WALL FALLS: PART TWO
Thursday morning, the trial of Wall Hatfield was promptly in session. The second day of testimony brought out another large crowd to see James McCoy take the oath. He was the oldest son of Randolph McCoy. He once stood in front of Devil Anse’s Henry Rifle, refusing to pay homage before the older man. He was still ruggedly handsome at forty years of age with a strong, forthright manner. His voice had a booming masculine timber, which helped make him sound like an earnest witness.
`“Mister McCoy, please tell us what happened on August 9th, 1882. This was the day your three brothers were murdered, was is not?” Inquired Ferguson.
“Objection your honor, the demise of the McCoy brothers has not yet been proven to be a case of murder in a court of law,” Gaynor stated indignantly.
Ferguson turned to the judge, raised his hands in the air and smiled sarcastically. “Well your honor, if they weren’t murdered then it was the worse case of suicide I have ever heard of.” The courtroom erupted with laughter after the prosecutor’s remark.
Judge Rice had to cover his mouth to hide his own laughter. “Mister Gaynor, I think we can safely say the McCoy brothers met their demise at the hands of others. Your objection is overruled.”
Ferguson repeated his original question. “Mister McCoy, please tell us what happened on that terrible August Day.”
“I remember the day Sir. I tried to stay close to my brothers all along but the Hatfields had so many men guarding them. I couldn’t get in to see them; and like everyone else, I waited.”
“Waited for what?”
“I waited for news about Ellison Hatfield.”
“Why, Mister McCoy, what news were you waiting for?”
“News about whether or not he was going die. You see, Wall and Anse Hatfield were sitting around like vultures waiting for the man to die. That way, they figured they could kill my brothers with a clear conscience.”
“Objection your honor,” Gaynor interrupted. “The witness is speculating on my client’s thoughts and motivations.”
“Objection sustained. Mister McCoy, would you please give your testimony based on statements of fact and not opinion,” the Judge advised.
“Anyway, when the Hatfields heard the news about their brother, they were on the move. I went to my uncle’s house, waiting to see what would happen next. On the road to my Uncle Asa’s place, I saw Wall and Elias Hatfield, Ellison Mounts and one of the Mahon boys. I wished that there had been some way to help my brothers, but there was too many of them,” James explained. As he sadly looked down at the floor for a moment, the courtroom sympathized with his sense of loss. “While I was waiting at my uncle’s place, me and him heard shots fired; about fifty of them. Asa and me gathered up a couple of men and we went over towards where the shots were heard. That’s when we found them.”
“Tell us what you saw Mister McCoy?”
“My brother’s dead bodies, that’s what we saw. They were tied to some paw paw trees and hanging in the wind.
The sound of spectator voices buzzed through the courtroom. Ferguson confidently looked over at his opponent. “Your witness Mister Gaynor.”
The large attorney walked over, and in an attempt to intimidate him, looked James straight in the eye. “Mister McCoy, did you see who shot your brothers?”
“No sir I didn’t. I did see Wall and Elias Hatfield, Ellison Mounts and Plyant Mahon headed for Mate Creek, about twenty minutes before I heard shots fired. I don’t expect they was headed for a barn dance,” answered James.
“Whether or not they were attending a barn dance, a church social or picnic is not my concern. Now I asked you if you saw who saw shot your three brothers. All I need is a yes or no answer to that question.”
James McCoy’s face became red with exasperation. “No, I did not.”
“I have no further questions for this witness at this time your honor,” Gaynor said. The defense attorney felt satisfied that none of the witnesses had been able to place his client at the scene of the shooting. The eldest McCoy brother was now excused from the witness stand; but his testimony had done little to impress the jury.
The commonwealth of Kentucky called several other people, who verified what the three McCoys had said. Late that afternoon, the bailiff swore in Joe Davis to give testimony regarding his brief encounter with the Hatfields.
“Mister Davis, you met Wall and Devil Anse Hatfield on the road to Mate Creek on August ninth didn’t you?” Asked Lee Ferguson.
“Yes I did Sir.” Davis answered.
“What were the circumstances of this meeting?”
The Hatfield brothers got word to me that they wanted to talk.”
“Talk, talk about what Mister Davis?”
“They wanted to talk about the killing of their brother. You see, I was at Jeremiah Hatfield’s place on Election Day and saw what happened to Ellison. Wall wanted to know if the young one took part in the stabbing.”
Ferguson walked towards the jury box. “The young one Wall Hatfield was referring to was Randolph McCoy Junior?”
“Yes sir,” replied Davis.
“And what did you tell him Mister Davis?”
“I told him that he did.”
Ferguson now stepped over to the jury box and placed his hands on the railing. “Mister Davis, why would Wall Hatfield ask you such a question?”
“He needed to know because he was fixing to shoot the other two brothers; and he didn’t want to shoot the boy if he didn’t have any part,” Davis replied.
“Of course, how noble of him” Ferguson quickly responded.
A red faced Gaynor now stood up yelling. “I object your honor, in the strongest possible terms. The prosecutor is providing commentary on testimony in the most mocking and frivolous way. A statement I might add, that is purely conjecture and not a matter of fact.”
Judge Rice banged his gavel to silence the courtroom. “Objection sustained, Mister Ferguson please refrain from any more melodramatic remarks during the remainder of this proceeding, Ferguson bowed to the judge. “My apologies your honor. I have no more questions for this witness.”
Gaynor maintained his strategy, repeating the same question he had asked all prior witnesses. He remained at the defense table, seated next to Wall Hatfield. He looked down at his notepad, never making eye contact with Davis while he doodled with his pen. “Mister Davis, did you see Wall Hatfield shoot Tolbert, Pharmer and Randolph McCoy Junior?”
“I did not.”
“Did Wall Hatfield ever state that he was going to kill those boys, without a trial?”
“No sir, he did not,” Davis replied.
“So you really can’t say for sure, why Wall Hatfield asked you about Randolph Junior’s complicity, in the killing of Ellison Hatfield, can you Mister Davis?”
“No, I can’t be absolutely positive.”
“Thank you Mister Davis, I have no further questions for this witness,” the defense attorney said confidently.
Thus far, Gaynor had been able to prove to the jury, that Wall Hatfield had not been at the scene of the shooting. That was until the Whitt brothers took to the witness stand. Dan and Jeff had gladly cut a deal with the commonwealth prosecutor selling out the Hatfield defendents to save their own skins. For this testimony, second chair prosecutor S.G. Kinner took over from Lee Ferguson.
Jeff was the first up, testifying that Wall Hatfield was at the murder scene. “He swore the participants to an oath of secrecy. He threatened every man there with a necktie party, if they broke that oath,” said Jeff. After his testimony, Jeff's brother Dan took the stand.
While Kinner questioned them in great detail, Gaynor carefully observed the testimony of the Whitt’s. They were a real danger to his client, as they were the only people on the witness list that had been at the scene of the shooting. Gaynor continued to look for any hole in their statements. After several hours of grueling testimony, he found one.
For their day in court, Kinner had both the brothers dress up in pressed white shirts with black suspenders. They were young, clean-shaven and appeared to be fine, upstanding young men. It was the intention of the prosecutor that the jury perceived the Whitts as contrite, misguided lads led astray by the Hatfields. The reformed siblings could now correct their mistake by testifying against Wall and the others.
Braxton Gaynor was now ready to perform his cross examination. As an old soldier, it was his goal to outflank each hostile witness during their testimony. He was a born strategist and he loved to fight. This applied during his glory days on the battlefield or his time in the courtroom. For him, winning was everything; and if he served justice that was all the better.
“Mister Whitt, you stated that Wall Hatfield was on the Kentucky side of the Tug Fork, near Mate Creek; and, that he was present at the killings of Tolbert, Pharmer and Randolph McCoy,” Gaynor restated for the record.
“That’s right sir,” Whitt answered with a nod.
“You further state that Wall swore you and the other men present to an oath of secrecy. Is that correct?”
“Yep, that’s what I said.”
“Well that all seems clear enough. Mister Whitt, you have stated that Wall Hatfield was going to exact revenge if his brother died,” Gaynor paused for a response from the witness.
“Yeah, I said that too.”
Mister Whitt, why did you ride along with the Hatfields that day?”
Before the witness answered, Kinner spoke first. “Objection your honor, Mister Whitt is not on trial today.”
“Mister Kinner, I’m going to allow the witness to answer that question. Objection overruled,” Judge Rice informed the surprised prosecutor.
“In other words, you had no ill feelings towards the McCoys.”
The witness loosened his shirt collar. “They killed a man, who was kin to my friends.”
“But the McCoys never did anything to you to make you want to kill them?”
“No sir, they didn’t” responded Whitt.
“Yet by your own sworn testimony, you stood by and watched the boys get killed,” Gaynor stated.
“Yes sir, I did and I’m sorry for that.”
“Did you shoot the McCoys yourself Mister Whitt?”
“No sir, I told you, I just watched,” the witness answered, with a hint of irritation.
“You just stood there, when all the other men started blasting away? Come on Dan, I’ve been on the battlefield many times with guns and cannon blazing away. It’s exciting when a man has a loaded gun in his hands. Didn’t you want to shoot those boys too?”
“Your honor, I must object to this line of questioning. The defense counselor is being argumentative. The witness has already answered the question and is now being prodded into admitting to something he didn’t do,” Kinner protested.
“Counselor, as his client is on trial for murder, I’m going to allow defense counsel the greatest possible latitude in his cross examination of this witness. Mister Whitt you will please answer Mister Gaynor’s question.
“I’ll repeat the question.” Gaynor slyly smiled. “With all the other men firing their weapons, didn’t you want to shoot those boys?”
“No sir! I did not,” Whitt answered indignantly.
Gaynor briefly lost his train of thought. He walked over to his table, looking down at his notebook for a moment. He turned around, looked at the witness and paused.
“Mister Gaynor, do have any further questions for the witness?” Asked Judge Rice.
“Yes your honor I do,” The defense quickly rebounded. “Mister Whitt, who shot the McCoys?”
“I recollect it was Devil Anse, Cap, Johnse and Bill Hatfield,” answered Whitt.
“Who else was there?”
“If I recall, it was Alex Messer, Tom Chambers and Charlie Carpenter.”
“Did Wall Hatfield fire upon the McCoys?”
“No sir, but he gave the order to.”
“Mister Whitt, your brother Jeff testified that four men left before the shooting started. Do you recall the names of these four gentlemen?” Gaynor innocently inquired.
“Yes, it was Joe Murphy, Moses Christian, Plyant and Doc Mahon,” Whitt responded confidently.
Gaynor moved towards the witness. “Joe Murphy, Moses Christian, Plyant and Doc Mahon; and you’re absolutely certain that’s who left the scene at Sulphur Creek?”
“Yes Sir I am.”
Mister Whitt, your brother Jeff testified that it Sam Mahon who left the scene. Are you sure it wasn’t Sam and not Plyant Mahon who left?”
“Well, I think so,” Whitt tentatively answered.
“You think so, but you’re not absolutely certain, are you Mister Whitt?
“I reckon not.”
“You reckon not. Still, you can say with absolute certainty that my client was at the sight of the killings?” Gaynor asked mockingly.
The defense attorney once again walked over to read his notes, as there was one more question he wanted to remember. “Mister Whitt, would you tell the jury, how you have avoided prosecution for your complicity in this affair?” He petulantly requested.
“Yes sir, I made a deal with Mister Kinner over there, in trade for me spilling the beans about the Hatfields,” Whitt replied.
The courtroom spectators responded with thundering laughter when they heard Whitt’s honest answer.
Lee Ferguson quickly stood up and interrupted the proceedings. “Your honor may I speak to this issue?”
“Make it brief counselor, its Mister Gaynor’s nickel,” Rice answered.
“Gentleman of the jury, the Whitt’s were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony. However, the commonwealth of Kentucky believes in the integrity of their testimony; otherwise we would not have granted them exemption from prosecution.”
“Thank you for your endorsement of Mister Whitt’s testimony counselor. Now, may defense counsel finish his cross-examination of the witness?” Rice asked rhetorically.
“Oh course your honor,” Ferguson said shrugging his shoulders.
Gaynor looked up from his seat and addressed the judge. “I think the jury understands what this man’s testimony is worth. I have no further questions for him,” he said contemptuously.
Back at his hotel, Thomas Kelly put the finishing touches on his daily dispatch. He was supplying reports about the trial to increasing numbers of fascinated Globe readers. “Today Braxton Gaynor demonstrated why he is nicknamed ‘The Fighting Confederate’. He ably dispatched the so-called eyewitness for the prosecution, a good-looking young man named Dan Whitt. It looks like the prosecution will have to work a little harder to get a conviction in this case,” Kelly concluded. After work, the reporter walked down to get some dinner.
Kelly decided to have supper and a drink at the Pikeville Station, which was a local saloon and eatery. He sat alone at the inlaid, iron bar that overlooked the restaurant. His thoughts turned to Debbie Ferris, but he knew that she was probably working.
While he awaited his roast beef sandwich, Kelly looked across the room and noticed a short, handsome man wearing a deputy’s badge. He dressed in black jeans with a beautiful gray button flapped shirt. On his feet the man wore black cowboy boots with silver studs. At his hip, he wore short barreled Colt revolver.
Though he had never met him, the reporter recognized Frank Phillips from his photograph. The celebrated fire-eater was in the company of an attractive young woman in a long blue dress. She had soft features, surrounded by silky brown hair. Kelly quickly drank his shot of bourbon, grabbed his beer and walked over to where the couple was sitting.
The blue eyed deputy calmly looked up at the New Yorker, as he approached the table. “You must be Frank Phillips,” Kelly said excitedly.
“Yes I am; who the hell are you?”
“I’m Thomas Kelly of the New York Globe. May I join you and your companion?”
Phillips hesitated for a few seconds then motioned to Kelly to sit. “Sure, why not, seeing as you’re here all the way from New York.” Phillips gently touched the woman’s shoulder. Mister Kelly, this is my fiancee Nancy McCoy.”
The anxious reporter reached out to lightly grasp the hand of the former Misses Hatfield. “I’m charmed to make your acquaintance Miss McCoy,” he replied. Kelly could not help briefly staring at the woman, as her good looks impressed him. He remembered from his research she had once been married to Johnse Hatfield. He also knew that she was the woman that came between the young Romeo and Roseanna McCoy. And worse yet, that they were cousins.
“Would you like a drink Kelly?” Phillips politely asked.
“Mister Phillips, the only time an Irishman says no to a drink, is when you ask him if he’s had enough,” Kelly answered.
“Ha! I’ll take that to mean yes Kelly. Two whiskeys and a glass of wine Rebecca,” Phillips yelled at the waitress. “Now, what can I do for you?”
“My readers would like to hear from the man who captured the Wall Hatfield and his men. After I get done telling the readers about you, you’ll be a household name.” The reporter boasted.
“Sort of like Sears and Roebuck eh."
“More like Buffalo Bill.”
Phillips raised his whiskey glass. “Except I don’t wear a white hat.”
“Who really does in this world?” Kelly asked rhetorically. “Now, tell me about how you rounded up the Hatfield Gang.”
“Well Kelly, there’s not much to tell, most of them so called bad men came along as gentle as lambs.”
“Not all of them?” Kelly asked, flipping open his note pad.
“No, not all of them. Jim Vance gave me a bit of an argument. However, his uncooperative disposition was greatly improved after proper ventilation.” Phillips glibly answered.
“Is that the instrument of ventilation?” Kelly asked, pointing down at Phillip’s revolver.
“Plays quite a tune Kelly, you should hear it sometime.”
“I understand several men have heard that tune Mister Phillips.”
“Now were exchanging politeness eh Kelly? With a deadpan face, Phillips looked straight into the reporter’s eyes. I know you’re a fancy Yankee newspaperman; but what you mean to say is that I’ve killed men.”
Kelly nervously nodded in agreement. “Sorry if I gave offense.”
“Don’t worry Kelly, I’ll sleep like a baby tonight. I didn’t shoot anyone that didn’t need killing.”
Kelly had not expected Frank Phillips to be so direct. “I was told about your fight with some drifters in Kansas. Perry Cline told me the story. He says that you killed all three without getting up from your dinner.”
“You can’t believe everything Perry tells you, he has a habit of spinning a yarn.”
“You must be pretty fast with that gun of yours,” Kelly said like a schoolboy.
“I’m faster than most; but what counts is that I hit what I aim for. When I look down the barrel of another man’s gun, I don’t think about getting killed. Are you afraid to shake off your mortal coil? I hear you newspaper boys lead dangerous lives.”
Kelly laughed nervously. “Yeah, I’m going leave this world kicking and screaming. And, the only hazard I face is whether or not my grammar’s good.” The reporter took a sip of his beer. “What about the men you’re still looking for? What about Devil Anse? When are you going after him?”
“I don’t know. He’s a real hard case, that son of a bitch; and he’s much smarter than the rest. Built himself a little stronghold, out in the middle of nowhere; and from what I’ve heard, it could only be taken with a lot of guns. I don’t much like the odds. You would have to catch him off guard and that’s not likely to happen,” Phillips replied.
The waitress came to the table to drop off a round of drinks. Kelly reached into his wallet and Phillips quickly motioned his hand. “Drinks are on me tonight.”
Kelly bowed in acknowledgement of the deputy’s gesture. “To your health sir and you too ma’am,” he said turning to Nancy. “I think you’re right Mister Phillips. I was up at his place a few weeks back. I talked with that old man for about four hours. I wouldn’t want to tangle with him.”
Phillips quickly downed his bourbon. “Oh, you’re the one who knocked around one of his boys. I heard about that. I knew there was something I liked about you Kelly,” he said patting the writer on his back.
Kelly began to blush and quickly changed the subject. “Mister Phillips, don’t take offense by this question, but how do you feel about being a wanted man in West Virginia?”
“It’s ridiculous. Sort of the pot calling the kettle black isn’t it. I’m a lawman who did his job and did it well. Now West Virginia says I’m wanted for going into their state to arrest a bunch of killers. It’s ridiculous. That’s a job they should have done.”
Nancy McCoy had sat quietly, listening to the two men chat. She began rubbing her new lover’s shoulder and decided to join in on the conversation. “Mister Kelly, I don’t know what you’re fixing to write in your newspaper; but I’ll tell you one thing, you’re sitting next to a man, a real man. I happen to know the difference between a man and a boy.”
“You mean Johnse Hatfield, don’t you?” Kelly boldly asked.
The pretty girl grinned with satisfaction. “I sure do; and I’m happy to say, I fixed that little mistake. All the Hatfields are scared to death of my man, but I know the truth. He’s just a pussycat.” The smitten woman kissed her man on the cheek.
Phillips shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “What can I say? I aim to please, but don’t print that part about me being a kitty cat in your paper Kelly. Not unless you want your name in…what do they call it when you pass on?”
“The obituary column,” Kelly answered obligingly.
“Yes, the obituary column,” Phillip agreed.
The following day, the Pikeville District Court was back in session. Braxton Gaynor conferred with his client, who wanted to take the stand in his own defense. “Wall, I think it’s a mistake putting you up on the stand. We got them on the run; and don’t need your testimony,” he protested.
Wall shifted in his chair. “I think the jury wants to hear me speak my peace. Otherwise, they’ll think I’m afraid. They want to hear me say I ain’t guilty; and that’s what I aim to tell them.”
Gaynor nodded in agreement. “You may just be the instrument of your own undoing, but it’s your neck. If you insist on going up on the stand, I’m not going stop you.”
After months in jail, Wall’s frame still looked fit and sturdy. His gray hair and bushy eyebrows gave him a kind, grandfatherly appearance. He laid his hand on the bible and swore to tell his version of the truth.
Gaynor paced the floor with the nervous energy of a caged lion. “Mister Hatfield, would you tell the court about the events that unfolded on August 8th and 9th, 1882,” he asked loudly.
“Well, after my brother Ellison was stabbed and shot, I assembled a group of eight men for the purpose of arresting the three McCoys. I took charge of them but only with the intention of taking them in for trial.” Wall looked out at the jury and the courtroom spectators, making eye contact with several of them. “You see, some men I didn’t know too well, or trust, were fixing to take them boys back to Pikeville. I couldn’t let that happen. It was much too dangerous to take those boys back to Pikeville. My wounded brother had a lot of friends who were mad about what the McCoys did to him.”
“Your honor, I object. What the McCoys did or didn’t do to Ellison Hatfield was never proven in a court of law,” said S.G. Kinner.
“Your honor, if it pleases the court, the defense can produce at least a dozen sworn statements from people who witnessed the McCoy brothers stab and shoot Ellison Hatfield,” Gaynor quickly responded.
“Your objection is overruled Mister Kinner,” Judge Rice answered.
“Mister Hatfield, please continue your testimony,” Gaynor instructed.
“Well, I told Mathew, Tolbert and Joseph Hatfield, that the McCoys should be tried in Blackberry Creek, cause that’s where the ruckus occurred,” Wall explained.
“So you did confer with the volunteer posse about your intention to see justice served.”
“Yes, it was always my intention that these boys get a fair trial.” Wall hung his head down for a moment. “I was awful sorry things didn’t work out that way, but I didn’t have anything to do with that. I figured the trial should be held in Blackberry Creek, So that testimony could be taken from several witnesses.”
“When did your brother Anderson Hatfield get involved?”
“He came along with his sons Cap and Johnse; and they were armed with Winchesters and Colts. They also had some other gunmen with them. My brother told all the men who were friends of the Hatfields to stand in line and take his part. He told me that he wanted to take the McCoys to Mate Creek, to an empty schoolhouse.”
For dramatic effect, Wall again hung his head down. “He didn’t give me any choice; he said he was taking them. I wasn’t happy with the idea, but my brother’s not a man you want to argue with, especially if he’s carrying a Winchester. Besides, he had enough men to back his play on anything he wanted.”
The defense attorney turned towards the court audience. “In fact, didn’t you try to save the McCoys from your brother’s vengeful wrath Mister Hatfield?”
“Yes I did. I told him them boys had to get a fair trial, after all I am a justice of the peace.”
“So you never made the statement that if your brother died the McCoys would too?”
“Never, I kept telling my brother that he shouldn’t take the law into his own hands. After all, I am a justice of the peace,” Wall repeated.
Kinner stood up from his table. “Objection your honor; the defendant has now twice stated that he is a justice of the peace. His so called vocation is not relevant to this case. Especially in light of the charges he stands accused of,” Kinner said indignantly.
“Your honor, my client’s occupation is very relevant to this case, as it goes to demonstrate his authority as a magistrate for what he deemed to be a local matter, “Gaynor argued.
“I’m going to allow the testimony as it stands Mister Kinner, your objection is overruled,” Judge Rice said in a monotone.
Gaynor barely concealed a smile at the judge’s decision. “To the best of your recollection, please tell the court what happened on August 9th, 1882.”
“My brother kept the three McCoys at the old schoolhouse; and our cousin the deacon came over for a visit. He talked about having a fair trial for the McCoys. I agreed with my cousin and told my brother that we needed to take the boys into town. When Ellison died, he just wasn’t going listen to reason. He said he was taking them boys back to Kentucky soil and finish it. There was nothing that I could do. I headed back to Mate Creek, towards my home. My other brother Elias came along too. When we were near Sulphur Creek, he had to answer the call of nature.”
There were snickers from several spectators in the court after Wall’s remark. Having been momentarily distracted, Gaynor missed what he had said. “I’m sorry Mister Hatfield you said something about nature’s call. Did your brother hear a bear or wolf?”
“No sir, I said he relieved himself,” Wall replied.
The Pikeville courtroom exploded with laughter. Judge Rice was smiling too but he still banged his gavel, asking for order in the court. Gaynor turned red but began laughing along with everyone else. He composed himself and asked Wall to continue his testimony. “Please continue telling the jury what happened sir.”
“Like I said, my brother answered the call of nature. While I was waiting on my horse, I heard about fifty gunshots coming from about a thousand yards away. I knew I shouldn’t have left them boys but I hadn’t the ways or means of stopping my brother.” Wall again scanned the courtroom. “He’s a powerful hard man to reason with when he makes up his mind to do something.”
“So you had nothing to do with killing those three boys, did you Mister Hatfield?” Gaynor asked loudly.
“No Sir I didn’t.”
With feelings of trepidation, the Fighting Confederate looked over at the jury and slowly turned towards the Judge. “I have no further questions your honor.”
“Your witness Mister Kinner,” announced Judge Rice.
S.G. Kinner dressed in a white suit with a black bow tie. He spoke in a slow, deliberate way. Standing up from his chair, he walked over to the witness box and with a distance of about eighteen inches; he stood face to face with Wall Hatfield.
“I’m sure were all quite impressed with your valiant attempts to serve Justice Mister Hatfield.”
Wall remained silent but bowed his head in agreement.
“Mister Hatfield, on August 9th 1882, Randolph McCoy claims that you told him that ‘If my brother dies, your sons will too.’ Mister Hatfield, is he a liar?”
“He most certainly is lying about that because I never said any such thing,” Wall adamantly declared.
Kinner displayed no emotion at the defendant’s righteous indignation. “Uh huh, I see. Mister Hatfield, on the same evening, Sarah McCoy claims you made that very same statement to her. Mister Hatfield, is Sarah McCoy a liar?”
“She’s lying too. What do you expect, she’s married to Old Ranel; and her boys were killed by my brother,” Wall replied.
“That’s very interesting Mister Hatfield, because Mary Butcher has made the same statement. You remember Mary Butcher, don’t you? She was married to the late Tolbert McCoy. You know, he’s one of the men that you stand accused of killing. Now she says she heard you make the same statement Randolph and Sarah heard.” Kinner reached down on the table and lifted three envelopes in his hand. “I have all of their sworn statements in my hand. Sir, Is Mary Butcher a liar too?
Wall shrugged his shoulders. “She must be lying, because I never said anything about killing those poor boys.”
“Why would Mary Butcher lie about that Mister Hatfield?”
“I don’t know. I know she lost her husband and I’m sorry for that; but they’re blaming me for something I didn’t do. I’m telling you, it was my brother’s doing.”
“Mister Hatfield, the court has heard the testimony of Dan and Jeff Whitt. Both of these men said you were present at the killings of the three McCoys. Both men say that after the murders, you demanded that the participants swear to an oath of secrecy. Mister Hatfield, are both of the Whitt brothers lying as well?”
Wall raised his voice. “Of course they’re lying. They’re lying to save their skins. I swore no man to any oath.”
Kinner stood with his back to Wall Hatfield, facing the twelve men in the jury box. He began to speak in a slightly louder voice. “Mister Hatfield, the commonwealth has the sworn statements of a dozen witnesses who saw you riding with your brother Anderson Hatfield towards Kentucky. All of the statements indicate that you were riding towards Sulphur creek during the time you had custody of the three McCoy brothers. This was approximately twenty minutes before these young men were shot.” The prosecutor pointed towards a stack of papers at his table. “The commonwealth also has a signed confession from your nephew Ellison Mounts.”
“He’s not my nephew!” shouted Wall Hatfield.
Kinner calmly ignored the witness, continuing his cross examination. “As I was saying, the commonwealth has the signed confession from Ellison Mounts, stating the he participated in the murders; and that you yourself, gave the command to kill the three McCoy brothers. Now are you going to tell me that he’s lying too?” he asked in a raised octave.”
Wall held himself in check and calmly answered the prosecutor. “What you have, is a confession from a half-witted boy that’s trying to save his own skin.”
Braxton Gaynor was unable to help his client. He wanted to object to Kinner’s cross examination, but he had no grounds to for doing so. All he could do was sit by and watch the defendant be dismantled piece by piece. For greater emotional impact, Kinner once again moved in close to Wall Hatfield’s face. “The commonwealth of Kentucky has three eye witnesses to the murders and several witnesses who heard you threaten the lives of Tolbert, Pharmer and Randolph McCoy. Can it possibly be that all these people have banded together, to orchestrate one big, fantastic story? Is it conceivable that these people lying Mister Hatfield?”
Wall looked Kinner straight in the eye and answered. “They must be,” he answered.
Kinner again turned his back to Wall and stood before the Jury. “Thank God that we have you to tell the truth Mister Hatfield.”
The next day, the Braxton Gaynor, called several character witnesses to speak in Wall’s defense. By the end of the day, the lawyers were ready to present their closing arguments. Wednesday morning of the following day, the opposing attorneys, spoke for one hour each. They both presented their final speeches in a clear, eloquent fashion. Both sides felt confident that they had won the contentious case. The Judge imparted instructions to the jury and they began their deliberation. After only four hours of reviewing the evidence, the twelve men reached a verdict. They found Wall Hatfield guilty. The following day the Judge sentenced him to life imprisonment.