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 11th day of May A. D., one thousand nine hundred and seventy­ two before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Roosevelt Wise then and there being dead by the oaths of James W. Smith, Ray R. Nobles, William N. Gibson, Sarah Powell, Sam Marlowe, and Raymond Ruff 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 Roosevelt Wise came to his death, upon their oaths, do say Roosevelt Wise came to his death as the result of his own negligence. We do not recommend Grand Jury action. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Roosevelt Wise came to his death in the manner aforesaid and we do not recommend Grand Jury action.

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/John W. Smith, Foreman, (L. S.)

/s/Ray R. Nobles  (L. S.)

/s/William N. Gibson  (L. S.)                                                 /s/ Sam Marlowe (L. S.)

/s/Sarah Powell (L. S.)                                                         /s/Raymond Ruff (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: lady and Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the death of Roosevelt Wise. You are now .to listen to the testimony we have to offer in this inquisition and from this testimony you will arrive at how Roosevelt Wise came to his death.

RONNIE BROOKS, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Ronnie, on the night of April 1st this year, were you driving on what is known as the Adams Camp Road out from Prosperity?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Just tell this lady and these gentlemen here just what you saw on this road that night?

A.    Well, I was leaving Prosperity that night, a little after 11, going out of town.

Q.    Like you're going towards Martin's Marina?

A.    Yes, sir, and as you go out of town, there's a flat down there so I was approaching the flat and I seen an object in
       the road and there was an approaching car, so I dimmed my lights. I couldn't tell what it was. A few feet from it I could realize that it was a man. When I realized it was a man sitting down in the road, there was an approaching car coming so I blinked my lights. By that time I had passed the approaching car so I put on brakes. When I was passing, I realized it was a man so I put on brakes and I said to myself, "He done hit him," so I went on up the road and turned around and come back. The man had pulled over on that side of the road and was standing up there by the road crying, hollering about he had hit a man. I was telling him he couldn't help it, because the man was sitting down in the road. So he said, “I know it, but I still done hit him and I believe he's dead." About the time another car was coming when I was coming back so he said he told him to go back and tell the police about it. Another approaching car was coming and I stopped him and told him, "I believe he's dead." I didn't want to go down there by myself. I asked him to walk down there with me. We walked down there and looked at him, and both of us said, "Yes, I believe he's dead," so we turned around and came back. He was still standing up there in the road by the back of his car crying about he had killed a man, just like that. Then a lot of people had come and I said to myself, "I believe the man is dead" like that, so I left.

Q.    Had the police got there before you left, or they came after you left?

A.       They came after I left.

Q.      When you blinked your lights at this car, could you estimate how fast he was going?

A.    Well, I can't say.

Q.    Was it medium speed or slow speed or high speed?

A.    He was running medium speed because it was foggy down there and he couldn't have been running much faster than I was.

Q.    How fast were you driving?

A.    Well, going out of town, I had dimmed my lights. I was running about 45.

Q.    Did he dim his lights back at you?

A.    Yes, sir, he dimmed them.

Q.    Was this object in the road, you said it was a man, was he sitting up in the road or was he lying down in the road?

A.    Well, he was sitting in the road, just like that.

Q.    His head was sitting up?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    He wasn't laying flat down?

A.    No, sir, he was sitting up in the road.

Q.    Did you see him move or anything when you passed him?

A.    No, sir, I didn't see him move.

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

A.    No, sir.

Q.    In your opinion, then, the fellow that hit this man couldn't help himself?         .

A.    No, sir, he couldn't help it because from the time when I was coming; he was about like that from the centerline of the road and from the time I seen him, the way it was foggy and all, he couldn't have stopped.

Q.    How close were you to him before you saw him, the fellow in the road?

A.    About a car length and a half, something like that.

Q.    At that time, you couldn't tell whether it was a man or not?

A.    When I got right on him I could tell it was a man.

Q.    Is that all you know about it then?

A.    Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you.                             (Witness Excused.)

WILLIAM GILES, having been advised of his right to make a statement or not make a state­ment at an inquest, volunteered to testify, was duly sworn and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    William, just in your own words tell these gentlemen and the Lady what happened that night.

A.    I was headed home and I had passed this car and he blinked his lights and I couldn’t figure out why he was blinking his lights or nothing and right after that, all of a sudden I just seen the man's face in front of me and I just hit the man.

Q.    Was it foggy this night?

A.    Didn't seem like it was.

Q.    Is there a big lake right off to your right?

A.    I believe there is a pond.

Q.    Approximately what speed were you driving, do you know?

A.    Well, I would estimate between 40 and 50.

Q.    When you saw the man, did you apply brakes or was it too late for you to apply brakes?

A.    It was too late. I never did apply brakes.

Q.    When he blinked his lights, was this close to the man whenever you were approaching?

A.    No, not that close.

Q.    After you hit the man, what did you do then?

A.    Well, I stopped as soon as I could and I got out and this other car was coming from town. I stopped him and I told him to turn back and go report it.

Q.    And did you talk to this Brooks boy that night?

A     Yes, sir.

Q.    Did he tell you the same thing he told us in his testimony here, that he saw the man in the road and he blinked his lights at you?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    This happened in Newberry County, didn't it?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    What kind of car were you driving?

A.    A '64 Chevrolet.

Q.    On what part of the car did he hit?

A.    The grill.

Q.    He didn’t t get up on the hood or anything, he just hit the grill?

A.    The grill.

Q.    To show that he was sitting down in the road?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Is there anything else you can tell us?

A.    No, sir.

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

THOMAS M. NICHOLS, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    What is your full name?

A.    Patrolman Thomas M. Nichols.

Q.    You are with the South Carolina Highway Patrol?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Mr. Nichols, did you get a call to investigate this accident on April 1st this year?

A.    No, sir, I didn't get a call. I happened to run up on it.

Q.    Just in your own words, tell the lady and gentlemen here what your investigation was.

A.    Well, approximately 11:45 P. M. I was on routine patrol on Secondary 36-26 which is the Adams Camp Road. I
        had been down the Adams Camp Road and was coming back in the direction toward Prosperity. As I went down
into the flat and started up this hill where the accident oc­curred, I noticed a lot of blue lights flashing in the road. As I approached, I seen an object laying in the roadway with a sheet over it. When I arrived, I knew that somebody had been hit and possibly killed. The Prosperity Police Department had already arrived at the scene which this was in the Town of Prosperity and I drove up and asked them could I be of any assistance to them. These men were fairly new with the Prosperity Police Department. They said they would appreciate it if I would take care of it being there was a fatality involved which I did. From my investigation, I found a 1964 Chevrolet which I later learned was driven by Mr. William Mitchell Giles. It was parked on the north­ bound shoulder of the roadway approximately 96 feet from where the body

was laying on the right shoulder, and from my investigation, just what you heard the other witness tell, that he was headed in the direction of Pros­perity and this Mr. Wise was sitting in the road approximately three feet from the center of the roadway and he did not see him in the roadway until he got right on him. He didn't have time to apply any brakes at all. The total distance the vehicle traveled after the impact from where he hit, as I said a while ago, was 96 feet and the body was lying three feet, two inches from the right edge of the roadway; that is from the right edge of the roadway in the lane that he was traveling, and there was a seven foot shoulder.

The Coroner, I think, asked for a blood test from the deceased Mr. Wise. I believe it read .514. As you know .10 or above is under the influence according to State law now, so he read .514 which I don't see how he could have been living really. If he was living, he had to have been unconscious. Of course I'm not a doctor, but that's what they taught us in breathaly­zer school. We also ran a blood test on Mr. Giles, and his came back negative, nothing. That's about all I know, sir.

Q.    This happened in Newberry County, didn't it?

A.    Yes, sir, it did.

Q.    Approximately what time?

A.    Approximately 11:45 P. M. I might say too, the visibility was poor in this area as testified previously. There was some fog in this flat. There is a fish pond in that flat and fog was coming off that fish pond at settling in that flat and you couldn't see too well.

Q.    From your talking to the young man that had hit him, from your investigation, you think that he couldn't help it?

A.    No, sir, I couldn't have helped it myself if I had been coming through there because he didn't have time to put on

         brakes at all. There were no skid marks where he applied brakes. I checked his brakes and his brakes were good. He had good brakes on his car. The impact on his car was two feet, six inches from the left side, standing from the back, looking from the left side over into the grill. You could see the print where his head went into the grill.

Q.    This would signify that he was sitting up?

A.    Yes, sir, he had to have been sitting up. If he had been stand­ing he would have went over the hood of the car. He had to have been sit­ting in the road.

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

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"Roosevelt Wise, colored male, age 59, height five foot, six inches, weight 130 pounds. Crushing head injury and chest injury. Compound frac­tures of all extremities, multiple. Chest crushed. Crushing injury to head, chest and multiple compound fractures of all extremities secondary to auto accident."                 This is by Dr. Ralph P. Baker, M. D.

This is all we have to offer in this case. Now it is your duty to retire to the jury room and pass your verdict on how Roosevelt Wise came to his death. (Whereupon, the jury retired, and delivered the following verdict, concurred by all the jury)

 “Roosevelt Wise came to his death as the result of his own negligence. We do not recommend Grand Jury action.”

 (Whereupon at approximately 8:35 pm the proceedings in the inquisition were concluded.)

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and State afore­said, the 11th day of May A. D., one thousand nine hundred and seventy-two before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of James Willie Wells then and there being dead by the oath of Raymond Ruff and Sam Marlowe, 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 James Willie Wells came to his death as the result of pistol wounds at the hands of David Lindsay. We re­commend that David Lindsey be held for Grand Jury investigation. And so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid James Willie Wells came to his death in the manner afore­said and recommend that David Lindsay 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 N. Gibson, Foreman, (L. S.)

/s/Sarah Powell (L. S.)

/s/Ray R. Nobles (L. S.)                                                                 /s/Raymond Ruff (L. S.)

/s/John W. Smith (L. S.)                                                                /s/Sam Marlowe (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 James Willie Wells. It is now your duty to lis­ten to the testimony we have to offer in this case, and after hearing this testimony, you will arrive at how he came to his death and by what means and by what weapon and at whose hands he met his death. If you feel that someone else is responsible for his death, you will recommend in your verdict that they be held for Grand Jury investigation.

CHRISTINA SLIGH, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Christina, in your own words, I want you to tell me, on February 27, 1972, did a shooting take place on South Street?

A.    Yes, sir, it did, in my home.

Q.    That is your home?

A.    Yes.

Q.    Well, just in your own words, without me interrupting you, speak to the lady and gentlemen over here and tell them just what happened that night at your home?

A.    Well, I was in the kitchen preparing supper and J. W. and his girl friend, Skates Wells and his girl friend were in

        the front room. They usually come around every Sunday to see me with the baby, and I heard Linda tell Skates, don't throw the baby on the couch like that. He jumped up and I' don't know whether he hit her or she hit him, but anyway, when I went in there, he had cut her across the stomach and so we summoned and ambulance and I went to the hospital with her and he left. When I came back, I was outside talking with the one that carried me to the hospital. When I walked in the house, he started at me. He used a foul word, and he said, "That goes for you too." He said, "I'll cut your throat" and he grabbed out his knife. When he grabbed out his knife, I walked on out the front door and went to the next door, Juanita Walker's house. I asked her, I said, "Juanita, Skates--James Willie Wells done started again." I said, "Can I call the law?" She said, "Yes, go on." About that time I turned to walk out the door, I heard a shot and I said, "Oh, Juanita, reckon Rat shot Skates?" So I didn't go in the house. I wasn't in the house at all and I didn’t go in.

Q.    You said reckon who shot Skates?

A.    David Lindsay.

Q.    But you weren't in the house. You don't know whether it was him or not?

A.    I do not know whether it was him or not. I heard the shots.

Q.    Is this your husband, or a friend?

A.    No, we are all friends.

Q.    Lindsay was just visiting your house?

A.    Lindsay and Wells was both just visiting.

Q.    Who else was in your house that night?

A.    Well, it was Linda and George and James Henry, he had just came in from Spartanburg but when I went to the hospital and came back from the hos­pital with Linda, it was, you know, quite a few in there.

Q.    Do you know about what time this was?

A.    Well, I couldn't estimate; anywhere from 6:30, somewhere in that vicinity. Knowing the correct time, I do not.

Q.    You mean that’s whenever the shooting took place, or that's when it started?

A.    That's when it first started.

Q.    You had already gone to the hospital with the lady that got cut and already come back?

A.    That's right.

Q.    Then the shooting took place after you called the police?

A.    I was over next door and I heard the shooting and I told Juanita, I hadn't even closed her door, and I told Juanita, I said, "Juanita, Rat done shot Skates."

Q.    Well, how would you think he was the one that shot him.

A.    Well, I just presumed that he was the one that shot him.

Q.    Had he been arguing with Lindsay?

A.    No, they hadn't had no arguments that I know of. I don't know what they did when I was at the hospital.

Q.    You said that he got out his knife at you and you went out of the        house. Did he draw the knife on you?

A.    Yes, he had the knife open.

Q.    He didn't cut you or anything?

A.    Not, when he had the knife open, I walked right on out the door. When he opened his knife, I walked out to the next door.

Q.    Did the lady that he cut, did she have to stay in the hospital?

A.    No, they treated her and released her. They sewed her up and re­leased her.

Q.    After she was cut, you all didn't summon the officers at that time?

A.    We summonsed them.

Q.    They came down?

A.    Yes.

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

A.    No, because there's nothing else I know because I wasn't at home. I don't know what was said between them or what. I was over next door.

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

TH0MAS LYLES, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    What is your full name?

A.    Thomas Edward Lyles.

Q.    Thomas, I want you to take your time and answer the questions and tell the Jury what you know about what happened on the night of February 27 down on South Street. Just in your own words, start off and just tell these ladies and gentlemen just what happened that night?

A.    I don't know really what happened. I was home in the bed and heard the shooting going on. I came running down the road.

Q.    Oh, you weren't in the house when the shooting took place?

A.    No.

Q.    Where do you live from the house where the shooting took place?

A.    The house up on the hill behind it.

Q.    You came running down there, what did you see when you got down there?

A.    All I see is Skates had a sheet over him, that's all.

Q.    That's James Willie?

A.    Yes.

Q.    He had a sheet over him?

A.    Yes.

Q.    Did you see a gun at that time?

A.    No sir.

Q.    Did you know who had shot him?

A.    (Witness shakes head.)

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

A.    No, sir.

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

JAMES ROBERTSON, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    James, in your own words, just tell us what you know about this shooting down on South Street on February 27 this year.

A.    Well, I was called by my stepdaughter. She came over knocking on the door and said that Linda had got cut. I
        went over there at this time and I met a friend on the porch; the fellow that lives next door, Mr. Dean. I went over to his house with him to call the ambulance for her. After the am­bulance came and picked her up and they left, then I left and then I went up to my mother-in-law’s house because my wife was up there and they said my wife had went down to the address where James Wells was killed. I went down to get her and during the time I was down there, I talked with Wells in the kitchen for several minutes and told him the police was looking for him. After this, his wife came and Christina, from the hospital and he went in the room and was talking with them so I was in the kitchen and then I left the kitchen and went into the living room. I don't know who else was in the bedroom or anything but I went in the living room and sit down. At that time, David Lindsay came out and Wells came out behind him and there was a few words said, I couldn't understand. I was behind the heater and all at once they tangled up with each other.

Q.    You mean they were fighting?

A.    Yes, sir, they were fighting.

Q.    Did you see any knife?

A.    Wells was hitting at him. I don't know whether he had a knife in his hand because I have very bad vision. I couldn't tell the shooting going on and I was over in a corner. I was trying to get out.

Q.    After you heard the shot, what happened?

A.    I heard more than one shot. I heard approximately five but I didn't see all five. I jumped over the heater and started toward the kitchen and at this time I turned around as I started through the kitchen door and this was when the last shot was fired. I grabbed my wife because she had started back through there. That's all I know about it.

Q.    Do you know what time of night this was, approximately?

A.    No, because I had been asleep earlier. I would say it was around between nine and eleven. That's my estimation.

Q.    Was there any drinking going on at this house?

A.    Not while I was there.

Q.    You didn't see Wells or Lindsay either one drink anything while you were there. Did you see them drink anything?

A.    I didn't see Lindsay drink anything.

Q.    Did you see Wells drink anything?

A.    No, I didn't see him drink anything.

Q.    Did you know why they were fighting?

A.    No, I don't because I always thought they were very good friends.

Q.    Well, you heard one shot and you say there were four or f1ve shots?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    Did he fall with the first shot or when did he fall?

A.    I think he fell with about the third shot or the fourth shot. I'm not sure, but I heard approximately five.

Q.    You didn't know whether he hit him every time?

A.    No, 1 don't.

Q.    I believe you testified, you said you didn’t see a knife in Wells' hand.

A.    I didn’t.

Q.    You didn't tell the officers that night that you saw a knife?

A.    No, I didn't tell the officers that night that I seen a knife because I didn't see a knife even after the shooting. They told me about a knife. As I explained, I don't see very well.

Q.    You could see a pistol?

A.    Well, quite naturally you could see a pistol, a nickel plated one at that. I seen something shining in his hand but I didn't see a knife.

Q.    Could you tell it was a pistol?

A.    From the sound of it.

Q.    I mean looking at it, could you tell it was a pistol?

A.    I would say no, not from the distance I was and I was scared and I was trying to get out. I can’t say for sure it was one but from the sound of it, it was a pistol.

Q.    Did you hear any words that they were saying to each other?

A.    Well, I heard words, but I couldn't repeat them because I didn't quite fully understand them myself but it was words said.

Q.    How close were you to them?

A.    Approximately as far as from here to you.

Q.    And you couldn't understand them?

A.    Well, I was trying to get out, as I explained. The only words were said, when Lindsay come out the door and Wells came out behind him, he said a word then and Lindsay said, "I'm tired of people messing with me”, and they went at each other.

Q.    Is that all you know about it?

A.    That's all I know about it.

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

GEORGE LYLES, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    You are under oath to tell the truth, you understand that?

A.    Yes.

        Q.        I'm going to let you tell in your own words just what happened that night down on South Street as you know it.

A.    Well, after Skates cut her, he went home then he come back.

Q.    Who went home and come back?

A.    Skates did.

Q.    That's James Willie Wells?

A.       That' s James Willie. He went home and come back and said, "Any more of you sons-of-bi----s want to go to

          the hospital, you can jump now if you want to. I'll send some more out there." So nobody said nothing to him. I told him, "Man, you trying to make me fight, I ain't big enough to fight you" and then he walked on back there in the kitchen and said something to the boys in there, cussing and going on, then he come back in the house and he said--John Brown said, told him he wasn't going to beat too many others up, or somebody else was going to the hospital. Leona, she took John Brown out of the house. After John Brown left, he went in there messing with Rat.

Q.    That's Lindsay?

A.    Yes. He went in there messing with Rat.

Q.    Did you hear what he was saying to Rat?

A.    He told Rat, he said, "I ain't scared of you all sons-of-bi----s." Rat said, "I ain't scared of you neither, Skates. I

        done got tired of you all messing around with me. You all know I don't drink that stuff no more." Rat come out of the bedroom and started in the kitchen. Skates, he jumped up behind him with his knife in his hand going toward the kitchen, and Rat, he turned around and pushed him back. When he pushed him back, that's when he reached in his pocket and got his pistol out and started shooting. Then I run out.

Q.    Rat, that's his nickname?

A.    I reckon so. His first name is David, David Lindsay.

Q.    This is the man that did the shooting?

A.    Yes, sir, he run his hand in his pocket and he come out and started shooting. I run out the house then in the kitchen.

Q.    Did you hear how many shots were fired?

A.    No, I don't know how many was fired.

Q.    You were getting out of there?

A.    When I run, I run on out on the back porch. After the shots were over with, then I come back in the house.

Q.    You say that Wells came at Lindsay with the knife after he come out of the bedroom going to the kitchen?

A.    Yeah, he come at him with the knife.

Q.    And he turned around and pushed him then he shot him?

A.    Started shooting.

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

A     That's all I know.

Q.    Was there any drinking Wells was doing there at the house?

A.    No, wasn't no drinking.

Q.    Had he been drinking when he came there?

A.    I don't know.

Q.    But you didn't see any drinking at the house.

A.    I didn't see any drinking at the house.

Q.    Nobody was drinking?

A.    Nobody.

Q.    Is that all you can tell us?

A.    That's all I know.

CORONER SUMMER: All right. Thank you.                (Witness Excused.)

JOHNNY CHAPMAN, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.    Were you down on South Street the night this shooting took place?

A.    Yes, sir, I was there.

Q.    Do you live there?

A.    No, sir.

Q.    In your own words, just tell the lady and gentlemen what you know about this shooting?

A.    The only thing I know about it is when I got there, I seen the people and I said, "What done happened?"
        They said Skates had done cut his girl friend. She was laying on the floor. They had done called somebody to come take her to the hospital. I stayed there and when they come and took her to the hospital, I stayed there until they come back to see what had happened, so after they came back--before they came back, this Skates, Wells, he came in the door and I was sitting on the studio couch with George. He was sitting there too. Skates came in with a knife in his hand. He said he knowed everybody in the group hated him but he was from the group too. He said, "My daddy told me I was going to die with my shoes on" just like that. Then he asked me -­ he was swinging the knife back and forth and I was sitting there and he asked me did I know David Coleman. I said, "What David Coleman? I don't know nothing about no David Coleman." Then he started to swinging it over George's and my head, and George told him, he said, "Go on, Skates, you know I ain't in no position to fight you," so when I got a chance, I got up and went in the kitchen, too. I was in there and I was sitting down there, and I ain't heard no argument or nothing like that but all at once I heard this shooting and I didn't it was know it was Skates or who until I got up and want to the door and he was laying on the floor and the girl was over him telling him to spit it out, because the blood was coming out of his mouth. That's about all I know about it.

Q.    Did you see anybody drinking anything at this house that night?

A.    No.

Q.    Do you know whether Wells was drinking when he came there?

A.    I don't know whether he was drinking or not because he said he had just got up at home from taking a nap when he came in there.

Q.    Does he usually act like this when he is a sober man?

A.    Oh, no.

Q.    Why do you think he was acting like that?

A.    I don't know. I guess he was angry.

Q.    What would make him angry enough to want to kill somebody?

A.    Well, I don't know. He had cut his girl friend.

Q.    You don't know why he cut his girl friend?

A.    I wasn't there.

Q.    But you didn't actually see anybody shoot him, you just heard the shot2

A.    That's right. When I found out it was him, that was when I went to the door and saw him laying on the floor.

Q.    You didn't hear Wells and Lindsay arguing about anything?

A.    Didn't hear no argument.

Q.    Was there a lot of people in the house talking and going on at this time?

A.    Maybe so, because you know when something happens, people crowds in.

Q.    Is that all you know about it then?

A.    That's all I know.

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

RITA JEAN HALL, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

Q.      Were you down on South Street the night this shooting took place?

A.       Yes, sir, I was.

Q.      Just in your own words, tell us what you know about this shooting?

A.      I had been next door all day and about 8:00 or 8:30 I went over to Christina's house and she was cooking dinner and she needed some ingredients for a potato salad. She sent me to the store, and while I was gone to the

store evidently, Skates cut his girl friend because she was laying in front of the couch when I came back, cut across her stomach and her head. I stayed in the kitchen with Chris. I took the stuff to her and Chris left to go to the hospital and I didn't ever go into the living room or the bedroom. I stayed in the kitchen while they were gone because there were some people sitting around the dining room table and I was drinking a beer, but I took the beer in from next door when I went in and there was people talking and laughing and everything. I couldn't hear no argument or anything but while I was sitting at the table, I heard one shot, then I heard another shot, then it was three shots close. Somebody said Skates had been shot. I left the kitchen and went in the living room. He was laying in front of the sofa with his head all bloody, so I ran over to him and got down over him, trying to get him to spit the blood out. All of a sudden he just quit breathing or something, because I felt his pulse and it wasn't beating and I felt his chest and I could see he was dead, and I got up and went on back in the kitchen and the police came.

Q.    Did you see anybody else in the house drinking?

A.    I was drinking a beer but I carried it from next door over there and I didn't see anybody else drinking.

Q.    You didn't hear any argument between Lindsay and Wells?

A.    Well, I was in the kitchen and they was in the bedroom and living room and there were people talking and I couldn't even see the living room from where I was sitting.

Q.    Is that all you know about it?

A.    Yes, sir, it is.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, Ma'am.                 (Witness Excused.)

D. H. WILLINGHAM, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:

By Coroner Summer:

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

A.    I'm corporal on the City of Newberry Police Department, sir.

Q.    On the night of February 27 this year, did you get a call to invest­igate something going on down on South Street?

A.    Yes, sir.

Q.    In your own words, tell the lady and gentleman what your investigation was?

A.    To start out with the first beginning of this night, we received a call that there had been a disturbance down on

        South Street and of course the ambulance had been summoned about the same time, and we rushed down to South Street to see what had happened. When we got down there, we found this colored girl, she had been cut, and so the ambulance was there at the time, and checking her out, she needed to go on to the hospital and get sewed up so we sent her to the hospital and then we talked to some of the witnesses here that you have already talked to, to find out actually what had taken place.

We found out what had taken place, he had picked the baby up and throwed the baby up against the couch down there. He had been using a lot of strong profanity and threatening with his knife. This was with his wife first so we took this information and he left. He left the house and we couldn't find him so we proceeded on to the hospital where--they said girl friend, I understood it was his wife--but we went on to the hospital to talk to her at the hospital and advise her what she needed to do, and she was going to get a warrant, to have him locked up for this act of cutting her that had taken place. We made sure that she was all right, and Christina, the first party that testified tonight, she was with this girl at the hospital and said that she would see that she got back home. We left it at that at the hospital, and we had no sooner got in the car at the hospital that we received another call to rush back down to South Street, there had been a shooting.

We got back down to South Street, and as the police car drove up, J. L. Lindsay was in the road. He was out there and he walked up to me and handed me this pistol and said, "I shot Skates Wells," He said, "He came at me with a knife in there, he had threatened Christina." This was nothing we seen but this was information he gave me at the time. There was a crowd coming out of the door at this time and in this situation, I didn't know whether they were with him or whatever, so I put Lindsay in the back of the automobile and rushed him down to the jail and put him behind lock and key. By this time, Sergeant Campbell arrived, about the time I left with him.

I went and locked him up in protective custody and came back to the scene. When we got back to the scene, Skates Wells, he had been shot and the ambulance was there and of course we called the Coroner and he pronounced him dead.

On our investigation after this, the information we got that was told to us by witnesses we have had up here, there was drinking going on in the place, also this man had come in, he had threatened Christina, using a bunch of strong profanity. He had swung a knife around at several different people and threatened the man that shot him and we did find a knife ten inches from his hand underneath where he had fell and it slipped out of his hand. We found this knife at the top part of his body. It had blood on it. Whether it come from when he cut his wife the first time with the knife or not, we didn't examine it to find out. This is about the essence of what I found out.

Q.    What time was the shooting down there, do you know approximately what time?

A.    I would say this was somewhere around eleven o'clock if I'm not mistaken.

Q.    This happened in Newberry County?

A.    Yes, sir, happened in Newberry County on South Street, located around the Oil Mill section.

Q     This is in the city limits?

A.    City limits, yes, sir.

Q.    What kind of pistol was this that he was shot with?

A.    It was a                   .32.

Q.    How many times had it been fired? How many empty bullets did you find in it?

A.    Five.

Q     How many does it hold?

A.    Five.

Q.    It had been fired five times?

A.    Five times, yes, sir.

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

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"February 27, 1972. This is to certify that I examined the dead body of James Willie Wells and found that his death resulted from gun shot wound of left chest in area of the heart. The gun shot wound in my opinion sufficient to cause death.                                                                                                J. E. Grant, M. D."

Mr. Foreman, lady and gentlemen of the Jury, this is all we have to offer tonight in this inquisition. It is now your duty to retire to the jury room to pass your verdict on how James Willie Wells came to funs death. You received your charge at the beginning of the inquisition.          (Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom and delivered the following verdict, concurred by all jurors:)

"James Willie Wells came to his death as the result of pistol wounds at the hands of David Lindsay. We recommend that David Lindsay be held for Grand Jury investigation."

 (Whereupon, the proceedings in this matter were concluded.)

 

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