W. G. M. THOMAS ON STAND
Unavoidable Delay in Trial of Ed Johnson
QUESTIONS OF CLOCKS BECOMES INTERESTING
Witnesses Fail to Agree About Timepieces
in Saloon on Night of Crime
DEPUTY SHERIFF GOES IN SEARCH OF TINKER
Fails to find Him, But Meets With Surprise When He Reaches Resort That is Playing Such a Leading Part in Case – Hearing May be Concluded and Verdict Reached Some Time Today –
Excitement Has Subsided and Officers Have No Trouble
An interruption in the Ed Johnson case was occasioned early yesterday afternoon by the sudden illness of one of the jurors. Charles Hall, prominently known in the city, made complaint of illness soon after his return from dinner. Judge McReynolds caused whatever remedies he desired to be produced but with no beneficial result. Later in the afternoon Mr. Hall was permitted to visit a drug store in company with Deputy Joe Richardson as a special officer and the trial was resumed upon his return.
The relief Mr. Hall obtained, if any, did not prove lasting and in a short time it was found necessary to adjourn court for his benefit. Mr. Hall was permitted under a special arrangement to spend last night at his home and the latest reports were that he would probably be able to resume his place as a juror this morning. The trial will probably be finished this afternoon.
Clocks were a leading feature of the trial yesterday. The question of whether there was one or more than one keeping correct time in the Last Chance saloon on the night of the crime was made a leading one by the prosecution and witnesses for the defendant had to undergo a rigid cross examination on the point.
SEVERAL STORIES ABOUT CLOCKS.
The question of clocks first came up when Ernest Cobb, a negro, swore on Tuesday that he looked at a certain clock when he entered the saloon that night and that it registered 6:10 o'clock. Other witnesses also referred to this clock. Yesterday afternoon Deputy Sheriff Charlie Baker visited the saloon and found that the standard time piece of many of the alibi witnesses had disappeared from the saloon and could not be located.
In order to make the situation clear to all who had never visited the "Last Chance," there were efforts made yesterday to describe the position of the building and two clocks said to have been within. The saloon – itself a pivotal point in the great trial – is situated on the west side of Whiteside street and consequently fronts toward the east. The resort is supposed to be the last chance for travelers along that street to obtain drink when leaving the city and the first chance when approaching.
It has been clearly established that there has long been a clock on the south wall of the saloon, facing the bar. It was a small clock. W. J. Jones, proprietor of the place, stated on the witness stand yesterday that this clock had long been a "crazy clock." Sometimes it would run and sometimes not. He said it had not been moved for a long time until Tuesday night of this week and that it stopped then within less than an hour.
At the west end of the bar room, according to the testimony of several negroes, there was a fine, large, new clock. It was, according to their statement, in full view of the front door and they had used it as authority for the time of their arrival at the saloon on the night of the crime now charged to Ed Johnson....
Yesterday a white man was called for the purpose of strengthening the alibi. He described his movements on that Tuesday night and said that he reached the Last Chance at 6 o'clock and found the defendant there, stating also that Ed Johnson had remained there within his sight until after 7 o'clock.
On cross examination he was tested as to the clock which he had used as authority. He said that it was the little clock on the south side of the room. Being questioned as to whether that clock was running he was emphatic that it was and he added that it was the only clock in the saloon at the time.
STICKS TO SMALL CLOCK STORY.
Then came the denouement. The attorney-general cautioned the witness that the small clock was not running at the time and that the only clock in the saloon that was running was large one opposite the front door. The witness said the small clock was running and that the big clock was not there. It had been put in place, he said, at a later date. He said the new clock had been placed there on Wednesday night or later.
In the afternoon the defense recalled Mr. Jones to the stand. He was asked about the new clock and he said he thought it had been put in place during the Monday evening previous. He said he had obtained it only on trial and that a traveling clock peddler had put it there. He said that the small clock had long been a "crazy clock." Sometimes it would run and sometimes it would not. He had tried it on last Tuesday night and it had stopped in less than an hour.
SEARCH FOR SMALL CLOCK.
On cross-examination Mr. Jones would not be positive whether the new clock had been put up before or after the night crucial in the present trial - it might have been on Monday and it might have been on Wednesday night. He could not locate the place of business of the vender selling him the clock, but he thought it was on Montgomery avenue near Market street.
From this time the state inaugurated a search for the clock tinker. It was desired to obtain a definite statement from him as to when he had put up the important time piece. It was stated at the time that the jury might hinge the innocence or guilt of Ed Johnson upon that clock. Deputy Charlie Baker was detailed to look up clock information. He hunted throughout Montgomery avenue and failed to find a man who would admit having hung a clock in the Last Chance at any time. He then visited the saloon and his astonishment was complete to find that if ever there had been a new clock on the wall as described by Cobb and Bruce, two negro witnesses, it had disappeared and had left no trace.
WILL HUNNICUTT ON STAND.
Yesterday's session of Judge McReynolds court was occupied exclusively y the defense with the exception of a brief testimony by J. T. Lupton, as a character witness in support of Will Hixson, the state's star witness. Mr. Lupton was on the stand when an adjournment was taken.
With the opening of court Judge Shepherd continued the introduction of witnesses in support of an alibi for Johnson. A negro named Will Hunnicutt was the first witness. He said he was an employee of the Chattanooga Packing company and had left his place of employment in time to reach the Last Chance at 6 o'clock. He said that Johnson was there at that hour. He stayed twenty-five or thirty minutes and Johnson was still there when he left. In an effort to determine whether the witness had been approached by any lawyer, Judge Shepherd asked Hunnicutt whether he had seen "that man" (pointing at Mr. Chamlee, one of the state's lawyers) at the Last Chance. The negro looked first at Mr. Chamlee, then at Mr. Whitaker, and finally pointed at Mr. Cameron, saying Mr. Cameron was the lawyer he had seen at the Last Chance. He referred to the large clock in front of the door when timing his arrival.
On cross-examination Hunnicutt said he was too much of an expert pool player to engage in playing with the ordinary negro. On that night he had not played for the reason that there was no one there in his class. In attempting to name the parties present at the time, he named Charles Bruce and could go no further. He said that Jeff Lee had tended the game on Monday night before and didn't remember whether Johnson was there that night or not.
The defense called Capt. Shipp to the stand and asked him concerning the cutting and examination of Johnson's clothing by Drs. G. M. Ellis and Y. L. Abernathy, in search of evidence of the crime. The sheriff said that the cutting had been done, but that no material information had been gained thereby. He said that it had been later learned that Johnson had later changed clothes prior to his arrest, which rendered ant examination of no consequence.
SEVERAL NEGROES TESTIFY.
George Bailey was the second negro witness for the defense at yesterday's session. He knew Ed Johnson and saw him at the Last Chance at 5 o'clock that afternoon and Johnson was there for an hour. Later he was not positive whether it was an hour, more or less.
J. G. Groves, a negro, who said he was employed by Ernest Scholze, said that he saw Johnson at the Last Chance that night at 6:30 o'clock. He admitted that he was one the "gang" that frequented that saloon and that he was a good friend to defendant. He referred to the same clock – the large one opposite the door – as his information regarding the hour he named.
STORY OF HARVE M'CONNELL.
Harve M'Connell, an old-time negro, regarded as one of the pivotal witnesses for the defense, proved the source of some of the most interesting testimony during the day. He was of special interest on account of the claim advanced on Tuesday that a conflict of serious character existed between him and Will Hixson.
McConnell stated that on the morning prior to Johnson's arrest, Will Hixson had entered his coal yard and inquired of him concerning the man employed on the "rock" church. Witness said he told Hixson that he knew all of them by sight but only knew one of them by name and that was Ed Johnson. Witness said that Hixson told him then that Johnson was the man the authorities wanted for the outrage of the previous Tuesday night and that he said, "It can't be Johnson. He's like me – he may have enough sense to do such a thing but he isn't brave enough."
Witness said that he described Johnson to Hixson and that while they were talking Johnson and another negro passed along in front of the office going toward the city. He said he pointed out Johnson to Hixson and later called out something to the passing negro. Hixson then left the office and said that his son Cicero was present at the time.
Cicero was called next. He said he had stopped at his father's coal yard that morning to wait for a car to carry him to the store of Thomas & Thomas where he was employed. He repeated the statements previously made by the old man.
W. G. M. THOMAS ON STAND.
Attorney W. G. M. Thomas then took the stand and his testimony, extending the greater part of an hour, was a hard drive at Hixson's story. In brief Mr. Thomas' testimony was as follows:
He had been notified by a man named Drennan by telephone of what the
old man McConnell knew and had visited the latter and heard the foregoing
statement. That was on last Friday. Saturday, in company with Mr. Cameron
and Capt. Shipp, he had gone to Hixson's room and in a long conference
detailed to him McConnell's story. He said that he reasoned with the young
man concerning the vital part his testimony might play in the trial and
urged him to adhere only to the truth. The young man denied in toto McConnell's
story as detailed by witness and volunteered to accompany the whole party
and face the negro.
This offer was accepted. All four went to the coal yard, and there McConnell stood face to face with young Hixson and repeated the story as before given, using "Wednesday" morning instead of Thursday. The young man stood and listened, then turned away, saying "I can prove I was not here that morning."
SAYS HIXSON HUNG HEAD.
Mr. Thomas illustrated the position assumed by Hixson during the narrative by taking his stand before the jury and hanging his head very low and showing that on the occasion Hixson's head had dropped lower and lower. He said that Hixson uttered no word of denial.
Mr. Thomas then told of his visit to Nashville to see Johnson, but was not permitted to detail any of the conversation engaged in during that conference. He said that not a word was said to Johnson of his plan of defense.
On cross-examination Mr. Thomas insisted that Hixson had denied any conversation at any time or place with McConnell and that McConnell had said that Hixson had not telephoned from his coal yard. He admitted that Mr. Cameron, another attorney for the defense, had visited Johnson in Nashville several days before his own trip.
D. W. Thomas, member of the city council from the Eighth ward, was called upon as a character witness for both the McConnells.
J. W. Younger, of St. Elmo, was also a character witness, giving the elder McConnell a good reputation and swearing he would believe him on oath. On cross-examination Younger also gave a good character to Will Hixson.
ATTORNEY R. T. CAMERON.
Attorney Robert T. Cameron was introduced and proceeded to repeat much of the story detailed by Mr. Thomas. When he submitted to cross-examination, Mr. Whitaker, without preface, asked the witness concerning certain moneys alleged to have been raised by negroes and paid to him as attorney for the defense of Johnson.
Mr. Cameron, after a few searching questions, admitted that on the day he went to Nashville to see Johnson he was asked what were the financial demands of the case. He said that he had refused any compensation for his services, but had told the negroes that anything they might do toward meeting necessary expenses would be acceptable. He was then told he would find some money at the Last Chance saloon and that he did find the sum of $9 there, which he used in defraying his expenses on the Nashville trip. Mr. Cameron did not know who contributed the money, but stated that it was handed to him by Mr. Jones.
W. J. Jones, owner of the Last Chance, was introduced and his testimony was awaited with interest because of the general opinion that he would cinch the alibi theory. On direct examination he said that he did not see Johnson on that Tuesday night at any time prior to 8 o'clock. At that hour Johnson had made a settlement with him for drinks sold downstairs and paid him three dimes. He did not know at what hour Johnson reached the saloon or whether he was there during the evening or not.
MR. JONES CROSS-EXAMINED.
In response to cross-examination, Mr. Jones said that he did not do
any "check" business on pool games. He had not given Jeff Lee or Johnson
any checks to cover the evening's games and that the 30 cents was all he
had received from Johnson.
Asked about the money he had delivered to Mr. Cameron, Jones said he had given $9. He had subscribed one dollar of that sum himself, $4.50 had been given him by Johnson's father and the balance had been subscribed by Jeff Lee and other negroes, habitues of the Last Chance, who had testified in the case.
Isaac Doret, a negro, continued the testimony on the alibi theory. He saw Johnson at the saloon early in the evening. He timed his own arrival at the saloon by reference by the clock opposite the front door.
A white man named Van Lowe detailed a visit to the Last Chance that night. He said he had been run away from Patterson's saloon that night on a threat that he would be "run in' for vagrancy. He went to the Last Chance and entered by the back way. It was 6 o'clock by the clock on the south wall when he entered and Johnson was there then. He left more than an hour later, leaving Johnson still there.
On cross-examination Van Lowe said he had been convicted of larceny and other offenses but his citizenship had been restored. He had been convicted of stealing a hog. His attention was then called to the clock question. He adhered to the little clock on the south wall as his authority and declared there was not other clock there at the time. The large new clock, he said, had been put in the saloon after that night....
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