CORONER'S INQUISITION, 1967-1980
Book 6
NEWBERRY COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
Transcribed and contributed by Edith Greisser

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and State aforesaid, the 9th day of April A. D., one thousand nine hundred and seventy, before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of ERNEST HELLER, then and there being dead by the oaths of William H. Nobles, Jr., Ronnie Sharpe, William E. Attaway, D. L. Turner, Dewitt Mills and Marion J. Wiggins, being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and sworn to inquire, for the State of South Carolina, where and by what means the said Ernest Heller came to his death, upon their oaths, do say Ernest Heller came to his death as the result of bullet wounds at the hands of George Wertz. We recommend George Wertz be held for Grand Jury investigation. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Ernest Heller came to his death in the manner aforesaid and recommend that George Wertz be held for Grand Jury investi­gation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner aforesaid, and the jurors aforesaid, to this inquisition, have set our hands and seals, the day and year aforesaid.

/s/ George R. Summer, Coroner (L.S.)
          /s/ William H. Nobles, Jr., Foreman (L.S

/s/ Ronnie Sharpe (L.S.)

/s/ William E. Attaway (L.S.)                                       /s/ Dewitt Mills (L.S.)

/s/ D. L. Turner (L.S.)                                                /s/ Marion J. Wiggins (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foreman stand and be sworn?
(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury, and members of the jury, were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen of the Jury, this is an inquisition into the death of Ernest Heller. It is your duty now to lis­ten to the testimony we have to offer in this case, and from this testi­mony, you will arrive at how Ernest Heller came to his death. If, you find someone else, other than the deceased, responsible for his death, you will recommend in your verdict that they be held for Grand Jury in­vestigation.

­COLIE KINARD, JR., being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    That is your right name, Colie Kinard, Jr.?

A.    That's right.

Q.    On January 30, this year, Colie, just in your own words, tell these gentlemen what you know about this shooting that night?

A.    He was drinking some wine.

Q.    Who was drinking wine?

A.    Ernest Heller. He was drinking wine and George told him to go out.

Q.    Who is George?

A.    George Wertz. Robert Lee told him he was going to pour it out. He said he wasn't going to ask him no more, so George come out from behind the counter and he shot. The first shot, he shot him in the back. He turned around and said, "George, I'm going to get you if it's the last thing I do." He started back toward the piccolo and he had a knife in his hand and he shot him again and when he shot again, the last shot, he shot him right beside the jaw and he fell.

Q.    You say he shot him in the back the first time?

A.    Yes, sir, he come out from behind the counter.

Q.    At that time, did Ernest Heller have a knife in his hand?

A.    No, sir, he didn't have it then, but when he turned around, he had it in his hand and he started back and that's when he shot him again.

Q.    After he shot him the first time, he got his knife out and started towards Wertz?

A.    That's right.

Q.    He shot him two more times?

A.    Yes, sir, he shot him right in there and right there.

Q.    Is that all the shots that were fired?

A.    That's right; three shots fired.

Q.    Well, did he shoot at him any time lying on the floor?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Do you know what kind of gun he used to shoot him?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    There hadn't been any kind of argument between them?

A.    Not as I knows of. I hadn't been in there that long.

Q.    And you say Ernest Heller was drinking some wine?

A.    That's right, and Robert Lee told him he was going to pour it out.

Q.    Did he buy that wine in there?

A.    He bought it in there.

Q.    He bought it in there?

A.    That's right. George had asked him to go out. He told him when he got through drinking the wine, he would go out.

Q.    Was he causing a disturbance to you?

A.    No, sir, not a bit.

Q.    No loud talking or anything?

A.    Not a bit.

CORONER SUMMER: Any questions you want to ask, Gentlemen? Is there anything else you can tell us about this?

THE WITNESS: No, sir.

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    All right, did you see Ernest Heller with a fire extinguisher?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Where did he get the gun from, Wertz?

A.    I think he got it out of his pocket.

Q.    Don't think; did you see him get the gun?

A.    He got it out of his pocket.

Q.    He got it out of his pocket?

A.    Yes, sir, and come from behind the counter. I was standing over there by the counter when he come out from behind the counter when he shot.

Q.    And Heller was standing with his back to him and he shot him in the back?

A.    Yes, sir, he was going towards the door.

Q.    Heller was going towards the door?

A.    Yes, sir, that's when he shot. He turned around and said, "George, I'm going to get you if it's the last thing I do." That's when he shot him again.

Q.    That's when he got his knife out and went towards him?

A.    Yes, sir. He started back towards him. The last shot he shot, he shot right there. That's when he fell.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.                           (Witness Excused.)

ZELDA MAE HOUSTON, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Zelda Mae, in your own words tell these Gentlemen of the Jury just what you know about this shooting on January 30.

A.    Well, I don't know what it all began about because I hadn't been in there but I was there when it happened. As far as I could see, he was on his way out the door and Scott was standing there in the floor, Robert Lee Scott, and he happened to catch him across the neck and throw up his leg against Scott's leg. Scott said, "Pap what you doing?" At that time George came from behind the counter with a pistol. He said, "Move out the way, Scott" and then he said, "Pap, didn't I tell you to get your damn ass out of here?" So Pap was standing over there by the wall. He was doing something like that (indicating) and at that time, George shot him. The first time he shot him, he spinned around. He was trying to hold up against the wall and then he shot him again and his back was turned and then he fell, and when he fell, he shot him again.

Q.    The first time, he didn't shoot him in the back?

A.    No, he shot him in the front and he spinned around and then he shot him in the back.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller with a fire extinguisher?

A.    No, I didn't see him.

Q.    Well, did you see a knife on Ernest Heller?

A.    No, I didn't see a knife, because he had his hands up like that.

Q.    You never did see a knife?

A.    No, I didn't.

Q.    Did Wertz order him out of the place?

A.    He told him, he said, "Didnít' t I tell you to get your damn ass out" and he was standing over there by the wall and he was about at the          door. I think he was going out, but slowly.

Q.    Was Ernest Heller raising a ruckus in there?

A.    No, he wasn't saying nothing, but I took him to be playing with Scott, you know, I thought he was playing.

Q.    Who is Scott?

A.    Robert Lee Scott. Right there, with the gray coat on.

Q.    Ernest Heller was playing with Scott?

A.    Yes, that's what I took it to be, the way he did. Looked like they was playing, didn't mean nothing, didnít look like it.

Q.    Is that why he shot him, because he w as tussling around with him?

A.    Yes, he was tussling around with Scott, and Scott said, "Pap, what the f--- you doing there?" and about that time George came out from behind the counter and he said, "Move out the way, Scott".

Q.    And you say he shot him again while he was lying on the floor?

A.    Yes, he shot him again while he was lying down; three shots made.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller drink anything in there?

A.    No, I didn't, because when I seen him, he was headed like he was going out the door.

Q.    How far were you from Ernest Heller when he got shot?

A.    Well, I was standing there at the piccolo and he was over there by the door, about at the trash can.

Q.    About how far was that?

A     Like I was here, he was about right over there; not too far apart.

CORONER SUMMER: Any questions? That will be all.                    (Witness Excused.)

DOROTHY DALE COUNTS, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Go ahead and tell these Gentlemen of the Jury what you know shooting on January 30th this year?

A.    I was standing over there by the piccolo, and Pap was on his way out.

Q.    Pap, is that Ernest Heller?

A.    Yes, sir. Scott came in and Ernest kind of like kicked at Scott and Scott said, "Man, what the f--- you mean?" just like that, and so George came out from behind the counter. He told Pap, said, "Man, I ordered you out one time. I want you to go out." Pap stood up, he didn't move and so George said, "Man, get the hell out" just like that, and so he shot and Pap whirled around and that's all I saw because I went behind the piccolo.

Q.    Where did he shoot him the first time, do you know? Was he facing him?

A.    Yes, he was.

Q.    And the next two shots, you were behind the piccolo?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Is that all you can tell us about it then?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Did you see a fire extinguisher in Ernest Heller's hands?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you see a knife?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    When you were behind the piccolo, you don't know whether he was on the floor when he shot him one time?

A.    No, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.                 (Witness Excused.)

­M. L. BOUKNIGHT, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Do you just have initials, or does M. L. stand for something?

A.    Just initials.

Q.    Go ahead and tell in your own words what you know about this on January 30th?

A.    Well, Pap and Scott, they w as standing over there arguing so George told him to get out so Pap, he didn't get out and George, he went back there and got a gun and come from behind the counter, so that's when he shot him.

Q.    How many times did he shoot him?

A.    Three times. The first time he shot him, he wheeled around.

Q.    First time he shot him, he wheeled around?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    He shot him while he was facing him?

A.    That's right.

Q.    Did he shoot him any time on the floor?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Was that the last time?

A.    That's right.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller with a fire extinguisher?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you see him with a pocket knife?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    This Wertz fellow, is that the one who owns the cafť? Who runs it?

A.    Thatís right.

Q.    And you say Ernest Heller and Scott were arguing?

A.    They wasn't arguing but you know, they were playing or some­thing?

Q.    Were they loud or naughty about anything?

A.    No sir.

Q.    Why did he want to order him out, then?

A.    I declare if I know.

Q.    He wasn't making any disturbance of anything?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller drink any wine in there?

A.    I tell you the truth, I haven't seen him drink none.

Q.    Well, that's what I want you to do, tell the truth and I don't to tell nothing else but the truth. What time was it when the shooting took place, approximately?

A.    Tell you the truth, I don't know.

Q.    Was it at night?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Was the place crowded?

A.    Wasn't too many in there.

Q.    Were they the only ones in there talking loud and playing around?

A.    Yes.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    No, sir.

CORONER SUMMER:       All right.                  (Witness Excused.)

FREDDIE LEE HOUSTON, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Were you in this cafe the night the shooting took place?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Freddie Lee, tell these gentlemen of the jury in your own words just what you know about this shooting?

A.    Well, Pap was standing--well, I'm getting mixed up.

Q.    Take your time, now. Nobody's rushing you.

A.    All I seen, when George come from behind the counter with the gun. He told Pap to get out, then he said it again, "Pap, get out". I think he started to shoot.

Q.    You think he started to shoot? I want you to tell me what you actually know, not what you think.

A.    Yes, sir, he shot and then he twirled around and I think he shot him again, then I believe he shot him on the floor.

Q.    You keep saying, "I think" or "1 believe". Now did he shoot him on the floor?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Now don't pay attention to them. This laughing and going on is going to stop. I mean it. I'm going to get them for contempt of court. I'm not going to put up with this. This is a man's life. Do you know approximately what time this shooting took place?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller drink anything in there?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you see him with a knife?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    How about a fire extinguisher?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you hear any argument between Heller and Scott?

A.    No, sir, I wasn't paying no attention.

Q.    Well, did you hear them arguing or anything?

A.    I wasn't paying no attention, no, sir.

Q.    You were with another party?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    But he did shoot him while he was on the floor, you are positive of that?

A.    Yes, sir, positive.

Q.    He shot him the first time, and he whirled around?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    He shot him again?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    And then he shot him on the floor?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Did you see George Wertz get the gun?

A.    No, sir, I didn't see that.

Q.    When he came out from behind the counter, he had the gun in his hand?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Well, did Ernest Heller say anything to him?

A.    No, sir, I ain't heard him.

Q.    Wertz had asked Heller to get out?

A.    Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.                 (Witness Excused.)

LARRY COOK, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    On January 30 this year, Larry, were you in this restaurant where Ernest Heller got shot?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    In your own words, just tell these Gentlemen of the Jury what you know about this case?

A.    I was standing over there at the counter and Heller came in. He had a fire extinguisher in his hand. He laid it up
        on the counter and Wertz walked up to the counter and told him to take it on the outside and he took it on the outside and he stayed out for about five or ten min­utes and he came back in. Wertz was at the back of the counter and his wife was at the front of the counter. Heller was looking at Wertz mumb­ling about "I'm going to get you" and well, Wertz' wife heard him and called Wertz up to the front and asked Heller what had he said about Wertz, and she said, "Didn't you say that you were going to get George?" He said, "Damn right" and George said, "I know the best thing for you to do, is to get on out on the outside" and Heller didn't exactly move then so Wertz said, "You don't have to go" and he got a dime and went back to call the police and Heller said, "Call them, I don't care" and when he found out Wertz was going to call the police, well, he went to run out the door and Robert Lee Scott was walking in the door. He hit at Robert Lee Scott and I heard Robert Lee Scott say, "What the hell do you mean" and Wertz' wife called George, said, "George, look at him now, he's over there messing with Scott." The next thing I know, Wertz was coming from behind the counter and told, Heller, said, "Didn't I tell you to get the hell out" and next thing I knew, he had fired the shots.

Q.    Did he shoot him in the back?

A.    No, Heller was facing him when he first shot him.

Q.    How many times did he shoot him?

A.    Three.

Q.    Did he shoot him while he was on the floor?

A.    Yes, he did.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller with a knife?

A.    No, I did not.

Q.    But he had taken the fire extinguisher in and then taken it on the outside and later came back?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    But he did not have any fire extinguisher when he came back the second time?

A.    No, he did not.

Q.    Is there anything else you cal tell us?

A.    No.

Q.    Do you know approximately what time this was?

A.    About 8:20.

CORONER SUMMER:  That will be all, thank you.                (Witness Excused.)

EMILY GILMORE, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Were you in this restaurant the night the shooting took place?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Where were you in this place?

A.    Well, I was sitting over there in the corner behind the door on the left side.

Q.    Just in your own words, just tell these Gentlemen of the Jury what you know about this shooting?

A.    Well, I was sitting down in the corner talking and so I happened to look over by the door and Ernest Heller came

        up over from the counter and Robert Lee Scott walked in the door and so Ernest Heller kind of kick­ed at Robert Lee Scott and so Robert Lee Scott, I heard him say, "What in the f--- you doing?" About this time, George Wertz came up from behind the counter and he told Pap, he said, "Pap, I done told you one time"--he told him first, "Get out of here, I don't told you one time to get out of here, I ain't telling you no more." Pap, he had his hands in this posi­tion like he was going out the door. He said, "I told you, Ernest, to go out of here,Ē and so Pap, he still wouldn't go out. This time, he was facing George and George, he fired once and Pap turned around like he was trying to hold up against the wall and he shot him again. This time he fell and so after he fell, George shot him again.

Q.    When he shot him the first time, did he have his hands up like this?

A.    No, sir, he didn't have his hands up the first time.

Q.    Did you see him with a fire extinguisher?

A.    No.

Q.    That's Heller?

A.    No, sir, I didn't see him with one.

Q.    Did you see him with a knife at any time?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Were you close enough to him that if he had a knife, you could have seen it?

A.    No, sir, I wasn't close to them because they was over by the trash can at the front door where people mostly come in and I was sitting over there in the corner.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    No, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.                 (Witness Excused.)

IRENE GILMORE, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Is your name Steve Gilmore?

A.    Irene Gilmore.

Q.    They call you Steve?

A.    Yes, they call me Steve.

Q.    Just in your own words tell these Gentlemen of the Jury what you know about this shooting?

A.    Well, I was sitting over on the other side and when I looked up, I seen Scott and George in the door--Scott and
        Pap, and Pap, which is Mr. Heller, he got Scott on the shoulder and he said, "What the hell you doing?" So George heard it and he told Pap, he said, "Get out" so he told him again, so he wouldnít' t go out so he shot him. He shot him first, then he whirled around to the wall, then he shot him in the back then he fell, then he shot him again.

Q.    Was he on the floor that time?

A.    Yes, he was on the floor that time.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller with a knife?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Were you close enough to have seen a knife?

A.    Yes, sir, I was close enough.

Q.    Why did he want him to get out?

A.    I really don't know.

Q.    Was him and Scott tussling?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    There wasn't any fighting or any kind of arguing?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Did you see Ernest Heller drink anything in there?

A.    No, sir, I didn't.

Q.    Did you see him with a fire extinguisher?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    No, that's all I know.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.       (Witness Excused.)

­ROBERT LEE SCOTT, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Were you in this cafe when this shooting took place?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Where were you?

A.    I had been out on the street emptying a can and I was coming back in the door.

Q.    Just tell us in your own words what you know?

A.    Well, when I came back in the door, he grabbed me--­

Q.    Who grabbed you?

A.    Heller. Kicked me on my leg, hit me on my shoulder and I passed that up and I went over and stood up on the

        scales up there. I heard George when he told him to get out, but I didn't know what was gone on before that and he kept telling him to get out and next thing I know, Heller was going towards the door. He had a knife in his left hand and when he got, I would say about four feet from the door, he whirled around and told George he wasn't going no damned where and he started back toward George, and that's the time I heard the shot. I was standing right there on the scale.

Q.    How many times did George shoot him?

A.    The first shot, he shot him one time, when he hit him that time he hit the floor and when he hit the floor, he shot him again and then I went over to the next door and he was laying there and I stayed over next door until the ambulance come and I come back over there. When I got back over there, he was laying on the floor with the knife laying beside him.

Q.    Why was he kicking and fighting at you?

A.    I mean, he played with everybody like that. You don't know when he's playing and when he ain't. That's just like going in somebody's house. If I go in your house and you order me out and I turned around come back at you, I figure that's self-defense.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    No, sir, no more than the last thing I seen in there was when the Chief came in and he took his pocket handkerchief and picked up the knife.

Q.    Did you see Heller with a fire extinguisher?

A.    No, sir, I wasn't in there at the time.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.                 (Witness Excused.)

ANDREW F. SHEALY, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Mr. Shealy, what position do you hold?

A.    Police Officer, City of Newberry.

Q.    On January 30, did you go around to this cafe where this shoot­ing had taken place?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Just tell these Gentlemen just what you know about this shooting?

A.    Between 8:00 and 8:30 I believe, I arrived around there. I for­get just the exact time. I have it put down but I don't

        have it with me. When I got there, Chief Schumpert had arrived just before I did. He had a knife in his hand that he had picked up beside the body of Ernest Heller. He also had the gun that George Wertz had given them. That night, I

didn't talk with George any but about a week later, I talked with him in the presence of his attorney, Mr. Stone at Mr. Stone's office and he gave me a statement.

He said that Ernest Heller came into the place with a fire extinguisher and threatened to shoot him in his eyes. He told him to go on out of the place, that if he shot the fire extinguisher in his eyes, he was going to hurt him. He went out and came back in and he was mumbling something about what he was going to do to him. He asked him to leave again. He said he didn't leave, and he called for the police. Before the police came, George and he went around out into the area there where the tables are to clean off some cans and Pap came up, that's Ernest Heller, had a knife in his hand and started towards him and he shot him. He said he told him to go ahead on three times and that he shot him when he came up on him with the knife. That's about the statement he gave me.

Q.    What kind of gun w as this?

A.    I believe it was a .32. We have the gun down there. We sent it down for ballistic test to see if the fatal shots were fired from this gun and the report came back that the gun did fire the shots that were taken out of Ernest Heller.

Q.    This happened in Newberry County?

A.    Yes, sir.

BY JUROR: Did the knife he picked up have fingerprints of Pap?

THE WITNESS: Couldn't get any fingerprints off of the knife.

CORONER SUMMER: That will be all.              (Witness Excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"April 9,1970. Re: Ernest Heller. To Whom it May Concern:

This middle aged Negro male was seen by me in the Newberry County Hospital Emergency Room on January 30, 1970 and pronounced dead on arrival. There were two small caliber gunshot wounds of entry present on the anterior chest. One was located in the 1st  intercostal space on the left, just at the edge of the sternum. The second was located in the ninth intercostal space at the posterior axillary line on the left. There was one wound of exit located 2 cm. to the right of the spine at the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra. The eleventh rib was fractured on the right side 3 cm. from the spine and the second bullet was felt to be embedded in this rib.

Cause of death was multiple bullet wounds of the chest. No autopsy was performed.

Respectfully submitted, William W. King, Jr., M.D."

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen of the Jury, you have heard the witnesses that are involved in this case tonight. It is now your duty to retire to the jury room to pass your verdict on how Ernest Heller came to his death. You will insert the dead person's name, by what means he met his death and by whose hands. If you find that someone else other than the deceased was responsible for his death, you will recommend that they be held for Grand Jury investigation. You will now retire to the jury room to pass your verdict. (Whereupon, the jury retired and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom and delivered the following verdict, concurred in by all jurors:)

"Ernest Heller came to his death as the result of bullet wounds at the hands of George Wertz. We recommend George Wertz be held for Grand Jury investigation."

 (Whereupon, the inquisition was concluded.)

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and State aforesaid, the 9th day of April A. D., one thousand nine hundred and seventy, before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of ESSIE SUBER, then and there being dead by the oaths of William H. Nobles, Jr., Ronnie Sharpe, William E. Attaway, D. L. Turner, Marion J. Wiggins and Dewitt Mills, being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and sworn to inquire, for the State of South Carolina, where and by what means the said Essie Suber came to her death, upon their oaths, do say Essie Suber came to her death as the result of bullet wound at the hands of Willie Albert Robinson. We recom­mend that Willie Albert Robinson be held for Grand Jury investigation. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Essie Suber came to her death in the manner aforesaid, and recommend that Willie Albert Robinson be held for Grand Jury investi­gation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner aforesaid, and the jurors aforesaid, to this inquisition, have set our hands and seals, the day and year aforesaid.

                                                                                /s/ George R. Summer, Coroner (L.S.)
                                                                                /s/ William H. Nobles, Jr., Foreman (L.S.

/s/ Ronnie Sharpe (L.S.)

/s/ William E. Attaway (L.S.)                                                 /s/ Marion J. Wiggins (L.S.)

/s/ D. L. Turner (L.S.)                                                          /s/ Dewitt Mills (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

­CORONER SUMMER: Will the Foreman of the Jury stand and be sworn? (Whereupon, the Foreman of the Jury, and members of the Jury, were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen of the Jury, this is an inquisition into the death of Essie Suber. You will now listen to the testimony we have to offer in this case, and from this testimony, you will arrive at how Essie Suber came to her death. When you find how she came to her death, you will insert the name of the deceased, what instru­ment she was killed with and by whose hands she met her death, whether by herself or someone else. If by someone else, you will recommend in your verdict that they be held for Grand Jury investigation.

VIRGIL FREE, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    On the night of April 4 this year, were you in the company of Essie Suber?

A.    Yes, I was.

Q.    In your own words, just tell what you know about this death of Essie Suber.

A.    The only thing I know, we was in Pomaria and we got this Fleming boy, Essie did, got this Fleming boy to bring us home. He brought us home and let us out in the yard. I got out of the car.

Q.    Is this Essie's home?

A.    Yes. I got out of the car and Fleming got out of the car and Essie got out of the car and Willie Albert got out of the car.

Q.    Is that Robinson?

A.    Yes sir.

Q.    He came from Pomaria with you all?

A.    Yes, sir, and they started talking, and going on. I thought he was teasing and so Essie, you know, got like she was
        playing at him or hitting at him or something. I don't know whether she had anything in her hand or not, so he was backing up off of her. I would say he backed up about fifty feet and there's like a little bench there and he fell over the bench. The next thing, the only thing I heard next was "pow" and she ran back to the car where I was standing, me and Fleming and she fell. My middle name is Bus and she called me Bus. She said, "Bus, I'm shot" and I said, "Oh, girl, you're kidding." She said, "Yes, I am, Bus." I saw she was serious. I went and knocked on the door, the daughter's door. They live together. I knocked on the door and tried to wake her up. It took a little time, I would say about two minutes, she woke up and I told her, I said, "Your mama's out here shot, open the door and let me bring her in." Then I picked her up in my arms and brought her in and laid her down on the bed.

Q.    About what time was this?

A.    I'd say about 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock.

Q.    You s aid they were picking at each other. Did you see a knife?

A.    It was dark. I couldn't say.

Q.    Were you in the car or outside the car?

A.    I was outside the car.

Q.    They were outside the car when they started picking?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Were they arguing about anything?

A.    I really thought he was teasing her.

Q.    Was she arguing about something he had done?

A.    She was, you know, like people just cursing each other. I thought teasing.

Q.    Was he with you all down at Pomaria?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Where in Pomaria were you?

A.    I think it was around--I don't know too much about where it was. Iíve been away from here a long time. It was

        somewhere down in Pomaria.

Q.    Is it a house, or joint, or what?

A.    I think it was a house.

Q.    And she got this Fleming to take you all to her house?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Where did you sit in the car?

A.    I was sitting in the back seat.

Q.    Where did she sit?

A.    She was sitting in the back seat, too.

Q.    Who else was in the back seat?

A.    Oh, it was a bunch of us in there.

Q.    You mean it was more than you named just now?

A.    Yes, sir.                                                                  .

Q.    Who else was in the car?

A.    I tell you the truth, I've been away so long, I don't even know

Q.    You just don't know them?

A.    I don't know them by name.

Q.    But you do know that Robinson was in the car?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    And Fleming?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    And yourself and her?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    How many others were in the car?

A     Well, I would guess, let's see, there were four of us; I would guess about three or four more.

Q.    How many was in the back seat?

A.    It was about four or five of us in the back seat.

Q.    Did you see Robinson after you heard the shot?

A.    Did I see him any more?

Q.    Yes.

A.    No, sir, I didn't see him any more.

Q.    Did he leave there?

A.    I guess he did. I didn't see him any more because I went to her daughter, you know, and woke her up and I picked her up in my arms and car­ried her on in the house.

Q.    Did you call an ambulance or a doctor?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    That's as much as I know. It happened so quick.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, thank you.                 (Witness Excused)

THOMAS FLEMING, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Your name is Thomas Fleming?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Were you with Essie Suber on the night of April 4th?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Just in your own words, tell these Gentlemen just what you know about this accident?

A.    I came to Pomaria down there and she was at a lady's house. She asked me to take her home and I took her and Free home.

Q.    You took her and Free home?

A.    And Willie Albert.

Q.    Is that all that you took home?

A.    I had five in the car when I picked them up.

Q.    with you?

A.    Ulysses Cannon, Narvis Cromer, Pete Chapman and Nuckus Cromer.

Q.    What kind of car were you driving?

A.    '66 Ford.

Q.    And you had eight people in there?

A.    That's right.

Q.    Is that a four-door automobile?

A.    Two door.

Q.    All of these are adult people, grown people?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    How many did you have in the front seat with you?

A.    Three.

Q.    Go ahead and tell us what happened after you got to Essie Suber's home?

A.    I carried her home and her and Free and Willie Albert got out and I was fixing to back out, and looked like she was cutting at Rope and Rope started backing up and he backed down in a ditch and I heard a shot, and she come running back toward the house and she fell, and that's all I know.

Q.    Before they got out of the car, were they arguing?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Why would she look like she was cutting at him?

A.    I don't know. I wasn't out there. I had my radio on.

Q.    And they got out of the car and stood out of the car a while before this took place?

A.    Yes, sir, they was standing out there.

Q.    They were just talking, and all of a sudden this started hap­pening?

A.    I was fixing to back out when it started.

Q.    Could you hear them?

A.    I had my radio on.

Q.    Did you hear the shot?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    How many times did he shoot?

A.    Once-.

Q.    You never did get out of your car before this shooting?

A.    No, sir, I got out afterwards.

Q.    Did you see Willie Robinson any more after you heard the shooting?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Did he come back up to the car?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Where did he go then?

A.    I don't know. I went in the house. When I came back I didn't see him no more.

Q.    Did you talk to him when he came up to the car?

A.    No, sir.

SHERIFF SHEALY: Mr. Summer, I'd like to go over that list of names that he gave that was in that automobile the night this happened. The information we had, we had five in that car. If I understand him right, now, he said eight.

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Would you go over the names of the ones that was in the car?

A.    Ulysses Cannon, Narvis Cromer, Pete Chapman and Nuckus Cromer.
Q.    And the others were you and the other three?

A.    That' s right.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    Do you know whether anyone in this crowd was drinking?

A.    I just had picked them up. I don't know.

Q.    You weren't at this house where you picked them up, you just stopped there and they asked you to carry them home?

A.    That's right.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, that's all.         (Witness Excused)

CARL TAYLOR, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    What position do you hold, Mr. Taylor?

A.    Deputy.

Q.    Did you get a call to investigate a shooting down at Essie home on April 4th?

A.    Yes, sir.

­ Q.   Go ahead, Mr. Taylor, in your own words and tell these Gentlemen what you know about this?

A.    Deputy Cockrell and myself had a call to come down to Essie Suber's, that she had been shot. We got down to
       Keitts Crossroads and met the ambulance coming in. We went on down and there were several in the house, but didn't anybody know anything. They had just come in, all but Virgil Free. Virgil said she had been shot. He didn't think she was hurt bad and that's all he knew. He said that Willie Albert Robinson had shot her. We started looking for Willie Albert. Between 2:00 and 2:30 that morning, Willie Albert called from his daddy's house and said to come get him.

Q.    What kind of pistol was she shot with?

A.    Buck got the pistol. I think it's a .22.

SHERIFF SHEALY: I've got it. It's a .22.

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    About what time was it when you got the call?

A.    We got the call around ten o'clock.

Q.    This is in Newberry County?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    I don't believe you got to see the body?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    You were still investigating the shooting?

A.    We met the ambulance, and we went on down to the house.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us about it?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    During that night, did you find out later that she died?

A.    We found out later she died. The Sheriff went to the hospital. We never did go to the hospital. We were looking for Willie Albert.

Q.    And he radioed to you that she had died?

A.    She had died; heard that she had died.

CORONER SUMMER: That will be all.                        (Witness Excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"4/9/70. Re: Essie Suber.

To Whom it May Concern: This is to certi­fy that the above was examined by me when brought to the Emergency Room. She was dead on arrival at the Hospital. Death was due to a bullet wound of her right chest. The entrance of the bullet was the right lower lateral chest wall. The bullet was located in the neck in the right posterior area.

Sincerely, E. J. Dickert, M.D."

Mr. Foreman, you had your charge at the beginning of this inquisition. It is now your duty to retire to the jury room to pass your verdict on how Essie Suber came to her death. (Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the jury room and delivered the following verdict, concurred in by all jurors:)

"Essie Suber came to her death as the result of bullet wound at the hands of Willie Albert Robinson. We recommend that Willie Albert Robinson be held for Grand Jury investigation."

 (Whereupon, the inquisition was concluded.)

 

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