable. I have had considerable transactions with the newspaper reporters and what they say is not worth much. I have known them to report transactions that were in no manner of way correct. What I read or what I hear doesn't influence me at all. I can try the man fairly. What he has done in other cases would have no influence upon me. I can give him just as fair a trial as if I had never heard of him before. Accepted.
John C. Morecock -- I have formed no opinion as to this case and can give the prisoner a fair and impartial trial. I have read the newspaper reports of the mayor's court proceedings and of the confessions of Linn and Crismond. I have formed a partial impression regarding the other cases. I have no bias whatever against the prisoner in this case. I have not given the oyster house fire much consideration, but his connection with that might make some impression upon my mind. I could give the prisoner the benefit of every reasonable doubt and would be governed by the evidence produced here. Accepted.
Charles A. Rond -- I have formed my opinion in this case, based upon newspaper reports. I have the impression that he is guilty. Rejected.
John R. Dickson -- I live in Park View. Have formed no opinion as to his guilt or innocence. Can give him a fair trial. I have been living in Portsmouth since the war; am 61 years old next March. Never read the newspaper accounts of the mayor's court proceedings. I never read newspapers. Accepted.
This completes the list of 10 jurors, as follows: H. C. Walker; N. F. Richardson; Joseph E. Anderson; Frank Allan; Walter L. Bilisoly; R. P. Beaton; W. C. Corbett; T. L. Cleaton; B. F. Ferebee; W. B. Wilder; John Brownley; L. J. Plummer; J. E. Parker; Joseph T. Parker; John H. Morecock and John R. Dickson.
(See names below of the four struck off)
Counsel for the commonwealth here called the court's attention to two motions previously made by counsel for the prisoner, viz: For a change of venue and for the procuring of a jury outside of the city to try these cases.
The court stated that both motions have been overruled.
These motions were made on Friday last and the court took them under advisement and declined to rule upon them at that time.
The jury was sent out temporarily and the counsel for the prisoner stated that, without waiving exceptions to the court's refusal to entertain the motion for the summoning of a jury outside of the city of Portsmouth, they now excepted to the ruling of the court as to the suggestion of the counsel for the commonwealth, the counsel for the commonwealth having suggested that this was the proper time for the court to rule.
As to the motion of change of venue, without waiving exceptions as made Friday last as to the court's refusal to rule on the motion for change of venue, the counsel for the prisoner now renews that motion and offers as evidence in support thereof the testimony as brought out in the examinations of 64 veniremen, from whom a panel of 10 has been accepted by the court and to whichever of the said panel objections were made by counsel for the prisoner, which objections were overruled by the court.
Here counsel for defense made a lengthy argument in support of his motion and asked that the court grant them a change of venue.
The court overruled this motion.
The four jurors struck off the list of 16 are as follows: J. C. Walker; Walter L. Bilisoly; N. F. Richardson and L. J. Plummer.
The jury was then called by the clerk and the prisoner, Joseph F. Dolman, was formally arraigned before the court upon the charge of breaking into the oyster house of Arthur Jones on the night of March 10 last. The prisoner plead "not guilty".
The following witnesses for the commonwealth were called and sworn: Arthur Jones; Ananias Clarke; John Scofield; James Sparks; and Israel Woodward, colored; M. R. Cashin; J. Abbott; Mollie Linn; Wm. Warren; Frank Morris; Joseph Robinson; Conrad Horst and Arthur Cavanaugh.
Arthur Jones, the owner of the oyster house business, was the first witness put upon the stand and reiterated his former statements as made in the mayor's court and identified his hatchet and salt cellars, which had been found in Mollie LInn's house, where Linn and Dolman went the morning after the fire. He also identified the sail belonging to Ananias Clarke, which was stolen from the oyster house on the night of the fire.
[Here Linn was escorted into court by Officer Warren and created a gentle stir. Linn will testify against Dolman in this case.]
Col. Stewart -- Did you see Linn and Dolman together after the house had been broken open?
Answer -- I saw them the next day; they were coming in a boat from the direction of Norfolk. They came through the hospital bridge in Guthrie's creek; they landed at Guthrie's wharf. I was between Mr. John Downing's house and the hospital gate on Greene street when I saw them land. They went up the gas house lane after getting out of the boat.
Capt. Marshall -- What time did you close up the shop that night? A. At 9 o'clock, exactly.
Q. How do you know that it was exactly 9 o'clock? A. Who, me? `Cause when dat Franklin fires her gun it's gen'ly 9 o'clock; dat's how I know.
Here Jones described the house and the door which was broken open. His description was not understood, when he called for pencil and paper and made a diagram of his house altogether in keeping with the sign which hangs in front of his shop. Five of the shrewdest lawyers in the State of Virginia bent over Jones' shoulder as he was making his diagram, and not one of them could firmly grasp the situation of "de wes' doah, which opened `wards Co'te street."
Jones generally repeats the questions asked him and shows his 32 ivories and the whites of his eyes as he seems to roll the question up before answering it, his favorite expression before answering the question being "who, me?" Jones was on the stand for more than an hour and his testimony was in substance the same as given in the mayor's court.
At the conclusion of Jones' testimony court adjourned to 4 o'clock.
PORTSMOUTH STAR JUNE 2, 1897
FRANK LINN ON THE STAND.
Makes a Clean Breast of the Frank Jones Oyster House Robbery
His Main Motive in the Robbery was Hunger - Wanted Some Oysters
Linn's Previous Record brought Out --
Case will Probably Go to the Jury This Evening.
At 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon the Dolman trial was resumed, beginning with Ananias Clark, the owner of the sail that was stolen from Jones' oyster house, on the witness stand.
Clark's testimony was not different, to any great extent, from that given by him in the mayor's court. He identified the sail, and said that he had found it in Cashin's junk store in Norfolk.
John Scofield, one of Jones' helpers, identified the hatchet.
James Sparks -- I don't know anything about Jones' property, except his hatchet; I know that. Sparks identified the hatchet.
Israel Woodward recognized the hatchet, but didn't know much about anything else.
Joseph Abbott, deputy sergeant of the city, told how Arthur Jones had asked him for a warrant to search Linn's house, as he (Jones) suspected Linn and Dolman of having robbed him; how he had found the hatchet in Linn's house on the 10th day of April last; how he had found Clark's sail and jib at Cashin's junk store in Norfolk; how he and Officer Warren had arrested Linn and Dolman on the Deep Creek road.
M. T. Cashin, the manager of the junk store, said he recognized Dolman as one of the men who had brought the sail to him, for which he (Cashin)had paid $2.
Here Linn was brought in (though objected to by counsel for defense) and Mr. Cashin identified him as the companion to Dolman when these two had brought the sail and sold it to him, on or about the 20th of March last. He identified the sail, and identified Clark as the man who had come to his store and claimed the sail.
Mollie Linn (wife of Frank Linn) --
My husband and Dolman left my house about 7 o'clock on the night of the oyster house fire and came back again early in the morning. Dolman was staying at my house for awhile before he got into this trouble; he slept on a cot down stairs. Didn't know who brought the things to her house, but thought that either Dolman or Linn brought them. Was married to Linn in a house on Avon street in Norfolk three years ago, by the Rev. Mr. Webb. Linn said that he was 21 years old when we were married. I work at the Naval Hospital as laundress; go to work at 8 a.m. and knock off at p.m. I asked my husband when he came home (the morning of the fire) what time they got in. He said: "We got in soon this morning."
Court adjourned at 20 minutes to 7 p.m.
After the jury had been called and answered to their names this morning, the first witness called was:
Arthur Kavanaugh -- Know Frank Linn when I see him; am not acquainted with him. Linn and Dolman were at the gas house the night of the fire; they left there between 10 and 11 o/clock that night. Did not see them any more after that.
Frank Morris -- I was in Stanwood's on Crawford street, about 2 o'clock a.m., when the oyster house fire broke out. I went down Crawford street and stopped under King's awning. While there two men came by. It was raining that night and was quite dark under the awning. I spoke to one of the men, but got no answer from him. I think it was Dolman, but can't swear to it. Stanwood's place is on Crawford street, three doors north of County street. I don't know who the other man with Dolman was. Mr. Joseph Robinson was with me when the men passed. I took the man to be Dolman and called him Ned when I spoke to him.
Joseph Robinson -- Am a son of Chief Engineer Robinson. Was with Mr. Morris at Stanwood's when the fire bell struck. It was 2 o'clock a.m. Met two men under the awning of King's store. Morris spoke to one of them. I did not recognize either one of them. When Morris spoke to them, one of them answered "how d'ye do."
To Mr. Crocker -- Live in Gas House lane. My wife is Mollie Linn. Know the prisoner (Dolman). He was with me the night of the fire. We left my house together about dark and went to the gas house, where we staid until about 10:30 o'clock. We had some beer there; got it from Hundley's bar. After leaving the gas house we walked around awhile; then went to Mr. Davis' store; then through the hospital woods to Green street; then back to my house; then out again and over the Swimming Point bridge to the oyster house. Dolman was with me. We went into the oyster house through the front window. Don't know the name of the street in which the oyster house is located; the oyster hose sets on the corner. I went in first and Mr. Dolman came in behind me.
The first thing we did after getting in was to have a set out of oysters, which we ate out of plates. We then took the sail, the hatchet, some salt cellars and a pair of scissors. We took the small things home and buried them -- afterwards took them up and carried them into my house. We came out of the back door of the oyster house. We carried the sail in our arms over the bridge and back of Mr. Neimeyer's to the Gas House lane. We left the sail in the field; then came back and got it and put it into an empty house belonging to Mrs. Guthrie, on Gas House lane.
We carried the sail to Norfolk on Tuesday in a rowboat and sold it to Mr. Cashin at his junk store for $2. Dolman and I carried the sail over to Cashin's store in my boat. Mr. Cashin asked us some questions and offered us $1 for the sail, which we refused. He then gave us $2 for it. It was about 9 o'clock a.m. We then came back in the boat and landed in Guthrie's creek. I spent the money for drinks.
We went to Stanwood's bar, on Crawford street, the night we broke into the oyster house, after we had carried the things we took out of the oyster house over into the field. Went down Crawford street to Stanwood's bar and got a drink. We met Frank Morris and another man about three doors north of Stanwood's barroom. Morris said: "How d'yedo, Ned" (speaking to Dolman) don't remember that Dolman replied to him. We got home just before daybreak, Dolman and I. We were together all night.
Mr. Dolman, Mr. Eastwood and I went over to Norfolk on Saturday (following the oyster house robbery) to see about selling the sail. We went over in my boat. We did not have the sail with us then and did not try to sell the sail, because Mr. Eastwood was with us. We didn't want him to know anything about it. We went over again on Monday (Dolman and I) and tried to sell the sail. We did not have it with us. The man told us we would have to bring the sail before he could tell us what he would pay for it. We carried it over on the next Tuesday and sold it.
To Mr. Marshall -- Here Mr. Marshall read Linn's testimony out of a newspaper as given in the mayor's court, and Linn said that his answers as printed were correct to all the questions, but that what he testified to in the mayor's court was false.
Question -- Have you been offered any inducement to testify here?
Answer -- Yes, by these three gentlemen; they told me they wouldn't prosecute me for over 15 years and wouldn't break my neck. I made the confession first to Mr. Sivertson; then I sent for the commonwealth's attorney and his associates and confessed to them.
Q. Did you ever know Mr. Sivertson before? A. Yes, I visited him once before for a period of about nine months.
Q. What were you there for? A. You ought to know; you sent me there.
Q. Were you there during any other time? A. No, sir, only to call on Mr. Sivertson now and then for old acquaintance sake.
Q. Have you ever been in the city jail? A. Yes; for 60 days for stealing. I confessed to Mr. Sivertson because I knew I was guilty; he offered me no inducements. I confessed to him several days after the mayor's court proceedings. When I confessed to Sivertson I didn't know that I would be put on the stand as a witness against anybody else.
Q. When were you married to Mollie Linn? A. I don't know; about two years and a half ago. I will be 23 next January. I was not 21 when I was married. I told the clerk of the court when I got my license to marry that I was 24 years old. I don't know what street we were married on; it was not on Avon street. I don't know the names of but few of the streets in Portsmouth, though I was born and raised here. I know where Monumental Church is, but I don't know the name of the street it is on. My wife pays the rent of the house.
Q. What do you do for a living? Anything; this business -- taking other people's property, etc. [Here Linn related how he and Dolman got the crate of beer from Hundley's on Cosgrove's credit, and made about the same statement he made before. Here Mr. Marshall told him that he expected to contradict his statement about getting beer that night from Hundley's on Cosgrove's credit.] We went into my house after coming from Davis'; went in easy, without waking my wife, and put the things we got from Davis' store away. We only broke into the oyster house because we were hungry and wanted some oysters to eat. Don't remember whether there was a light in the oyster house or not, but think there was one. We may have lighted the lamp. We each ate two or three plates of oysters at the table. While we were there we saw the sail and other things, and seized on to them and carried them back of Bain's stable. I generally cook my own food at home. I was confined in the city jail, I believe, year before last. I was sent to the county jail for housebreaking -- breaking into my sister's (Alice White's) house and stealing jewelry. I was sentenced for six months, but served abut nine months, having been in jail some time before I was tried.
Mr. W. H. Barnes, deputy clerk of Norfolk county, was next called.
Capt. Marshall -- Will you refer to your records and read what charges there are against Frank Linn?
Mr. Barnes read the record, dated September 19, 1894, which showed that Frank Linn and Harry Winindger were sentenced to six months' imprisonment for breaking into the dwelling house of Harry E. White, in Norfolk county, for the purpose of committing larceny.
Linn was first tried on the 19th of July, 1894, and convicted of the above crime. The jury found him guilty and fixed his punishment at two years in the penitentiary. The verdict was afterwards set aside and the prisoner granted a new trial, when he was given six months in jail, as above stated. He plead guilty to both of the charges referred to. Linn and his brother, who is two years younger than he, and Harry Winindger, in 1894, were very young boys, and it seems for that reason only they were granted a new trial, upon which they were found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail.
After Mr. Barnes' testimony was given, the counsel on both sides held consultations, and Col. Griffin, commonwealth's attorney, began his argument before the jury about 1:30 o'clock.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Col. Griffin read the law applying to the case, which was the same as that of the preceding case.
Court here adjourned until 4 o'clock, when Judge Murdaugh will begin argument for the defense.
Court reconvened yesterday afternoon at 4 o'clock. and a quarter of an hour later Judge Murdaugh, for the defense, began his argument. He spoke for an hour and a half.
Judge Murdaugh was followed by Capt. Marshall, also for the defense, who spoke until 7 o'clock, when court adjourned.
At the opening of the morning session a set of instructions prepared by the commonwealth were submitted to the court.
The jury was excluded while these instructions were being argued before the court.
This took up about an hour and a quarter's time, when the court granted the instructions, which ruling was objected to by counsel for defense.
The jury was called in at 12:15 o'clock and Capt. Marshall continued his argument, and read to the jury the instructions and argued them as he proceeded in the reading.
The court instructed the jury as follows:
First -- That if they believe from the evidence that the prisoner (Joseph F. Dolman) and the witness (Frank Linn) were accomplices in the offense charged in the indictment, and that they were both present at the same time aiding in or consenting to what was done in the commission of said offense, then they are both equally responsible for said offense, and it is immaterial which of them did the particular acts involved in the commission of said offense.
Second -- That the indictment does not charge the prisoner with breaking and entering the house therein mentioned with the intent to com mitt any particular larceny. But if the jury find from the evidence that the prisoner broke and entered the house mentioned in the indictment, as charged therein, with intent to commit larceny, and that he did commit larceny of any of the things mentioned in the indictment, then said larceny is to be taken as sufficient proof of his intent to commit larceny with which he broke and entered said house.
Third -- That if they believe from the evidence that the prisoner (Jos. F. Dolman) and the witness (Frank Linn) were accomplices in the offenses charged in the indictment against the prisoner, and that they broke and entered the house mentioned in the indictment, as charged therein, with intent to commit larceny, and that any of the goods mentioned in the indictment were then and there stolen there from, and that recently after the same were stolen, they were found in the joint and exclusive possession of the prisoner and the said Frank Linn, then such possession of such recently stolen goods is prima facie evidence of the guilt of the larceny thereof and throws upon the prisoner the burden of accounting for that possession.
Fourth -- That it is a general rule of the common law with regard to evidence in cases of larceny that the possession of goods recently stolen is prima facie evidence of guilt and throws upon the accused the burden of accounting for that possession. This rule, it is true, has never been held by the court of appeals of Virginia to apply with the same effect in cases of housebreaking, and the decided weight of authority is that it does not.
Still, where goods have been obtained by means of a housebreaking the fact of such possession is a circumstance to be considered by the jury, and where, in addition to such possession, other inculpatory circumstances are proved, such for example as the refusal of the accused to give any account of his giving a false account of how he came by the goods, such proof will warrant a conviction.
Fifth -- That the offense of which the witness (Frank Linn) was convicted in the court of Norfolk county, the record of which was given in evidence, does not disqualify him from being a competent witness, if he has been punished therefore.
Sixth -- That if the jury believes from the evidence that the witness (Frank Linn) swore falsely as to material matters before the mayor of the city of Portsmouth, while giving testimony in his own case and in the case of the prisoner, when before the mayor, yet this does not disqualify him from being a competent witness.
Seventh -- That though the jury believes from the evidence that the witness (Frank Linn) was an accomplice with the prisoner in the commission of the offense charged in the indictment against the prisoner, yet this does not render him an incompetent witness. He is a competent witness, but the credit to be given to him is entirely a matter with the jury under all the facts and circumstances of the case.
Eighth -- That it is the law of this State that one accused of crime may be found guilty upon the testimony alone of an accomplice, the jury being the sole judges of the credit to be given to him under all the facts and circumstances of the particular case.
Capt. Marshall spoke until 1:40 o'clock, when Col. Stewart for the commonwealth began his argument, which was to close up the case for the jury. He spoke until 2:40 o'clock, when court took a recess. Col. Stewart will resume his argument at 4 o'clock this afternoon and at its close the case will be given to the jury.
After recess, Colonel Stewart resumed his argument and at its close, the case was given to the jury.
The jury was out probably half an hour and returned to the courtroom and rendered a verdict of conviction and assessed the punishment of the prisoner at two years in the penitentiary.
Exceptions were filed by counsel for the defense and the court adjourned.
This fixes Dolman for four years for robbery. He is now to be tried for arson.
[NEWSPAPER NOT NAMED -- June 2-3, 1897]
LINN ON THE STAND
The Dolman trial in the Court of Hustings Yesterday.
The prosecution closed their side of the Dolman trial yesterday, when Frank Linn, the accomplice of the prisoner, was put on the stand to tell about the robbery.
Linn said that after robbing Tom Davis, he and Dolman went through Fort Woods to Green street, where they entered the Gas House lane and put the things stolen from Davis' in witness' house; then they started down town, going over Swimming Point bridge to the oyster-house; they were hungry and entered the oyster-house by the front window; witness went in first and was followed by the prisoner; they sat down to a table and helped themselves to oysters which they found opened in a bucket; they did not expect to find anything in the place except something to eat. After eating several plates of oysters they saw the sail and threw it out of a back door; they then took the salt cellars, hatchet and other things to witness' home, hiding them; did not know whether his wife saw them or not, the sail being left out in the field. Witness identified the sail and other things produced in court as the ones stolen by them. On the night of robbery or early next morning, carried the sail to a vacant house back of Mrs. Guthrie's property, where it remained until Tuesday, when they carried it to Norfolk in a row boat and sold it to Mr. Cashin on Roanoke dock for $2. Witness spent the money for drink. After carrying things home from the oyster-house they went back to oyster-house and then down town to Stanwood's bar on Crawford street; on returning met Frank Morris and another man, one of whom spoke to Dolman; this was about 3 o'clock in the morning. It was about 5 o'clock when they reached home.
Cross examined by Capt. Marshall, he said that he had testified in this case before in the Mayor's Court, when he said that he and Dolman found the stolen goods in a field in the rear of his house. He did not tell the truth then. He had been offered inducements: the attorneys for the Commonwealth had promised not to prosecute for more than fifteen years and not to break his neck. He was guilty, and had intended to plead guilty anyway. Had first made statement to Siverson, who had not promised him anything; had known Siverson before, had visited him a time or two at the jail; was there nine months at one time; did not remember what for, but thought Captain Marshall would know as he had sent him there. Had been in the city jail also for sixty days on a charge of stealing; was married about two and a half years ago; told his wife that he was twenty-two years old, and the clerk of the court in Norfolk that he was twenty-four; he would be twenty-three years old next January; was married at the house of Mollie Taylor; did not know what street it was on; it was not Avon street. Asked what he did for a living, said "this business" meaning stealing. Was also in city jail year before last with his brother and another fellow. Did not know what perjury was; thought false swearing was something that he ought not to do.
Mr. W. H. Barnes, deputy clerk of Norfolk county, was next called.
Mr. Barnes read the record, dated September 19, 1894, which showed that Linn was sentenced to six months imprisonment in jail and fined one cent for breaking into the dwelling house of Henry E. White, in Norfolk county, for the purpose of committing larceny.
After Mr. Barnes' testimony was given, the counsel on both sides held consultations, and Colonel Griffin, Commonwealth's Attorney, began his argument before the jury about 1:20 o'clock and spoke for an hour.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Colonel Griffin read the law applying to the case, which was the same as that of the preceding case.
Court here adjourned until 4 o'clock, when Judge Murdaugh made a defense of Dolman.
Captain R. C. Marshall, for the defense, followed Judge Murdaugh, and after speaking perhaps an hour, the court adjourned until 10:30 o'clock this morning, when he will finish.
Colonel William H. Stewart will then speak and close the argument for the Commonwealth.
[UNNAMED NEWSPAPER - NO DATE, BUT BEFORE JUNE 16, 1897]
THE JOBSON TRIAL
HIS PAL CRISMOND MAKES A CLEAN BREAST OF THEIR JOINT VILLAINY
Counsel for the defense Still Objecting to Any and Everything in Sight -
Crismond Gives in detail What Was Done on the Night of March 27.
For the trial of Ellis B. Jobson for burning Whitehurst's Hall on the 27th of March last, court opened this morning at 11 o'clock.
Thirty Nansemond county jurymen had been selected, and their names are as follows:
Henry R. Culley, James W. Turnley; James W. Johnson; N. J. Olliver; R. G. Almond; P. L. Pruden, J. Calvin Nelms, Jr.; Geo. F. Batten; J. H. Brinkley; F. A. Bennett; J. O. Savage; B. L. Saunders; H. E. Elam; Joseph Bowen; N. G. Norfleet; H. M. Urquhart; S. A. Baker; G. T. Smith; W. H. Howell; R. H. Brinkley; E. W. Graham; W. H. Rudd; G. R. Chappell; S. S. Hosier; William C. Harrell; J. C. Freeney; J. W. Powell; J. T. DeBerry; Zebedee Kelley.
Most of these gentlemen are from the town of Suffolk.
Mr. Parker, counsel for prisoner, here craved over of the venire facias, and after examining, it moved to quash the venire facias issued on the 9th of June upon the grounds that the issuance of the venire facias must precede the first day of the regular term of the court, and furthermore that this venire facias shows no evidence on its face that it was issued by the court or from a list furnished by the judge.
The court overruled the motion and exceptions were noted by defense.
Here the clerk read the indictment to the jurymen.
The first juror called was Mr. H. R. Culley, who, in answer to the court's questions as to whether he could give the prisoner a fair and impartial trial, free of prejudice and bias, said he could do so, and, in answer to Mr. Parker's cross-questioning, still said he could give the prisoner a fair trial.
Mr. Culley was accepted by the court as a competent juror.
The following were also accepted; James W. Turnley; James W. Johnson; N. J. Olliver; Robt. G. Almond; P. L. Pruden; J. Calvin Nelms; Geo. F. Batten; J. O. Savage; J. C. Freeney; Joseph Brown; S. A. Baker; G. T. Smith; W. H. Howell; P. H. Brinkley; E. W. Graham.
Mr. Henry M. Urquhart, the twelfth juror examined, was in doubt whether he could give the prisoner a fair trial, as he had formed an opinion, and therefore was not accepted. Mr. Urquhart was the only one out of the 17 examined who did not pass satisfactorily.
The four names struck on the above list of sixteen are as follows: J. W. Johnson; J. C. Freeney; S. A. Baker; E. W. Graham.
The examinations of these 17 took up about forty minutes of the time of the court.
The prisoner was then formally arraigned and plead not guilty.
Counsel for the prisoner then excepted to the charges as made under the sections read by the clerk.
The court overruled the motion.
Mr. Parker then asked the court to charge the jury under the section under which he is to be tried.
The commonwealth here stated that the prisoner would be tried under section 3699 of the code.
The court instructed the clerk to so charge the jury that under this section (3699) the prisoner would be charged. The penalty under this section is punishment, in case of guilt, of not less than three years nor more than ten years in the penitentiary.
Counsel for the accused stated that the clerk in reading to the accused as he is charged in chapter 181 in sections 3795, 3696, 3697, 3698, 3699, inclusive, was erroneous, because it failed to acquaint the accused with the violation of that specific section under which he has to be tried.
Without refusing to pass upon the motion the court stated to counsel that he would re-read the sections mentioned and say to the prisoner that he is charged under section 3699.
Here the court stated that all of the jurors summoned here who had not been impaneled on this jury were discharged for this term of the court.
Counsel for the prisoner asked that all witnesses in the case except the one on the stand be excluded from the courtroom. This was done.
The first witness put upon the stand was JOHN E. CRISMOND.
Mr. Crocker -- What is your name? Answer - J. E. Crismond.
Q. Where were you born? A. Portsmouth.
Q. What is your age? A. Thirty-five, 28th of March next.
Q. Have you been a resident here all the time? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know of Whitehurst Hall? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Where is it located? A. On Glasgow street, between Washington and Green. I have never been there more than twice in my life.
Q. Do you know that this hall was burned. A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know bout what time it was burned? A. Don't remember the date.
Q. Do you know the prisoner? A. Yes, sir; Ellis B. Jobson.
[Here Mr. Crocker read the indictment to Crismond.]
Q. Do you know anything about the charges in the indictment? A. Yes, sir.
Q. State whether or not you were with Jobson on the night of the 27th of March last.
[Objected to by defense. Withdrawn by Mr. Crocker]
Q. Were you or were you not with Jobson at any time on the 27th of March, 1897, last, during the night time? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Where, in the early part of the night? A. At Lookins.
Q. What is the business of Lookins? A. Whiskey business.
Q. With whom did you go to Lookins' that night? A. Charles Cook and Overton. Jobson wasn't with us then; went out and came back later and met Jobson there (Lookins'); left Lookins' when he closed up. Jobson left with me; think Cook also left with us.
Q. At what hour did you leave? A. Don't know the hour; about Lookins' closing time.
Q. What way did you go? A.Went north on Green street.
Q. Where did you stop? At Pearson's.
Q. Who was with you then? A. Jobson. I think Cook left us at his house. Kept on then to Clifford street, thence to Bart street, into "Fate" Pearson's store, corner green and Bart streets.
Q. What does he keep? A. Whiskey. We went in there -- me and Jobson; went back into the bar. "Fate" Pearson and Officer Hutchins were behind the bar. I asked "Fate" wouldn't he treat; he said no. "Fate" said to Hutchins, "You can give them a drink if you want to," Hutchins then gave us a drink. Jobson asked Pearson for a cigarette; he gave them to us. We didn't ask for any matches. Hutchins threw us some; we put them in to our pockets. After Pearson had treated us to whiskey and Hutchins had given us the matches we left and went down Green street to South; stopped in Creecy's store door and talked. When we left Pearson's store, we started to go home. After leaving Creecy's store we went towards Washington street, on South; stopped at Jobson's gate, when Jobson said to me,
Let's Set Whitehurst's Hall on Fire."
[The counsel for defense objected to this testimony upon the ground that it was to prove conspiracy, when there was no conspiracy charged in the indictment. Over-ruled by the court and exceptions noted by defense.]
Jobson's house is on the north side of South street, between Washington and Green; house "sets" back from the street, fence runs across the front of lot. We stopped near his gate; didn't go in the yard. While we were talking, a man passed by. I thought I knew him. Jobson said, "Let's set fire to Whitehurst Hall," that's what he said to me.
We left there and went down to Washington street; thence north, I think, to County street -- don't know the exact street; think we turned down County street and went to Effingham street; then turned up and went north until we got to High street; turned down High street, going west. A car stood on the corner of High and Chestnut. We went there. I leaned up against the car and Jobson went into the car box, where they grease the axles, and got some waste; took a piece of paper off the ground and wrapped up the waste.
We then went down High street to Effingham; went up Effingham to London; turned into London street and went east to Washington street. At the corner of London and Washington streets we turned up Washington and continued north up to Glasgow street; turned down Glasgow street, going north towards Whitehurst's Hall. Went up to the front door of the hall; tried to get in; found it locked. Went into the next yard, on the west side, and jumped over the back fence into the hall yard; met no obstacle in going into the lane next to the hall. Got over the fence in the back yard; came around on the east side of the hall to a door. I got hold of the door and opened it; it was not locked. Me and Jobson went in together. We both went in to the closet together and put the waste under the stairway, under the first tread, and set it on fire. I don't know which one of us set it afire; can't remember to save my life. We then came out and pulled the door too. Went down the lane jumped over the fence into Glasgow street -- both of us together.
Went down Glasgow street, going east to Dinwiddie; turned down Dinwiddie street, going south to either London or Queen street, (I am not certain which), thence east to Court street; turned down Court and went south to the Ocean House corner. Stopped there awhile and watched the hall burning. Stood there awhile. Jobson said to me, "Let's get a drink; I can get two drinks." I said,":Where?" He said "In the Ocean House." Me and him went into the front door of the Ocean House, and Mr. Walter Nee, who was in the bar, gave us drinks. We came out the same way and went east down High street towards the ferry wharf.
Across Middle street we met Officer Calvert near Naw's bakeshop. I said, "Hello, captain." I remarked to him that we were going to Norfolk; kept on down High street till we got to the St. Elmo corner; turned the corner on Water street, going north; turned into a lane near Sawyer's, between there and Queen street, went into another lane and up to a building.
[Here the commonwealth cautioned the witness not to say what was then done, viz: firing Fiske's printery.]
After we left there went back to Water street the same way we came in. Went north on Water street and turned up either Queen or London, up to Crawford street -- I think it was London street. Went North on Crawford street to Glasgow, and there saw the fire burning. We went towards the fire. We met officer Calvert again, on the corner of Glasgow and Middle streets, I think. I spoke to him there. We kept up Glasgow street to the fire. When we got there it was considerably burned.
Went to Hundley's bar and asked Hundley could I do him any good. He said: "Yes, go up on the porch," where I went, and threw water that was passed up to me by a darkey. I worked at Hundley's until it was all right; and left. I don't know what time it was.
Maj. Crocker -- Now, Mr. Crismond, when you make this statement you understand that it inculpates yourself? Answer -- Yes, sir.
Here court took a recess until 4 o'clock this afternoon.
JOBSON CONVICTED JUNE 1897
HE PLEADS GUILTY OF FIRING WHITEHURST HALL.
His Punishment Fixed at Ten Years in Penitentiary
He is to be Arraigned Again on Tuesday.
The following witnesses were put on the stand yesterday morning, but did not produce any evidence further than has been already published, and which mainly corroborated the evidence of Crismond: E. B. Lookins, L. F. Pearson, Policeman J. S. Long, Walter W. Nee, Policeman William Warren, Policeman L. C. Calvert and W. F. Whitehurst.
At half past 1 o'clock, the Commonwealth stated it would rest its case here, where-upon a short recess was allowed, when counsel for defence requested the court to have summoned the following witnesses; G. S. Hutchins, Emeline Read, J. W. H. Porter and James Broughton.
Court then adjourned until 3:30 in the afternoon.
On the reassembling of the court, three more witnesses were examined viz: G. S. Hutchins, Emeline Reed and John W. H. Porter. This closed the testimony, and when the examination was over the counsel for the prisoner went into consultation with the counsel for the Commonwealth, at the expiration of which time counsel for the prisoner stated to the Court that he had agreed to withdraw the plead of not guilty for Jobson and enter a plea of guilty.
Instructions were submitted to the jury to the effect that they find a verdict of guilty and fix the punishment at ten years in the penitentiary.
Jobson was then told to stand up and the foreman of the jury handed the verdict to the clerk, who read it aloud. The verdict stated that the prisoner had been found guilty of the offense charged in the indictment, and as more than one hundred dollars' worth of property had been destroyed, punishment was ascertained at ten years in the penitentiary.
The jury was then discharged, and after getting their jury tickets at the clerk's office, left for home in Suffolk on the evening train.
On Tuesday morning, Jobson will be arraigned again on the charge of attempting to burn Fiske's printing house. It is understood that he will plead guilty and receive eight years' additional confinement. Then in the case of all other indictments against him, no presequi will be entered by the Commonwealth.
The verdict was the subject of general interest and discussion on the streets last night.
JOBSON SENTENCED JUNE 16, 1897
Yesterday Ellis B. Jobson, through his attorney, appeared in court in accordance with an agreement made on Saturday. A panel of twenty jurors from Norfolk was called. Out of that number one had expressed his opinion and said he could not sit on the jury, and one did not come over. From the list of sixteen, four were stricken off and the other twelve, in accordance with instructions from the Commonwealth's Attorney, without leaving the bench, returned a verdict of eight years in the penitentiary. After the verdict was rendered, Commonwealth's Attorney K. R. Griffin made a motion that a nol pros be entered in all the other cases separately and jointly against Jobson, but his associates objected, and said that sentence should be first be passed and then a nol pros be entered, as it was a part of the agreement that immediate sentence should be passed, so that the contract could be carried out in detail and the Jobson case be entirely disposed of. At this point Captain Marshall arose and asked the court to suspend sentence, as he desired to use Jobson in a case pending against his client, Dolman, in two cases, and that he considered him a material witness. This caused Colonel Griffin to jump on his feet in an instant and oppose the motion. He said that if the motion to suspend prevailed, the agreement between Jobson and his counsel will be declared off. Major Crocker asked Captain Marshall to state what he expected to prove by Jobson. This he refused to do. Major Crocker then asked a private conversation with Jobson so that he might learn what he knew and if he considered it of sufficient consequence, he would ask the court to dismiss the charge against Dohlman in that case. Captain Marshall asked the court not to allow the Commonwealth Attorney to interview his witness.
This caused considerable argument in the case. Major Crocker spoke with considerable feeling in the matter. He expressed himself in strong terms in regard to the matter of counsel interviewing prisoners to know what he knew after a compromise had been made. Captain Marshall then spoke feelingly and his argument lasted for over two hours. The court finally sentenced Jobson and he cannot now be used as a witness for or against Dohlman.
There was a large crowd in attendance to hear the argument.
JUNE 16, 1897
SENTENCED FOR 18 YEARS -
LAWYERS HAVE QUITE AN INTERESTING TILT in REFERENCE to It.
Ellis B. Jobson, as per announcement in Sunday's Pilot, pleaded guilty yesterday to setting fire to the dwelling of Mr. W. A. Fiske on the night of March 27. Because Mr. Fiske didn't happen to sleep there,the lawyers for the State said that it was a penitentiary offence, and Jobson was therefore sentenced for a term of eight years, making in the aggregate 18 years, he having been given 10 years Saturday for the Whitehurst Hall fire.
A panel of 20 men from Norfolk were in attendance, and the following were selected as jurors: C. L. James; John L. Pierce; G. McG. Goodrich; S. W. Phillips; Percy R. Jones; Leon Salzberg; J. G. Simmons; J. Leon Wood; A. G. Duncan; H. A. Wood; G. M. Holland; Morgan Bradford, Jr.
Captain Marshall wanted Jobson as a witness in a case of the State vs. Dohlman and moved the court to suspend sentence until his client came to trial, saying that he would make oath that Jobson was a most material witness for Dohlman and made an argument on that line.
Messrs. Griffin, Crocker and Stewart opposed the motion for suspension of sentence, and the court sustained them by overruling Captain Marshall's motion.
Thus by the sentencing of Jobson, which was done yesterday, Dohlman loses the benefit of what Captain Marshall said was a "most material witness."
Ellis B. Jobson Sentenced
As per agreement between counsel for prisoner and counsel for the commonwealth, Ellis B. Jobson was arraigned in the hustings court this morning upon the charge of setting fire to the dwelling house of Mr. W. A. Fiske, on the night of the 27th of March last.
It being proven that Mr. Fiske was not at home during that night, the offense became punishable by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than five years nor more than ten years. The jury, which was from Norfolk, without retiring rendered a verdict in accordance with the plea of the prisoner of guilty and fixed the punishment at eight years in the penitentiary.
Counsel for Joseph F. Dolman here moved to suspend sentence on Jobson, because he (Jobson) was a very material witness in the cases of Dolman which were yet to be tried.
This motion produced decided hostilities between the lawyers, and for a while sharp and rapid waged the war of words.
Col. Stewart, for the commonwealth, opposed the motion upon the ground that the agreement was partly based upon a speedy trial and sentence. Col. Griffin and Major Crocker both made strong arguments against the motion.
Capt. Marshall answered in a like spirit, and it was quite a while before absolute peace settled down on the scene.
After lengthy consultation between counsel, Major Crocker stated that they had decided that the court should have evidence of the materiality of the prisoner as a witness, and that the matter would now be left entirely with the court.
Captain Marshall again explained himself and pressed his motion.
The court here stated that it was a part of the agreement in prosequing all the other cases against Jobson that sentence should be passed today on both cases of which he had been found guilty -- that is, of ten and eight years respectively -- and that it would not dismiss the other charges against Jobson until after sentence had been passed.
Counsel for Dolman here filed his affidavit regarding his motion, and the court overruled the motion and stated that it would pass sentence upon Jobson today.
The prisoner, Ellis B. Jobson, was here asked by the clerk to stand up, and the court passed sentence upon him in both cases. In conclusion, the court stated to the prisoner that he and his counsel had both acted wise in making the compromise with the commonwealth.
Here all of the other cases against Jobson were nolle prosequied. Jobson's time in the penitentiary begins today, but he will not leave here until the end of this term of the court. Ellis B. Jobson is now about 23 years of age, and as 48 days are deducted from each year's service in prison for good behavior, he therefore need not be away from home for more than about 15 1/2 years, and will come out of prison still a young man.
[Note -- at the bottom of the page, written in the hand of Col. Wm. H. Stewart, is the following statement -- "Jobson was taken to the penitentiary on June 19th (Saturday) 1897"]
FRIDAY EVENING, JUNE 18, 1897
JOHN GLOVER ON TRIAL.
CRISMOND REHEARSES the STORY of the LOOKINS FIRE.
He was Glover's Accomplice and Applied the Torch --
No Trouble About Getting a Jury --
A Witness Fined for being Late.
[Note - Written at the top of the page in the hand of Col. Wm H. Stewart is the following: "Crocker and Stewart did not assist"]
The trial of John E. Glover for setting fire to E. B. Lookins' store, corner of Green and Race streets, on the night of October 11, 1895, was begun before Judge A. S. Watts and a jury in the hustings court this morning. The prisoner plead not guilty to the indictment, and his counsel entered a formal demurrer.
Mr. Little, a stenographer, was sworn in to take down the evidence.
A delay of three quarters of an hour was caused by the absence of Alice Riddick, a witness for the commonwealth, for whom a rule was issued by the court. When the tardy witness came in a fine of $2.50 was assessed against her.
No trouble was experienced in getting a jury, the panel being made up as follows:
Wm. Easby; J. P. Coper; W. H. C. Deans; Wm. E. Gayle; George P. Dyson; Joseph McCarris; Arthur Emmerson; C. B. Moore; F. E. Gerke; W. E. Virnelson; L. H. Davis; John T. Eastwood.
The main witness in the trial was J. E. Crismond, who testified that he had been Glover's accomplice in the burning, and had applied the torch himself.
Before Crismond, E. B. Lookins, proprietor of the liquor store, had testified that he valued the store at $1,1000 and the stock at $1,499.
Mr. Lookins said between $300 and $400 of his goods had been stolen the night of the fire.
His clerk, Vernon Ballentine, had preceded him to the witness chair, and he told what he knew about the fire, which was mighty little. When he arrived at the scene, Ballentine testified he found that the entire stock of liquors and cigars had been carried out on the sidewalk. He missed a lot of cigars, and when the fire had been put out, he went around among the spectators hoping to find some one who had some of the cigars in their possession. Glover and Crismond had some of the cigars -- eight boxes between them -- and gave them up, with the exception of one box, when Ballentine asked for them.
At this point Judge Brooke, on the ground of irrelevance, asked the court to have withdrawn and excluded from the jury all evidence as to cigars being found in Glover or Crismond's possession, because the store having been broken open when the fire was discovered and the stock anyone might have helped himself to what he saw before him, but his doing so was not evidence that he had set fire to the store.
The motion was overruled and exceptions noted.
Crismond came on the stand apparently an unwilling witness. When asked to give his version of the crime with which he and Glover are jointly charged, he answered, "Well, I `spose I'll have to."
"May it please the court," interjected Judge Brooke, "I wish the court to instruct the witness that it is not necessary for him to testify unless he wants to."
"Well, I've already taken the oath to tell the whole truth as the commonwealth's witness, and I suppose I had better do it.
"It's been more than a year ago since the fire was, and me and him did it," said Crismond, in beginning the story of the crime. "The night of the fire, Neal Ballentine, Glover and myself were at Lookins' place when he closed, and I think he gave us each a drink. Ballentine proposed that we go up town and get something to eat. Went to a cook shop on Godwin street, ate and came back; then Ballentine went home. After that I said to Glover, `let's make a fire.' Said Glover, `if we are going to do anything like that, come over here.' "
The witness said that Glover led the way into a vacant field back of Lookins' bar, where they talked for some time, and, as he said, "made up their minds." They got some waste from a car box and went to a house in Pearson's row. That house was in ashes an hour afterwards, but the witness was not allowed to tell anything about it in the present case.
Coming out of Pearson's house, Crismond said that he and Glover went to Lookins'.
"We had some talk together, and Johnnie wanted to set fire to Lookins' store, but I didn't. It was the first time that I had ever done such a thing, and I think it was the first time Johnnie had ever done it either, and I didn't want to do it." said Crismond, who at this point seemed to be on the verge of tears. "But we went in the back way and set the fire in the window at the back of the house."
"Who set the fire?" asked the commonwealth's attorney.
"I put the waste in behind the window shutter," answered Crismond.
"Who applied the torch, then?"
The rest of Crismond's testimony was chiefly corroborative of the preceding witnesses.
In the course of a long and searching cross-examination Judge Brooke attempted to extract from Crismond an admission that having made a confession to the authorities which would be very apt to hang him, he had implicated others for the purpose of making his own burdens lighter.
Crismond stuck doggedly to the assertion that he made a full confession because his conscience impelled him to do so, and that Judge Brooke was wrong in his supposition as to his motives in the matter. He said that both he and Glover were drunk the night of the fire. Crismond was still on the stand when this account closed.
FIRES A YEAR AGO JUNE 1897
John W. Glover on Trial for Firing E. B. Lookins' Store --
Ed Crismond Swears that Glover and Himself Fired the Building.
The trial of John W. Glover, charged with burning E. B. Lookins' store, on the night of October 11, 1895, was commenced yesterday. Judge D. Tucker Brooke and Mr. Alex. E. Warner are counsel for the prisoner, and Colonel Griffin represents the Common-wealth. There was no difficulty in securing a jury, the following being accepted: William Easby; J. B. Cowper; W. H. C. Deans; Arthur Emmerson; C. B. Moore; F. E. Gerke; William E. Gayle; George P. Dyson; Joseph McCarris; W. E. Virnelson; L. H. Davis and John T. Eastwood.
A delay was caused by the absence of Alice Riddick, a witness for the Commonwealth for whom a rule was issued by the Court, and a fine of $2.50 was assessed against her.
The main witness in the trial was J. E. Crismond, who testified that he had been Glover's accomplice in the burning, and had applied the torch himself. Mr. Lookins said between $300 and $400 of his goods had been stolen the night of the fire. His clerk, Vernon Ballentine, told what he knew about the fire. When he arrived at the scene, he found that the entire stock of liquor and cigars had been carried out on the sidewalk. He missed a lot of cigars. Glover and Crismond had some of the cigars -- eight boxes between them -- and gave them up, with the exception of one box.
Judge Brooke asked the Court to have withdrawn and excluded from the jury all evidence as to cigars being found in Glover and Crismond's possession, because the store having been broken open when the fire was discovered and the stock taken out and placed in the street, anyone might have helped himself to what he saw before him.
The motion was overruled and exceptions noted.
Crismond when asked to give his version of the crime with which he and Glover are jointly charged, answered, "Well, I `spose I'll have to."
"It's been more than a year ago since the fire was, and me and him did it." said Crismond. "The night of the fire, Neal Ballentine, Glover and myself were at Lookins' place when he closed and I think he gave us each a drink. Ballentine proposed that we go up town and get something to eat. Went to a cook shop on Godwin street, ate and came back; then Ballentine went home. After that I said to Glover, `Let's make a fire.' Said Glover, `If we are going to do anything like that, come over here.' "
The witness said that Glover led the way into a vacant field back of Lookins' bar, where they talked for some time. They got some waste from a car box and went to a house in Pearson's row. That house was in ashes an hour afterwards, but the witness was not allowed to tell anything about it in the present case. Coming out of Pearson's house, Crismond said that he and Glover went to Lookins'. "We had some talk together, and Johnnie wanted to set fire to Lookins' store, but I didn't. However, we went in the backyard of Lookins' and set the fire in the window at the back of the house."
"Who set the fire?" asked the Commonwealth's Attorney.
"I put the waste in behind the window shutter," answered Crismond.
"Who applied the torch, then?"
The rest of Crismond's testimony was chiefly corroborative of the preceding witnesses.
Judge Brooke attempted to extract from Crismond an admission that, having made a confession to the authorities which would be very apt to hang him, he had implicated others for the purpose of making his own burdens lighter.
Crismond stuck firmly to the assertion that he made a full confession because his conscience impelled him to do so, and that Judge Brooke was wrong in his supposition. He said that both he and Glover were drunk the night of the fire.
After Crismond concluded his testimony three other witnesses, two colored women and one a colored man, were placed on the stand, but their evidence amounted to very little that was material.
Court then adjourned until 10 o'clock this morning. The trial will, in all probability, conclude today.
GLOVER ACQUITTEDJUNE 1897
THE JURY UNANIMOUS ON A VERDICT.
The Accused Yet to be Tried on Other Charges
He Was Placed on the Stand and Testified.
The trial of John W. Glover, charged with setting fire to Lookins' store, was taken up again yesterday. The Commonwealth having concluded its evidence yesterday morning, witnesses for the defense were called.
J. M. Broughton, watchman at the jail, said that Crismond asked him what Glover was in jail for; said he (Crismond) burned Lookins' store, and described how he did it; did not say that he was assisted by Glover. Crismond also stated at another time that he did not know why Glover was in jail, as he knew of no crime which he had committed. Heard Crismond say he would do anything to get out of his trouble.
In the course of the cross-examination Colonel Griffin tried to find out how Broughton had got in the case. Broughton said the prisoners were constantly talking to one another from one cell to another, and that Glover would frequently ask him if he had not heard the prisoners say this thing and that, and he had answered yes or no, as the case might be. Glover told the lawyers to have him summoned, he supposed.
Colonel Griffin -- "You say the prisoners were always talking together? Could all of them overhear what would be said?"
The answer was affirmative.
Colonel Griffin -- "Did you ever, in the interest of Glover, carry a letter from one cell to another?"
Colonel Griffin -- "Ever carry any paper to Lynn and ask him to sign it?"
"No. I carried some blank paper and an envelope. Glover gave them to Lynn."
The main witness denied that he had passed any letters between the prisoners, and did not know of any being passed.
George W. Barbour, day watchman at the jail, heard Crismond ask Glover what he was in jail for. Glover replied that he did not know. Crismond replied: "I don't know what you are here for."
Charles H. Sturtevant testified as to the prisoner's good character; had known his family for three generations.
R. D. Guy, Charles B. Gould, W. A. Snyder, Charles T. Bland and C. A. McLean testified as to good character.
The prisoner was then sworn, and said that on the night of October 11, 1895, he was at Lookins' place, and left there about 11 o'clock with Crismond and Ballentine to get something to eat, they going to Jake Poole's place on Godwin street. He was sick and could not eat, and walked down the railroad track; afterwards saw Crismond and Ballentine with two women. He went back to Lookins' and the others arrived later with the women. Witness was still sick, and sat down on Lookins' side door steps. Crismond came up and said: "Let's go and get a drink." Went up to Ned Johnson's, on Effingham street, but he was closed; then started to Pace's, on High street, but when they reached County street, on Effingham, heard the cry of fire, and discovered Lookins' place to be on fire. Witness went back and helped to put out the fire and to bring goods out of the store. Did not know anything else until next day, when he found himself at home.
At the fire, witness found some men with a big paving stone read to break in. Neal Ballentine was there, and witness thought it was he that advised breaking the door. He said he would be responsible. When they had broken the door, the crowd rushed in.
This concluded the testimony, and the jury was excused while instructions were argued.
The argument lasted about two hours, conducted by Judge D. Tucker Brooke and Mr. A. E. Warner for the defense, and Colonel Griffin for the prosecution. The case was given to the jury about 6 o'clock and they were out about five minutes, and on returning into court rendered a verdict of acquittal. The jury was unanimous on the verdict. Glover is yet to be tried on other charges.
June 21, 1897
The jury in the Glover case agreed in five minutes Saturday evening on an unanimous verdict of acquittal.
The arguments, conducted by Col. Griffin for the State and by Mr. A. E. Warner and Judge D. Tucker Brooke for the defense, lasted for more than two hours, and the case was not given to the jury until 6 o'clock. Glover took the verdict very quietly. His face lit up with an expression of gladness as he looked around at his wife and baby, who were in the court-room at the time, but quickly resumed its usual expression of close interest in the proceedings. Shortly afterward he was taken back to jail.
This morning Glover was taken before Judge Watts in the hustings court, who admitted him to bail in the sum of $1,200, recognizing him to appear in court on the first day of the July term to answer the charge of arson. Bond was given by Mrs. Charles J. Wythy, Glover's aunt. Glover will return to the Franklin, where he is enlisted as a boilermaker, tomorrow morning.
DOLMAN AGAIN ON TRIAL JUNE 22, 1897
HE IS BROUGHT FACE TO FACE WITH A JURY
OBTAINED IN NANSEMOND COUNTY.
Charged with Robbing the Store of S. Goodman March 19th Last -
Defense Offers a Series of Technical Objections --
All Overruled and Prisoner Pleads Not Guilty.
The trial of Ned Dolman for robbing S. Goodman's store on the 19th of March last was begun in the hustings court this morning before Judge Watts and a jury from Nansemond County.
Twenty jurymen were summoned, from whom were drawn the following panel: Benjamin Smith; J. H. Culley; J. H. Brinkley; T. B. Mason; A. T. Riddick; B. G. Butler; W. M. Atkinson; Wilson Norfleet; C. J. Duke; Jas. T. Duke; A. W. Ballard; Wm. T. Kilby.
Capt. R. C. Marshall, representing the prisoner, came into court prepared to fight over again the legal battle which he waged with the commonwealth's representatives at the first trial of Dolman, and opened his batteries by offering a succession of technical oppositions, which are described in legal phraseology thus:
Capt. Marshall craved oyer of the venire facias of the special grand jury, craved oyer of the list, and also craved oyer of the list of the regular grand jury. He moved to quash the venire facias for the special grand jury on the ground that it was illegally constituted and drawn; craved oyer of the venire facias summoning the jury for the trial of the cause; moved to quash the indictment on the ground that it was improperly issued; moved to quash the indictment on the ground that there is another indictment pending at this time for the same offense found at another time by another grand jury; demurred to the indictment, specially as to the joint ownership mentioned therein.
These points were severally overruled as they were made and Capt. Marshall noted exceptions in each instance.
The prisoner was arraigned and plead not guilty.
S. Goodman was the first witness called and remained on the stand until the court took a recess.
Frank Linn, Dolman's accomplice, will be a witness against him.
At 4 o'clock, the court reconvened. Deputy Sheriff Abbott and Officer Warren were put on the stand and told about the finding of the goods.
After they had testified, Mollie Linn was put on and told the same story that she had previously told. She was put through a severe cross-examination for over an hour and a half, but nothing new was brought out.
Arthur Cavanaugh was the next witness, who testified to Linn and Dohlman being at the oyster-house the night of the robbery. At the conclusion of his testimony, the court adjourned until 10;30 o'clock this morning, when Frank Linn will tell his story.
DOLMAN PLEADS GUILTY JUNE 23, 1897
GETS FIVE YEARS for the GOODMAN ROBBERY -
NINE YEARS IN ALL
The Defense Capitulates After a Conference with the Commonwealth's Lawyers -
The Prisoner Sentenced - Other Indictments Against Dolman Quashed.
The Dolman trial was resumed in the hustings court this morning with a prospect of being carried to a legitimate conclusion -- that is, a jury verdict after due process of law and evidence -- but the defense developed other plans. Two witnesses (Robinson and Morris) had testified to seeing Dolman on the streets at a late hour on the night of the Goodman robbery, and Frank Linn, Dolman's accomplice, had been called to the stand to testify against him, when the attorneys for the defense asked the indulgence of the court for a consultation. They were closeted awhile with Dolman's brother, and then called in the attorneys for the commonwealth.
Upon coming back into the courtroom, Capt. R. C. Marshall announced an agreement with the commonwealth, whereby the prisoner would withdraw his plea of not guilty and enter a plea of guilty, taking five years imprisonment. The other indictments not yet tried, charging Dolman with burning Clark's oyster house, burning Codd's bar, burning Mrs. Williams' residence and burglarizing S. Goodman's store were to be quashed.
The defense withdrew it motion for the arrest of judgment and for new trials in the cases of Dolman for robbing Davis' store and Clark's oyster house, in each of which cases he received two years. At their request Judge Watts sentence the prisoner, his aggregate term being nine years, which divides Jobson's term by two.
Frank Linn will probably be tried on Monday.
Doleman Pleads Guilty
There was a big crowd in the Hustings Courtroom to-day, when the trial of Ned Doleman, for robbing Goodman's store, was commenced, and there seemed to be an impression that something was going to happen. Captain Marshall had a long conference with the prisoner, and then the taking of testimony was commenced and continued until the Commonwealth called Frank Linn. Then Captain Marshall had a conference with Major Crocker, who called in Col. Griffin and Col. Stewart. At the conclusion, Captain Marshall said that a plea of not guilty would be withdrawn and a plea of guilty entered, as the attorneys had agreed that the jury should return a verdict of five years, and that all other indictments be dismissed. This was done. The jury rendered their verdict, and Captain Marshall withdrew his motions for new trial, arrest of judgment, and other options made in the other two trials and Doleman was ordered to stand up. Judge Watts then sentenced him to serve two years for robbing Tom Davis, two years for robbing the oyster house of Arthur Jones and five years for Goodman's, making nine years in all. Immediately after sentence, Linn went up to the prisoner and had a very pleasant conversation with him. Doleman will be sent to Richmond the last of the week. Linn will be tried on Monday.
DOHLMAN GETS NINE YEARS JUNE 1897
HIS COUNSEL PROVED A GREAT BLESSING TO HIM.
He Escapes Trial For Five Other Very Serious Offenses Against
The Peace and Dignity of the Commonwealth
The trial of "Ned" Dohlman is at an end, and the young man will soon be under the care of Superintendent Linn, who is a servant of the people in the management of affairs at the State's great institution at Richmond.
Dohlman has been tried twice before for crimes, the penalty for which was confinement in the penitentiary. The first trial was for the breaking in and robbery of the grocery store of Thomas Davis, colored, in Lincolnsville. For this, he was given two years. The next was the breaking in and robbery of the oyster house, corner North and Dinwiddie streets, kept by Arthur Jones, colored. Two years was also the verdict of the jury in this case, making up to the trial which culminated yesterday -- four years confinement in prison which had been visited upon the young man in question.
The last legal battle in which Dohlman figured, or will figure for some time to come, ended abruptly yesterday, and very advantageously, too, for the accused.
This trial was for the robbery of the store of S. Goodman recently, and for which an out-of-town jury was summoned, coming from the town of Suffolk and county of Nansemond. The trial progressed all day Tuesday and half of the day Wednesday, and the prosecution had placed all of the witnesses for the State on the stand, and they all had told what they knew of the robbery and matters relevant there-to; and during all this time Dohlman's counsel, Messrs. Murdaugh and Marshall had fought a stiff fight, notwithstanding the fact that the odds were much against them in the preponderance of evidence.
"Call the next witness," said Judge Watts, and the name of Frank Linn was called, and in a few moments that young man emerged from a side room and, approaching the judge, took an oath to tell the truth and sat composedly down in the witness chair to await for the "drubbing" which he expected to get, and would have gotten, but for the turn of affairs just at this particular point.
Captain Marshall beckoned to Mr. Crocker and these gentlemen, with a brother of Dohlman, retired for a private conference.
Presently, Mr. Crocker came out and calling his colleagues, Messrs. Griffin and Stewart, into the other private room, a conference between the representatives of the commonwealth was held, which lasted only a very few minutes, when Mr. Crocker came out again, and being joined by Judge Murdaugh, again had a consultation with Captain Marshall and Dohlman's brother, where, it seems, that mutual concessions were made and an agreement arrived at satisfactory to the parties most directly interested.
Captain Marshall addressed the court and said that concessions had been made by the prosecution and the defence, and that he had agreed to withdraw his plea of "not guilty" and enter a plea of guilty in its stead, with the understanding that his client should receive a term of five years for the crime to which he had just entered a plea of guilty, making in all a period of time of nine years confinement in the penitentiary, and that the commonwealth had further agreed to enter a nolle prosequi in all the other indictments now standing against the accused in this court, and that the prisoner should be immediately sentenced as per the different verdicts found in each case cried against him.
The court made no objection to the agreement arrived at, and the proper legal form was gone through with, in the withdrawals of motions and other matters of a like kind standing before the court, after which Judge Watts sentenced Ned Dohlman as per the verdict ascertained in each case against him, and he was led back to prison to await transportation to the State's big prison house in the capital city.
The following will show the kind and number of cases which, after the action of the lawyers yesterday, Ned Dohlman will never be called to answer:
THE INDICTMENTS NOLLE PROSSED,
Commonwealth vs. Dohlman and Jobson, burning Codd's store.
Commonwealth vs. Dohlman and Jobson, burning dwelling house of Mrs. Mollie Williams.
Commonwealth vs. Dohlman, burglary of Goodman's dwelling house.
Commonwealth vs. Dohlman, burning Jones' oyster house.
NOTES OF THE TRIAL.
Linn seemed to be on the best of terms yesterday with Dohlman, laughing and chatting with him like good old friends.
Linn's trial, which will be a mere matter of form, will, it is thought, take place next Monday.
Dohlman got the best of the deal yesterday. He no doubt saved all the way from five to ten ye arts imprisonment in the penitentiary by the action of his counsel in being able to make terms with the commonwealth's representatives.
The charge against Dohlman of a misdemeanor, on an appeal from the mayor's decision, of a fine of $100 for throwing filth on a tramp, and only a few days before his arrest for the Goodman robbery, was also wiped off the docket.
THE LINN TRIAL JUNE 29, 1897
SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS
AND AGREES TO STAY OUT OF THE TOWN FOUR MORE
The trial of Frank Linn for burning Jones' oyster house on the morning of the 19th of March, 1897, was heard in the Court of Hustings today. The prisoner plead guilty to the indictment and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. Court was opened in the usual form at 11 o'clock and the jury, which had been secured from Norfolk, was sworn and W. B. Barron elected foreman.
Judge Watts asked Linn had he made an agreement with the commonwealth to plead guilty, and he said he had. When asked if there was any other consideration, he said there was, and Col. Stewart, of the prosecution, read the following paper, which Linn acknowledged signing:
PORTSMOUTH, Va., June 26, 1897
I, Frank Linn, in consideration of sentence for five years in the penitentiary on the indictment against me for burning Jones' oyster house, and dismissal of all other indictments except one, that of housebreaking (Goodman's store, on High street), agree not to return to the City of Portsmouth, within nine years of this date, and in default of this agreement, the attorney for the commonwealth will prosecute me on the said indictment for housebreaking. I hereby request the court to continue the trial on the said indictment until the July term, A. D., 1902, from that term to such other term or terms from time to time as the commonwealth's attorney may desire, to be finally determined in the year 1906.
Given under my hand and seal the day and year above mentioned.
(Seal) FRANK LINN
Witnesses -- Jos. W. Abbott, J. F. Crocker, W. J. Stewart.
FRANK LINN GETS 5 YEARS
FOR BURNING JONES' OYSTER HOUSE --
HE PLEAD GUILTY
All Other Charges Against Him, with the Exception of
Breaking into S. Goodman's Store, Were Quashed --
That One Will Be Held Over Linn Till 1906
Frank Linn, charged with the burning of Jones' oyster house on the night of March 19 last, was this morning arraigned before Judge Watts and a jury in the hustings court and plead guilty to his indictment.
By agreement with the commonwealth, Linn will serve five years in the penitentiary, the maximum penalty for his crime, and all other indictments against him, except for breaking into S. Goodman's store, will be quashed.
The agreement, as read to the jury, was as follows:
PORTSMOUTH, Va., June 26, 1897
I, Frank Linn, in consideration of sentence for five years in the penitentiary on the indictment against me for burning Jones' oyster house, and dismissal of all other indictments except one, that of housebreaking (Goodman's store, on High street), agree not to return to the City of Portsmouth, within nine years of this date, and in default of this agreement, the attorney for the commonwealth will prosecute me on the said indictment for housebreaking. I hereby request the court to continue the trial on the said indictment until the July term, A. D., 1902, from that term to such other term or terms from time to time as the commonwealth's attorney may desire, to be finally determined in the year 1906.
Given under my hand and seal the day and year above mentioned.
(Seal) FRANK LINN
Jos. W. Abbott, J. F. Crocker, W. J. Stewart.
In accordance with the request of the Commonwealth's attorney, the jury brought in a verdict of five years, and the prisoner was sentenced.
The jury had been drawn from Norfolk, and was composed of the following gentlemen: H. B. Brown, foreman; H. A. Wood; J. T. Casey; W. P. Bunfoot; E. D. Priddy; R. C. White; W. J. Baxter; J. C. Moore; M. Seldner; C. L. James; J. W. Bew; T. V. Morse.
EXILE FOR FIREBUGS.
Portsmouth's Method to Clear the City of a Band of Incendiaries.
Special to the Post:
Norfolk, Va., June 29. The city of Portsmouth is not only jailing the firebugs who terrorized the community and destroyed several hundred thousand dollars worth of property last spring, but a policy of exile is being enforced, which will keep the city clear of their presence for several years after their sentences expire.
Frank Linn, another of the Portsmouth firebugs and burglars was today convicted on both counts in the Hustings Court of that city, and his punishment fixed at five years in the penitentiary. He pleaded guilty and signed a contract, which was made a part of the court record, by which he agrees not to return to the city of Portsmouth within nine years. If he returns before the expiration of this time, he is to be prosecuted on the remaining indictments.
PORTSMOUTH STAR JULY 14, 1897
RESOLUTIONS OFFERED BY THE BOARD OF TRADE
At a meeting of the Board of Trade and Exchange held Tuesday, July 13, 1897, at 6 p.m., the following resolutions were adopted and the secretary was instructed to forward same to the City Council:
Owing to overcrowded space in our columns yesterday, we were forced to omit these resolutions from the report of the Council proceedings,
Resolved, 1. That the Board of Trade and Exchange extend to Maj. James F. Crocker and Col. Wm. H. Stewart the grateful thanks of this organization on its own behalf and upon behalf of all the inhabitants of the city of Portsmouth for the great assistance rendered the commonwealth in the prosecution of the band of incendiaries that has recently threatened and devastated our city.
Resolved, 2. That this board has noticed with appreciation that the unselfish devotion, untiring energy and great legal skill voluntarily given by Maj. Crocker and Col. Stewart, in conjunction with the duties performed by the commonwealth's attorney, has been rewarded by the conviction and punishment of the guilty persons, and that a feeling of relief and security now abides once more in this community.
Resolved, 3. That this board hereby acknowledges the great service rendered by these gentlemen and highly commend their action.
Resolved, 4. That this board hereby petitions the honorable the City Council to offer an appropriate compensation to Messrs. Crocker and Stewart in keeping with the character and volume of services rendered.
JOHN J. KING, President.
H. C. NIEMEYER, Secretary.
PORTSMOUTH FIRE-BUGS July 14, 1897
The City Council Shows Gratitude in a Substantial Way.
NORFOLK, VA., July 14 -- (Special)
The Finance Committee of the Portsmouth City Council has recommended that $500 be apportioned for the purpose of making a suitable present to Major J. F. Crocker and Colonel W. H. Stewart in recognition of their zeal and untiring efforts in assisting the Commonwealth's Attorney in the successful prosecution of the firebugs recently convicted in the Hustings Court. A resolution adopted by the Board of Trade endorsing the action of the committee was also unanimously adopted. The Council also ordered a warrant to be drawn in favor of Deputy Sheriff Joseph W. Abbott for $500, the sum offered as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the firebugs, who terrorized Portsmouth.
THE PILOT JULY 17, 1897
A JUST RECOMPENSE.
As a token of the high esteem in which Col. Wm. H. Stewart and Major James F. Crocker are held by the citizens of Portsmouth, the City Council, at its last meeting, upon a recommendation of the finance committee, present these gentlemen with the sum of $250 each, in recognition of the valuable services rendered by them in the prosecution of the persons recently convicted of house burning.
CRISMOND GETS FIVE YEARS. JULY 24, 1897
ARRAIGNED THIS MORNING, PLEAD GUILTY and WAS SENTENCED.
The Last Chapter in the Conspiracy to Burn the Town --
Crismond's Sentence Lighter Than Any of the Other Firebugs.
Ned Crismond gets five years in the penitentiary. He was arraigned this morning in the hustings court and plead guilty of burning Whitehurst's Hall. The jury rendered their verdict without leaving their seats. The matter had previously been arranged between the prisoner and the commonwealth, his punishment fixed. There was nothing for the jury to do but formally declare him guilty, recommend the stipulated term, and then be dismissed. It was over in a very little while. Crismond was sentenced and remanded to jail.
All remaining charges against Crismond and Glover were nolle prosequied. These are the last of the firebug cases. Four men have been convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for various terms, of which Crismond's is the shortest. So much for the diabolical plot to burn the town, of which this is the last chapter.
The jury in Crismond's case was drawn from Norfolk, as follows : S. B. Morris, foreman; John L. Nash; A. P. Pannill; H. C. Butler; Leon Salsberg; J. E. Moore; Enoch Capps; A. G. Duncan; D. J. Ryan; J. H. Findley; Frank Crews and J. T. Casey.
LANDMARK NEWSPAPER, SEPTEMBER 9, 1897
Major Crocker and Colonel Stewart Complimented
In the Mayor's annual meeting, which was read at the meeting of the City Council on Tuesday night, His Honor, in referring to the assistance rendered the Commonwealth's Attorney in the recent "firebug trials" by Major James F. Crocker and Colonel William H. Stewart, says: "The people of the city of Portsmouth can never discharge their obligations to these most excellent citizens, for the battle they fought was in defense of every man's fireside, from the most opulent to the humblest. Their names are written in indelible characters in the archives of Portsmouth for emulation in generations to come."
LAST OF THE FIREBUGS
Story of the Detection and Trial of the Portsmouth Incendiaries
AS TOLD BY ONE OF THE COUNSEL
Difficulties Attending the Prosecution --
Confessions of Participants --
Testimony of Accomplices--
Four Convicted and the Others Afraid to Repeat Their Crimes.
By William H. Stewart
June 30th, 1897
Sunday ! In the night time of the beginning of the 28th of March, 1897, the city was silent, the street lights glimmered, and the stars lent their glitter in breathless silence. Homes were still; the doors bolted, the shutters closed, the curtains drawn. The infant's breath warmed the check of the sleeping mother. The children smiled in sweet rest, as images of love. The father, with tired limbs slept in soft forgetfulness. Two thousand homes were in silence and sleep when the fire bell sounded, and the red flames, fanned by a fierce wind, blazed over many homes.
The lurid glare on the window panes startled the sleepers. Up in night robes, mothers with babes clasped in their arms and fathers leading half-sleeping children, fled to the street, and shivered and trembled as they witnessed the tempestuous fire consume their homes -- homes, dear homes, homes of love, of joy, of peace, of plenty, of prayer.
Why this cruel calamity? Why this outrage upon innocence?
The faithful watchman had passed on his after midnight round, when two men, followed in his wake -- one had saturated waste under his coat, both held ready matches in their hands. Without fear of God or man, instigated by evil mind, the match was ignited -- the waste ablaze and the house afire on that windy night. Swiftly they fled, while alarm and terror spread as the unbridled fire raged and carried ruin on its wings.
Who are the reckless fire fiends? Where are the sin-stained souls who destroyed the home, which a father's labor made for childhood's happiness, to be guided by the true woman whose pure light ever shines in the beauty of virtue and love?
These were the burning questions on every tongue. They were suspected, and their names were called; but not sufficient evidence could be found to justify their arrest. Three hundred people were homeless, and St. Paul's church, with its sacred associations and beautiful memorials, was in ruins on that Sabbath morning. The Mayor of the city called a public meeting by announcement in the churches to raise funds to relieve the sufferers. It was organized promptly at 4 p.m., and Mayor J. Thompson Baird made a pathetic address in declaring the purpose of the call. Over $550 were promptly subscribed. Then the people, who came from the church congregations to help the suffering victims of the great calamity, turned to discuss means for suppressing incendiarism, which had been so frequent since January 19, 1893.
The newspaper report said, "It was evident from the outset of the meeting that the men who composed it were deeply in earnest. They acted as a unit, amidst an ominous quietude, which told of repressed excitement and a complete awakening to the danger to which the city is exposed by organized incendiarism."
Major J. F. Crocker said, "Fellow citizens, I was not surprised. I was expecting that the city, sooner or later, would be swept by a conflagration. I have recognized for some weeks past, in the succession of fires, which have been of almost nightly occurrence, the work of an organized band of incendiaries. The time has come for us to organize a committee of safety. Let it be a secret organization. Let it co-operate with the authorities in stamping out this fearful incendiarism. Who can feel safe in his home when all are haunted by the fear that the tragedy of last night may be repeated at any time by the application of the torch?"
This "voiced the prevailing sentiment," and the meeting in a body, uno voce, with right hands uplifted tendered this service to the Chief Magistrate of the city to aid him in any way in detecting, arresting and convicting the heartless incendiaries. The young men, under the direction of Mr. H. L. Watts, reinforced the police force to guard the city. These kept the gang from applying the torch until the most desperate ones were in the custody of the law.
During the first three months of this year, there were eleven incendiary fires, and nine of these occurred during the windy month of March. Beside these there were several attempts where waste and other inflammatory materials were found. As I am informed, since the 8th of April there have been no known attempts to burn a building in the city, or suburbs, where the nefarious crimes first commenced in 1893.
Early in April, traces of crimes which occurred on the night of the 19th of March were discovered, which were promptly followed up by Officers Abbott and Warren, who arrested Frank Linn and "Ned" Doleman on the 8th of that month [April] on the charge of housebreaking.
The cases were called for examination before the Mayor on Saturday, the 10th. Colonel K. R. Griffin, the able commonwealth's attorney, being unavoidably absent from the city on that day, Mayor Baird, inasmuch as we had voluntarily tendered our services to him at the public meeting, sent for Major J. F. Crocker and myself to conduct the examination for the Commonwealth. We pressed the examination as far as we could on that Saturday and then the Court adjourned the cases until Tuesday, the 13th. That day, Colonel Griffin was on hand, and took the lead in the prosecution, requesting us to continue, for the work ahead seemed to rapidly increase in extent as we progressed. It was reported that a number of lawless confederates were still at large, who, as the old English forms of indictment would say, "Not having the fear of God before their eyes were moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil," to commit arson, the most heinous of all crimes.
Pending the examination of Linn and Doleman, Jobson and Crismond were arrested on circumstantial evidence, which a distinguished attorney said was not sufficient to hang a yellow dog. However, the Commonwealth's Attorney and his aids warmed to their work, and labored by day in the now hard contested legal examination, and by night seeking information and evidence. Little by little it was gathered or rather extracted from reluctant witnesses. We knew it was of vital interest to all good citizens to stamp out the lawlessness which threatened the destruction of our city, and this was the powerful incentive for our labors.
All the prisoners in custody had secured able and distinguished attorneys for their defense except Linn. We were informed on the 28th day of April by the vigilant and active Deputy Sergeant Abbott that he had made a voluntary confession and desired to see the representative of the Commonwealth to ask for mercy.
We met him in the parlor of the jailor, where he made a free confessions of his own offenses, and gave information of offenses of others. We then told him that if he would consent to become a witness for the Commonwealth and give true testimony, we would limit his punishment. He consented to be a witness and put himself in the hands of the Commonwealth.
He further informed us that some time in January, Doleman told him that Jobson wanted him (Doleman) to help burn Whitehurst Hall, and he (Doleman) refused that night; that about eight or nine days before the big fire that they (Jobson, Doleman, and Linn) were standing outside of the gas house, talking about it. Doleman said, "Wait for a windy night."
The morning of the 27th, about 9 o'clock, the three were in conference at Linn's house. Little Johnnie Taylor was present. Jobson said, "This will be a good windy night."
They agreed to help him, but Johnnie Taylor told his mother when she returned from the Hospital Saturday at 5 o'clock that afternoon, and she told Linn if he went out that night, she would go with him, and Doleman had a pain in his shoulder, so both remained home and did not help Jobson kindle the great conflagration which destroyed so much property and frightened so many women and children for many long nights after for the safety of their lives.
These disclosures gave us hope for the conviction of the principal incendiaries, but in the struggle we found many difficulties. The friends of the prisoners in jail and of the suspects at large were active and vigilant. Our movements were watched, reported and discussed in suburban bar-rooms. Threats and innuendoes sometimes came to our ears, but we pressed the enemy and gave little attention to their apologists.
On the 30th of April, Crismond stricken by conscience -- "the tortures of that inward hell," made a full and free confession to deputy Sergeant Abbott.
His friends, with the consent of his attorney, placed him in the hands of the Commonwealth.
Before this confession, we had only the circumstantial evidence adduced at the Mayor's Court, and Linn's hearsay, before herein stated. The former seemed to be generally regarded as insufficient to convict Jobson and Crismond, so we were compelled to utilize Crismond as a witness for the Commonwealth in order to secure punishment of both of the persons who engaged in the incendiarism of the 27th of March, embracing the Whitehurst Hall and Fiske's dwelling.
The spread of the latter fire seemed to be frustrated by Providential aid, but for which interposition greater destruction of property than that from Whitehurst Hall would have followed and loss of life might have resulted.
We concluded from our investigation that Jobson was the moving spirit of the outlaws and therefore should be safely secured to stop his nefarious work. We agreed to let Crismond off with comparatively light punishment if he would tell us of all the crimes in which he participated or knew of in the city. We told him we wanted nothing from him but the truth. We required a truthful statement of all the crimes of which he had personal knowledge.He gave us a detailed and successive statement of all the occurrences leading up to and embracing his and Jobson's crimes on the night of the 27th. He also told us of his and another's connection with the fire of Lookins and Pearson the 11th of October, 1895. His manner and conduct in making these statements were such as to impress us that they were strictly truthful as far as he could remember.
He seemed to appreciate fully his own great crimes, and did not spare himself from blame for his participation and he professed sincere repentance for them. He afterward refused to tell the special grand jury about the crimes until we made further concessions in regard to to his punishment through a relative.
Our concessions to Crismond and Linn were in the interest of the public good, to detect and punish as many incendiaries as possible. We have some cause for complaint against our friends, who were almost daily disparaging the evidence of the accomplices, upon which we were forced to depend to convict guilty parties, and the sequel has proved that we were right in at least two cases, where the accused, pending trial plead guilty. Had we discarded the testimony of Linn and Crismond, two of the boldest and most fearless desperadoes might be free men still. It was essential to secure the punishment of all four of the chief conspirators to be lenient to those two who first confessed and testified, for the basis of conviction for others was on the testimony of accomplices. The truth from them should be as convincing as the truth from any other source.
Our Virginia law permits a conviction on the testimony of an accomplice alone. The jury are the sole judges of the truthfulness, and it ill becomes laymen or judge to disparage such testimony under circumstances like these we have been confronting.
It is said by high legal authority that "it being established that an accomplice is a competent witness, the consequence is inevitable; that if credit be given to his evidence, it requires no confirmation from another witness.
Truth should be accepted, whether it comes from Jew or Gentile, African or Caucasian, criminal or Christian -- dumb conditions or circumstances which weld the links in the chain of guilt.
In all of these labors, which have extended over a period of two and a half months, we have pursued steadily a line of duty to the public regardless of consequences.
When the accused were forced to plead guilty, the Commonwealth tempered justice with mercy, and not one was punished to the extent to which he knew his crimes would have brought him had the Commonwealth pressed the indictments to the final issue.
The public enemies, who plied the incendiary torch so often in the month of March, are not now terrorizing our women and children. Those not imprisoned are afraid to continue their crimes lest they might be detected and share the fate of their confederates, and we hope the conclusion of these trials will end incendiarism in our city of Portsmouth.
JULY 18, 1900 THE PORTSMOUTH STAR
THE GOVERNOR, TRIAL JUDGE and COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY
Gov. Tyler's Reasons for Granting and Judge Watts'
for Endorsing the Pardon for Crismond Frankly Stated.
Much interest is felt in this city over the granting by Gov. Tyler of a conditional pardon to James E. Crismond, who was sentenced from Portsmouth to five years in the penitentiary for complicity in the firebug plot, which almost resulted in the destruction of this city on the morning of March 28, 1897.
Crismond was one of a gang of firebugs whose operations terrorized the good people of Portsmouth until some of the more timid were afraid to go to bed at night, and all the able-bodied men of Portsmouth were doing police duty. Those nights it was as much as a man's life was worth to stop behind a wind sheltered front stoop to light his cigar.
A conservative estimate places a valuation of $100,000 on the property destroyed by the fire started by these firebugs on and before March 29, 1897.
No effort was spared to hunt down the criminals, and when they were caught it was Crismond's testimony that convicted all, himself included.
From The Star's Richmond correspondent, instructed to interview Gov. Tyler on the subject of the pardon, comes the following special:
"Gov. Tyler, when seen in regard to the conditional pardon recently granted to J. E. Crismond, of Portsmouth, said that he had acted in the matter upon the recommendation of the board of pardons and the earnest solicitation of the judge and common-wealth's attorney of the city of Portsmouth.
"He said that the prisoner, having complied with the law, in that he had served one-half of his term and had kept the prison rules, was entitled to a conditional pardon, provided the board thought him a fit person for pardon.
"The Governor then produced the papers containing the petition and letters and the recommendations of the board. They embraced a great number of appeals and also strong letters from Judge A. S. Watts and Commonwealth's Attorney K. R. Griffin, in which they said they believed the ends of justice had been met and that had it not been for the testimony of Crismond, the other firebugs could not have been convicted, a fact which they thought should be worth something to the prisoner.
"These letters also call the attention of the board to the fact that Crismond had been an exemplary prisoner and had promised to lead a better life. The judge and attorney for the Commonwealth did not think that any harm would result to the community from his liberation, which they most heartily recommended to the board.
"The board," said the Governor, "acting upon these papers and upon their knowledge of the case, made the recommendation, and there was nothing left for me to do but to grant the condition pardon, which I did."
Commonwealth's Attorney Kenneth R. Griffin was averse to making any statement on the subject, being constantly besieged by requests to endorse pardons. He declined to talk further than to state that the endorsement made by him on the petition for pardon was rather a statement of fact regarding the value of Crismond's testimony at the trial of the four firebugs than a recommendation for a pardon.
It is a well known fact that Col. Griffin, Maj. Crocker and Col. Stewart played detective roles until the firebugs were run to earth and then secured their conviction. These gentlemen worked hard on the case, and any one of them is qualified to speak regarding the value of Crismond's testimony.
Judge A. S. Watts, before whom Crismond was tried and convicted, stated to The Star representative that he had intended endorsing the petition with a statement of facts regarding the value of the prisoner's testimony, which really served to accomplish the ends of justice.
"I signed instead, however," said the judge, "the petition for the pardon of Crismond, because I believed that, in view of all the circumstances surrounding the case, he had been there long enough.
He is out on a conditional pardon, the terms of which are that he must be a good citizen or return to the penitentiary to serve out the remainder of his sentence."
Col. William H. Stewart, who was largely instrumental in securing the conviction of Crismond, did not sign the petition for pardon. Col. Stewart stated to The Star representative who interviewed him on the subject this afternoon that he did not sign the petition for the reason that he considered the punishment inflicted very light in view of the gravity of Crismond's crime.
"I would not sign an application for the pardon of an incendiary, although I might for a murderer or burglar," said Col. Stewart, emphatically.
"The great destruction of property, part, I firmly believe, of a plot to destroy the entire city, merited all the punishment awarded."
Maj. J. F. Crocker, another of the prosecuting counsel in the case, is at Old Point Comfort, and, therefore, could not be seen, but from undoubted authority it is learned that he did not sign the petition for Crismond's pardon.