JAMES D. BAKER MURDER - 1854
February 3, 2011 Contact Myrtle Bridges
Fayetteville Observer March 27, 1854; Issue 1921; Col. C
On Thursday, Wm. Wallace, and Daniel Norton were tried for the murder of Jas. D. Baker on 9th Dec. last. Albert Wright, charged in the
same indictment, had fled and had not been arrested. The evidence disclosed a most brutal murder, the deceased having been found on the
morning after its perpetration, horribly mutilated. There were two eye witnesses of the scene, John P. Wright, examined on the part of
the State, and Christian Norton for the defense.
Wright testified, that Wallace shot Baker with a pistol, then knocked him down twice--that Norton led him off to the house, when Albert
Wright came out, took Baker's double barreled gun, broke it over the deceased, and soon after went off.
The witness admitted he had sat upon the Coroner's inquest and never disclosed these facts to either of the Jury or any body else; that
he had been indicted for housebreaking--but was not convicted.
Christian Norton testified that Baker shot at Wallace that his new hat was shot through the rim; that he then knocked deceased down with
a stick, when Norton led him off. That Albert Wright was in the house when the gun fired, and said Baker had shot him; that he ran out,
took Baker's gun, knocked him down, broke the gun, and then with the barrels struck him several blows. That the locks of the gun were upon
the barrel part with which he struck. That he said he had killed the rascal took his horse and rode off.
Stafford Gibson testified that he saw Wright riding off with the barrels of a gun in his hand--answering the description given by Christian
The deceased was allowed to remain in the open air during all of that inclement sleety night--and that no surgeon had been called in to
ascertain whether the wound was inflicted by a bullet or not.
The Defendant's Counsel exhibited the hat of Wallace, which it was alleged Baker riddled with shot; and the clothes the deceased had worn--
and submitted it as a fact to be ascertained by the Jury, whether shot of any kind had passed through those clothes--that they were riven,
torn, frazzled; whereas shot would have cut a smooth hole--and contended the wound in the side was inflicted by the top of the hammer of
the lock, when Albert Wright was striking with the barrels of the gun. The Solicitor contended it was shot--one have penetrated, while
another had shot off one finger and bruised the other, and had spent their force ere they reached the body.
The defense by A.R. Kelly and J.W. Cameron, Esquires was skilful, able and ingenious, and their appeals for an extension of mercy to the
prisoners in cases of doubt such as the present, where it appeared one of the parties had fled, where strongly enforced. The prosecution
by the solicitor was conducted with much ingenuity and ability; his speech was a fine specimen of forensic eloquence, and made a solemn
impression on all present.
His Honor submitted the facts to the Jury, in a condensed and able charge. The Jury remained out all night, and on Friday morning returned
a verdict of "Not Guilty."
Whereupon, his Honor bound them over to next superior court, to give evidence against Albert Wright.
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