Lake County History, Chapter 116: The White Cap Murders, Part 7

Four more days later, after the weekend, on February 10, Sheriff Boggs re-opened the court. All parties being present and ready for business, the jury was called, all answering to their names and being present in the jury box.

W.A. Maxwell testified next. Maxwell was one of the party that came to the Retreat after Bennett had ridden to Middletown to sound the alarm. Hudson, the Defense lawyer, objected. Grounds for the objection were complicated. Maxwell wished to speak of matters that Riche had told him about W.R. McGuyer, found dead on the front porch of the Camper’s Retreat.  McGuyer had been shot by persons unknown during the melee.

 Lawyer Hudson claimed the Court Reporter had fallen down on his job.

“’The Court Reporter failed to certify the transcript of evidence of Guyer’s death by murder. Further, the Reporter had neglected to fill out, in shorthand, the evidence testimony supporting Guyer’s murder,” he stated.

It was a tempest in a teapot. The objection was overruled.

The remainder of the day was spent hearing B.F. Staley’s testimony. Staley swore that he heard Mrs. Riche speak before she died. Whatever Staley said was so self-serving the court did not allow that testimony.

Blackburn, one of the ringleaders, was in the dock. John Francis was part of the gang. As part of the people’s case against Blackburn, John Francis was called to speak. John Francis was Blackburn’s friend, and he did not want to testify against Blackburn.  He was not part of the raid because he had been talked out of going by his wife.

Clay Taylor: “What did Blackburn say to you at that time in regards to the crime at the Camper’s Retreat?

John Francis: “I decline to answer as my answer might have a tendency to incriminate me.”

The jury was excluded from the courtroom. The argument was heard by the court by the Council for the witness and Council for the people on the matter of refusal of a witness to answer the question. The jury was brought back into the courtroom.

John Francis was instructed by the court as to his rights to answer questions. Witness again refused to answer questions. Whereupon he was informed by the court that he was in contempt of court in refusing to obey its order, and it was the duty of the court to banish him for such contempt.

Henry Arkarro was called next. Like John Francis, because his testimony could convict him of a felony, Arkarro refused to answer questions, and Arkarro was ordered imprisoned in the County jail.

 Charles Osgoodwas called.

The prosecution asked, “Did you not say that Blackburn said to you, ‘Charley, I have just found the thing to make masks. It is flour sacks.’

 The defendant objected to the question.

Osgood was next asked where he was on the night of the crime. He answered, “I had been resting.”

The court instructed the witness to answer more fully. After refusing to elaborate on his answer, the court found Osgood in contempt, and, like the others, he was jailed.

Council for the people by C.W. Taylor, McDougal, and councils for the witness Hudson and Assistant District Attorney Taylor, proposed a fifteen-minute recess to address the witness. After fifteen minutes, the clerk convened the courtroom. Sheriff Boggs was presentto make sure the witness did not flee since Witness Francis and Arkarro had already been promised imprisonment. John Francis, the witness, again was called to the witness stand.

Again, he was asked the same question, “What did Blackburn say to you at that time?

By this time, the defendants were tired of prison, and they were frightened. They all turned State’s Evidence in a rush to get themselves some sort of deal.

Next episode, The Raider’s Plans are revealed at last.

© 2017 PAL PUBLISHING/USED BY PERMISSION

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visit Gene’s website; http://genepaleno.com/

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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