WVBROOKE-L Archives

Archiver > WVBROOKE > 2007-01 > 1170263469


From: "Julia A. Krutilla" <>
Subject: [WVBROOKE] 1887 DOUBLE MURDER - Part 5
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 12:11:09 -0500


BAKER IN COURT
http://www.rootsweb.com/~wvhancoc/BakerCourt.htm

The following article from the "The Saturday Review" newspaper,
East Liverpool & Wellsville, Ohio; July 2, 1887, Vol. 8, No. 38 Front Page
has been abstracted and contributed by Janet Waite
of the Genealogy Pit Stop - http://www.genealogypitstop.com/

Two Indictments Found Against Him For Murder In The First Degree

His Trial to Commence on Monday, July 13th.

And Will Probably Require two Weeks' Time for its Completion.

(Hancock County Independent, June 29)

Circuit Court met on Monday, Judge George E. Boyd presiding. A grand
jury was empanneled and B. J. Smith made foreman. After examining a
number of witnesses.

They finished their work in the evening, returning two indictments
for murder in the first Degree against Van B. Baker, one for the
murder of his wife, Eliza J. Baker, and the other for the murder of
Drucilla McWha.


Tuesday morning, as soon as court convened, Baker's counsel filed a
demurrer to the indictments. The prisoner was brought into court, to
be present during the argument. Deputy Chapman went to his cell in
the basement of the court house, and said: "Baker, are you ready?" He
replied in the affirmative, and the cell door was unlocked. Baker
stepped forth neatly dressed, with his shoes shining in a coat of
blacking. He wore a standing collar and white cuffs. He accompanied
the officer down the hall and up the stairs and entered the court
room. He was given a seat between Messrs. Donehoo and Braddock, his
counsel, while Mr. Coo, co-counsel, sat at another table. Messrs.
Huff, Hutchison, Brown, and J. G. Marshall, attorneys for the State,
sat at another table on the opposite side of the room.

The demurrer of the defense was upon the ground that the Prosecuting
Attorney was present in the grand jury room, and examined some of the
witnesses, and talked about evidence before the jury. They stated the
case was similar to one in Marshall county, in which Judge Jacob
sustained a demurrer on the same ground as set forth in this cause.
The prosecution argues that it was customary in this State for the
Prosecuting Attorney to be present in the grand jury room and examine
witnesses, and that the statute only provided that he should not be
there during the deliberations of the jury. That there was nothing in
the demurrer to show that the Prosecuting Attorney in this case dane
other than simply examine the witnesses, that he had not influenced
the jury in any way in arriving at a verdict.

Judge Boyd said it was the custom to this State for the Prosecuting
Attorney to examine witnesses before the grand jury. That in any
event the question was only a technical one, that the prisoner would
have a fair trial before a jury, and in the event of quashing the
indictments it would only result in calling another grand jury, and
cause delay. That he thought he was giving the prisoner the benefit
of any doubt, and refused to sustain the demurrer, thus deciding the
point in favor of the prosecution.

The defense then asked time to prepare other pleas, which was granted
them by the Judge. During the afternoon they prepared and presented
them. The first set forth that one of the grand jurors, (Wm. Roberts)
of the Cove, was a member of the coroner's jury.

The second was that the Sheriff who swore out the warrant for Baker's
arrest, impaneled the grand jury, and the third was that the
prosecution should file a bill of particulars showing how, when and
where the murder was committed. Counsel for both sides argued the
questions involved in the pleas, and Judge Boyd over-ruled them all.
Pending the argument of the questions, Mr. Cook, for the defense,
agreed with counsel for the prosecution, that the matter should be
made of record as though the prison was present. After the ruling of
the Judge, Mr. Braddock, for the defense, wanted the record to show
the prisoner was not present during the ruling of the court. The
court immediately sat down upon this motion, and the prisoner was
brought up and arraigned before the bar of the court. The Judge then
said: "Van Baker, you are indicted for killing Mrs. Drusilla McWha,
on the 9th day of May, 1887; are you guilty or not guilty?"

"Not guilty," was the reply from the prisoner.

Taking the 2d indictment in his had, the Judge said: "Van Baker, you
are indicted for killing Eliza J. Baker: are you guilty or not
guilty?" And again the prison plead "not guilty."

After some talk on both sides, it was agreed that a date for the
trial of the case should be set for some time in the near future.
Judge Boyd set Monday, July 18th, as the date for the commencement of
the case. Counsel for both sides agreed to this and the prisoner was
remanded back to the jail until that time.

NOTES

A great many from Holliday's Cove, were in attendance at the court.

Baker looks very pale. His long confinement seem to have bleached him
considerably. He seemed more nervous than usual, as he sat in the
court room. He was brought up from his cell without any handcuffs,
and carried his hat in one hand. As soon as the demurrer to his
indictments had been disposed of, he was taken down stairs and locked
in his cell again.

Everything indicates a large crowd in attendance when the case is
tried. It being the first murder case ever tried in Hancock county,
the public seems anxious to know all about it.

The bloody axe and bolt, which were used to commit the terrible deed,
are in the court house building.

When Baker was informed the grand jury had returned two true bills
against him for the murder he did not evince much surprise, and said
it was nothing more than he expected.

The trial is expected to continue for about two weeks. It is probable
one or two days will be consumed in securing a jury, and there are a
great many witnesses to be examined. Two or three days will be taken
up by counsel in the arguments before the jury, and taken altogether,
it is not likely the case will be concluded short of two weeks.

The attendance at court Monday and Tuesday was larger than usual.
Quite a number of witnesses had been summoned to appear before the
grand jury in the Baker case, and a great number of people were in
attendance at the court out of curiosity, under the impression that
the murder case would come up for trial the first thing. All day
Monday, the court house corridor was thronged with people, and a
great many took advantage of the occasion to gaze on Baker..

(Abstracted from the July 2, 1887, "The Saturday Review"
newspaper,East Liverpool & Wellsville, Ohio)


This thread: