Supreme Court, Part 3

Reprinted from the Evening Telegram,
March 20, 1925

 

Supreme Court (Before Mr. Justice Kent)

This Morning Session

When the trial began this morning the prisoner was again placed on the Witness Stand and his cross-examination by Mr. Hunt resumed. Asked if he had cut the tree away before the squall came, witness said it wanted four or five more chops. When he returned after bringing the boy home, he said he cleared it from the stump. His reason for going out to the wood the second time was to see his brother, and for no other reason except to get his hatchet and saw. He told his brother the same story he told Mr. King that he left the boy to gather some logs whilst he went to cut some more. Witness declared that what he told his brother was false. It never entered his mind that it was best to let the tree alone until the authorities saw it. At Hillview he met Mr. Frost and he repeated to him the same as witness said. The accused admitted that this also was a false story. Witness on further cross-examination said his story to Miller was false, and the boy was not under the dogwood bush. He did not know why he told all the people that the boy was found lying face down. It was a falsehood that he sang out to the boy and then came down the hill towards him. On the way out with the dying boy he passed seven or eight houses and it never came in his mind to get any assistance. After arriving home he left the boy there and returned again to the woods. Four days after he brought Constable Pittman to the scene of the accident and told him about finding the boy by the dogwood trees, and gave particulars. Witness said all the story he gave the policeman was false. To neither his wife, brother nor the five or six other people did he tell a true story, and the first time he spoke of the boy being killed by the tree was when he was in the lockup at St. John’s.

Re-examined by Mr. Bradley witness said he did not know why he did not seek assistance at the nearest house. He wanted to get him home as quickly as possible. The boy was standing about 5 feet away when the tree fell. At 11 a.m. Mr. Bradley began his address to the jury. First he dwelt on the history of the boy for the two years he was living with the accused, dwelling particularly on the boy’s proclivity for going in the woods. Then he reviewed the story as told by the accused. He urged that too much reliance could be put on the story of what particular part of the tree struck the boy. Falling on him it would have crushed him. It was evident that the trunk did not strike him. Mr. Bradley continued the story of the occurrence as related by the prisoner, and claimed that it squared with proven facts. He said he did not propose to impeach the veracity of the Crown witnesses, and admitted their evidence as told. The scratches and abrasions on the face and arms were such as could be made by limbs of a tree. As to the marks on the boys buttocks neither he nor his client could account for them, but it possibly could be done by one of the lower limbs on the tree. He claimed that the Crown had produced no evidence to show that the accused had put any of the marks on the boy’s body. Had he been beaten there would be bruises. There was no evidence of his being beaten by a stick and unless the accused clawed the boy he could not produce the scratches. Dealing with the lying statements, he said it was natural judging from the type of man the accused was that he should fear what would happen to him because of the boy’s death. He knew he was morally responsible in allowing the tree to fall on the boy, and in this state of mind he was full of fear that he might be held responsible, and it was human for him to tell lies in order that he would be brought into trouble. The stories told the witnesses were, he claimed, in to a clumsy attempt of the accused to disassociate himself from the death. Regarding the blood marks found on the snow, he claimed that had a murder being committed, the accused would have removed the evidence. Further there was no evidence that the blood was that of the boy. There was absolutely no evidence against the accused beyond that which was circumstantial. There was no evidence that the accused had beaten or throttled the boy, and he had gone in the box and sworn that he had not beaten him, and his testimony was unshaken. Nor was there any evidence to show any reason why the accused should wish to get rid of the boy. In conclusion, Mr. Bradley asked that the jury should give the facts their closest consideration, bearing in mind that no direct evidence had been produced against him, and he felt sure they would do every justice to the accused knowing that his life rested in their hands

Mr. C.E. Hunt then proceeded with the address on behalf of the Crown, and pointed out that murder or manslaughter were difficult crimes to bring home to an accused because the crimes are committed in secret. Crown Counsel pointed out that there was no way in which to get the story of what happened on that day except from the accused. He held that there is nothing to be hidden the truth is told, but when some wrong is done, lying stories are resorted to. The admitted facts in the case pointed to the guilt of the prisoner. He was the only one who saw the whole transaction, yet when he came home he told falsehoods to his wife, his brother, and others. On eight different occasions he told a story different to that which he told on the witness stand, and it was not until he was brought to court that he told anything of the tree falling on the boy.

The Crown contended that the story is false. There was no reason to deny that the tree fell on the boy – if it did fall on him. According to his evidence the accused was willing that the boy should be buried without anyone knowing what happened to him. Reviewing the story of what transpired after the boy was picked up, the Crown counsel claimed that all actions of the accused showed a most callous nature, and he asked why he had gone back to the “scrape” to saw off the log within an hour after the tragedy unless he had a reason for doing so. The Crown claimed that it was when he went back the second time that he cut the tree. The end of the log did not bear evidence of the tree being blown down by a gust of wind, and he claimed that this end of the log which was clean cut through was a silent denial of the story of the accused. He put it to the jury as a probable fact that the boy wanted to get his rabbit slips and the accused wanted him to work. In connection with the death it was not the duty of the Crown to show exactly how it was brought about, the jury had to be convinced that the accused was the responsible party, and if it was brought about by premeditation or on the spur of the moment. If they found in the former, they could but bring in a verdict of murder. If in the second case it might be either murder of manslaughter. Counsel claimed that the marks on the face and those on the buttocks pointed to the manner in which the boy met his death. He claimed that the defence was put to the extremity of practically admitting a charge of manslaughter in order to hide the tree story of the occurrence. The circumstantial evidence produced by the Crown was compatible with the charge made. It was not compatible with the story told by the accused. Mr. Hunt concluded his very able address at 1 p.m., when recess was taken at 2:30 p.m. Before retiring to lunch His Lordship the Chief Justice directed the jury to make an examination of the portions of the tree which were in the court room as exhibits.

 

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These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.