CORONER'S INQUISITION, 1954-1958
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 fifth day of January A.D., one thousand nine hundred end fifty-six before GEORGE H. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Tassie Lee Sadler then and there being dead by the oaths of Leroy Wilson, John Senn, J. K. Willingham, Linoel Slaton, Tommie P. Setzler and E. M. Lipscomb, being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and s worn to inquire, for the State of South Carolina where and by what means the said Tassie Lee Sadler came to her death, upon their oaths, do say that she came to her death by the hands of Haskell Floyd.

AND so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid, Haskell Floyd be held for investigation by the Newberry County Grand Jury.

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 Senn (L.S.)

/s/ J. K. Willingham (L.S.)

/s/ Linoel Slaton (L.S.)

/s/ Tommie P. Setzler (L.S.)

/s/ E. H. Lipscomb (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foreman of the jury stand and be sworn?

(Thereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the rest of you Gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Tassie Lee Sadler.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony of the witnesses, and to determine from the testimony where and by what means the said Tassie Lee Sadler came to her death.

Mr. Floyd, will you come around, please?

J. Y. FLOYD was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Mr. Floyd, go ahead and tell these gentlemen of' the jury what you saw on the morning of December 11th?

A. Well, as I drove into the schoolyard that morning, I seen this woman laying on the doorstep. I got out of my pickup and walked to her. It appeared that she was dead. I mean I thought she was dead. I turned around and got in my pickup and went over and got Mr. Bowles and Mr. Pitts. We came back, and when we came back, I noticed somebody was over her, I thought, but he broke and run back in the schoolhouse. I told Mr. Pitts there was somebody over her. He said, "Did' you see him" and I said "Yeah."

When He got back to the school, we got out and went to her. I said, "She is not dead, she is still breathing but she is in critical condition. Mr. Pitts said, "I will go call the law and the ambulance."

This boy was still in the schoolhouse. I motioned to Mr. Pitts and he went to the back.

He said the boy tried to run out the back but went back in when he saw him. He got out of the side of the school bui1diing and made a break.

I thought it was ‘Pot’ and I called him and the third time I called him by name and he turned and came back.

Q. What time did you go along there?

A. Approximately eight o'clock.

Q. What schoolhouse?

A. The new building, I don't know the name.

Q. That is about all you know about it?

A. Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Would any of you gentlemen like to ask him any questions?

You're excused, Mr. Floyd, thank you. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Tab Wyatt, come around.

TAB WYATT was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Tell these gentlemen what took place from the time you went to the Sadler's house, what time was that?

A. It was 20 minutes after four o’clock by her watch. Well, she asked me to get her a drink, Tassie Lee asked me to get her a drink of whiskey. I told her yeah, I would take her. She got up and I went around the house and stepped out. She was coming out, and got in the car. I went on down the road and we overtaken this boy. She said, "There is old Pot, pick him up and I'll make him buy me a drink of liquor." I picked him up and we went down to where that man got killed. He said he knew where some whiskey was there. He didn't get any there and we came on back and went there by Mr. Harold Pitts place and run on down the road to Eva Wrights. We went on there and I had a tire leaking and I went out there and took the flashlight and looked at the tire. It was up pretty good. They went in the house and got what they were going to get. He said, "I bought the whiskey, looks like you could get the tomato juice."

I paid for it and he drank it.

I went to the bathroom then and came back in the house. Tassie Lee, she told him, "Why don't you get up and cook breakfast, it's time for breakfast, it's six o'clock." She said, "Child, I'm not going to cook breakfast, I'm going to rest a while." I said, "Let's go, I've got to go to the store and put air in the tire." We got up and went to Langford's Creek, on the other side and he got out. I went on to Mr. Bowles store and put air in the tire. I told her, "Tassie, it ain't going to be long until Mr. Bowles opens, and I won't have to make two trips, I'll carry you back to the house" and she said, "You take me to the forks." I pulled in there and, turned around in the schoolhouse yard.

About that time she seen him coming up the road. She said, "Look, there's old ‘Pot’ coming up there, I wonder where he is going." I said, "I don't know." She was sitting on the far side of the car with the door open. He come up and pulled her out and got my flashlight and struck her one time, that's all I saw him hit her. When I pulled him, away and he told her, "No, you ain’t going to that funeral." I said, "Since you are going to discuss your affairs, I'm leaving" and I got in the car and went back to Mr. Horace Bowles store. I got what I had to buy and Mr. J. Y. Floyd and Mr. William Pitts come there during the time I was there. I left and went back to where you and Mr. Neel come.

Q. That is all you know about it?

A. That is all.

Q. Do any of you gentlemen have any questions you would like to ask him?

JUROR: Yes. You said you picked up somebody on the road, who?

THE WITNESS: Haskell Floyd.

JUROR: Whose house did you take him to?

THE WITNESS: No house, I put him out down the road. I told him the road was too rough to go in there.

I said, "Pot, I've got a weak tire and can't carry you in there." I pulled on the bridge and backed out.

JUROR: Who pulled who out of your car?

THE WITNESS: Haskell pulled Tassie out of my car.

JUROR: Tassie who?

THE WITNESS: Tassie Lee Sadler.

CORONER SUMMER: What time of the morning was that?

THE WITNESS: That was around 7:30 then, the sun was up. . I didn't have to have no lights on.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Sheriff Fellers, come around.

TOM FELLERS was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. What position do you hold in Newberry County?

A. Sheriff of Newberry County.

Q. All right, Mr. Fellers, go ahead and tell the gentlemen of the jury what investigation you made on December 11?

A. On December 11, about eight o’clock I received a phone call that there was an awful fight going on at the new colored school. At that time I didn't know the name of the school, Reuben Elementary School.

Deputy Neel and myself immediately went up there. We found this Haskell Floyd. sitting on the steps and this Tassie Lee Sadler laying on the ground with her feet towards the steps and her head away from it.

She was in a semi-unconscious condition and from the answers of ones around there, I received information he was the one seen running away from there like Mr. Floyd just testified. He had these two shoes in his hip pocket.

She had on just a nightgown and long coat. He had taken the shoes off but she still had on some socks. It was awful cold that morning and we could tell from her body. She had had a severe beating, without making any close examination. We didn't see any blood. 'Then the undertaker got there. I ordered them to take her immediately to Newberry Hospital to avoid pneumonia. I thought she was just plain drunk. After they got her to the hospital they found, in addition to the bruises of her body, her arm was broken and she had a laceration on her head straight down all the way through the scalp to the skull, three or four inches. That was the examination the doctors made.

Well we talked to her, Mr. Neel, anyway, I received information from her about two o'clock, she said Haskell Floyd was the one who had given her that beating. From the looks of the ground there had been an awful flailing. He had drug her 33 yards from where the fight took place to where the body was found. That night at 7:50 I received a phone message from the hospital that she died.

We immediately went to the county jail where I had put Floyd that morning. I gave him his constitutional rights. I said, "What you say can be used for or against you, do you want to tell us how it happened?" He told us he was the one gave her a beating. He hit her a time or two over the head and we couldn’t ever find anything that made that cut unless it was this piece of wood.

That morning we found the other man’s name who was in the car and we went and got him and brought him to the county jail. After talking with him, just as he has testified before, we released him.

She had a genuine shipping with this stick. This pair of shoes, he had borrowed the money two weeks prior to that from Mr. Bowers to buy. He had each one of them in his hip pocket. That was the cause of' the genuine flailing, when he found her in the car with Tab Wyatt.

Q. Did he tell whether he was in the car with this fellow?

A. That is correct.

Q. Did he come up there 'with this fellow?

A. No, they had put him out and that is the statement, which was made to us. Floyd admitted to us Wyatt had put him out to go home and after they went on up the road, he kind of had one of these intuitions of colored people that they might not have gone home. He started on to John Brooks house, and that is when he found them in the yard of the school building. That is when he went out there and drug her out of the car and jumped on her.

Q. Would you say they had all been drinking?

A. Very heavily I couldn't tell about the woman. She was in a semiconscious condition. Haskell Floyd was pretty well drunk. We didn't talk to him any more.

Q. This happened in Newberry County?

A. Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Is there anything you gentlemen would like to ask him?

THE WITNESS: I would like to say in connection with this statement Dr. Dickert made, I'll read it,

"This is to certify that Teressa Belle Sadler came to her death from pulmonary edema and congestion resulting from shock and exposure,"

I took this up with the Solicitor and for your information, although possibly the wound may not have been the prime factor in her death, the flailing she got contributed to shock and exposure.

I understand they were there two or three hours, as cold as it was, and he was responsible for it to that extent.

CORONER SUMMER: That is about all you know about the case Sheriff?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.
CORONER SUMMER: That is all, unless any of you gentlemen would like to ask him any ` questions. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, you have heard the testimony of the witnesses and it is now time to go to the jury room and pass your verdict on how Tassie Lee Sadler came to her death, and if some party or parties other than the deceased are responsible for her death, you will recommend that such party or parties be held for Grand Jury investigation.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Will you read it please, Mr. Foreman?

THE FOREMAN: We find that Tassie Lee Sadler came to her death by the hands of Haskell Floyd, and recommend that Haskell Floyd be held for investigation by the Newberry County Grand Jury.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, gentlemen, you are excused.

(Whereupon, at 8:25 p.m., the inquest in the above-styled matter was closed.)


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Peak in the County and state aforesaid, the Sixth day of January A.D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Joseph Ray Stoudemayer of Peak then and there being dead by the oaths of H. J. Smith, J. C. Counts, J. K. Shell, W. C. Derrick, Glenn Bonner and W. D. Moreland 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 Joseph Ray Stoudemayer came to his death, upon their oaths, do say Joseph Ray Stoudemayer came to his death as the result of the blast of a shotgun accidentally discharged while being passed from said Ray Stoudemayer to his wife, Christine.

AND so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Joseph Ray Stoudemayer came to his death in t he manner aforesaid.

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 (LS.)

/s/ H. J. Smith, Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ J. C. Counts (L.S.)

/s/ J. K. Shell (L.S.)

/s/ W. C. Derrick (L.S.)

/s/ Glenn Bonner (L.S.)

/s/ W. D. Moreland (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foreman of the jury stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the remainder of you gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Ray Stoudemayer.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony given by the witnesses, and to determine from such testimony by what means the said Mr. Stoudemayer came to his death.

Mr. Henderson, w ill you come around?

L. L. HENDERSON was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. What position do you hold in this county, Mr. Henderson?

A. Deputy Sheriff.

Q. Did you have cause to investigate this death of December 24, Mr. Henderson?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. Go ahead and tell these gentlemen of the jury what investigation you made, sir?

A. In the late afternoon or early part of the night of December 24, the Sheriff's office received a call that somebody had been killed at Peak. We came to the house of Ray Stoudemayer, and found him in the kitchen dead.

His wife told us that late that afternoon, he came home and when he came in the house, he started fussing at one of the little girls and she told him, "We are not going to have that here this weekend" and he told her, "I'll get you for that" and she said that he looked at her too, his wife, and said, "I'm going to get you too."

She said a little later he walked in the adjoining room and picked up a pump gun and stopped by the dresser and got a shell. She said he put it in the gun and she noticed him pumping it into the chamber of the gun. He came in the kitchen where she was and he pushed the safety off and asked her, "Do you see that?"

When he did, he shoved the butt toward her and she grabbed the butt and about that time it went off.

The load struck him in the shou1der and the neck. When we got there he was just sitting in the chair, just about like that (indicating sprawling position), his right knee on the floor and his head laying on the table.

She said that he had got the gun several times before but this was the only time she had ever known him to put a shell in it and she had hidden the gun on numerous occasions from him.

I believe that about covers it, Coroner, as to what statement she made to us.

Q. This happened in Newberry County, did it not?

A. Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Would any of you gentlemen like to ask him any questions?

If not, that will be all, Mr. Henderson. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mrs. Stoudemayer, would you like to make a statement?

You don't have to, and whatever you might say can be used for or against you. If you would like to make a statement, I'll be glad to swear you in and take your testimony.

MRS. STOUDEMAYER: No, what he said was true.

CORONER SUMMER:

This is the doctor's statement:

"At the request of Sheriff Tom Fellers I examined the body of Ray Stoudemayer at 7:10 p.m. on December 24, 1955.

There was a gun shot wound of the right shoulder. The point of entry was from the posterior aspect of the shoulder and the wound was about one inch in diameter.

The course of the load was directed forward, medially, and at an angle upward traveling through the subcutaneous tissues and trapezius muscle and leaving the shoulder above the collar bone.

The load then entered the right side of the neck, just below the angle of the jaw, causing an elliptical wound about two inches in the longest diameter.

The course of the shot was not probed but from the amount of external bleeding it was assumed that the great vessels of the neck, that is the jugular vein and the carotid artery, were severed.

There was no wound of exit.

The location and size of the wound were sufficient to cause death almost instantaneously.

Carroll A. Pinner, M.D."

Gentlemen, you have heard the charge at the beginning of the inquest.

It is your duty now to pass your verdict on how Ray Stoudemayer came to his death.

Insert in your verdict the name of the deceased and by what instrument he came to his death, and at whose hands if you found he came to his death at the hands of other party or parties.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the hearing room.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Will you read it, Mr. Foreman?

THE FOREMAN: Joseph Ray Stoudemayer came to his death as the result of the blast of a shotgun accidentally discharged while being passed from said Ray Stoudemayer to his wife, Christine.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, gentlemen.

(Whereupon, at 9:00 p.m., the inquest was closed.)


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and State aforesaid, the 24th day of February A. D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Mrs.Lucie Staver then and there being dead by the oaths of Cecil E. Kinard, J. E. Harvey, James Mack, Fred K. Moon, William E. Dehihns, Jr. and Johnnie Stribble, 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 Lucie Staver came to her death, upon their oaths do say as the result of an automobile accident, the automobile being operated by the said Lucie Staver.

AND so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid came to her death in the manner aforesaid.

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/ Cecil E. Kinard, Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ J. E. Harvey, (L.S.)

/s/ James Mack, (L.S.)

/s/ Fred K. Moon, (L.S.)

/s/ William E. Dehihns, Jr., (L.S.)

/s/ Johnnie Stribble, (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foreman of the jury stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the rest of you gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Mrs. Lucie Staver.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony given by the witnesses and to determine from much testimony where and by what means the said Lucie Staver came to her death.

Mr. E. J. Lomax, come around.

E. J. LOMAX was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Where do you live, Mr. Lomax?

A. 243 Saluda Road, Ninety-Six.

Q. Were you in an automobile accident the night of February 12?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What time was this?

A. I don't know. I think we left Newberry around 8:30, somewhere around there, it was somewhere close to 9:00 o'clock.

Q. How did this accident occur? Go ahead and tell the gentlemen of the jury.

A. Well, we was going up the road, I don't know how fast we was going, making pretty good time. I wouldn't say how fast we was traveling. This woman, she was driving my car, my daughter's car.

Q. This woman, what lady was that?

A. My oldest daughter.

Q. The lady driving the car?

A. Lucie Staver.

Q. Go ahead.

A. I had to go to work at 12 0' clock that night and she d rove down there and asked me to bring her down here. I brought her down here I imagine it was around 8:30 when we left Mr. Reardon's station on the highway.

We was going on up the road and I dozed off to sleep one time. I told her I had to go to work at twelve and would like to get home in time to sleep a couple of hours before I had to go to work. I wasn't paying much attention to the road. I dozed off to sleep. We got, I reckon right on the automobile before I ever glanced up and seen it. It knocked me cold. I didn't know nothing else for a while. That is about all I know about it.

Q. What make car were you driving?

A. She was driving a '50 Maroon Ford.

Q. How many was in the car with you?

A. Just me and her.

Q. Were you drinking sir?

A. I drank one beer about four o'clock that evening and opened another one and had taken three or four drinks.

It spilled all over me.

Q. How about the driver?

A. I've never known her to take a drink in my life. I've only known her five or six weeks, it was after New Year Day somewhere after the first of January before I met the woman.

A. Which highway did you say this was on?

A. I don't know what the number of the highway is. We were going towards Chappells from Silverstreet. She lived between Chappells and Ninety-six.

Q. After you said you hit the car, you were knocked out, what was the next thing you remember?

A. When I come to myself I was wiping the blood out of my face and I got around on the front of the car. One of my lights was knocked out and my left hand light was still burning. I remember Mr. Burnett, T. L. Burnett, runs a garage up there, I remember him stopping and shining a light on her. I asked him what about pulling my car in.

He started to leave and said, "Don't let nobody move that woman." I don't know who all was there. Some fellow there was flashing a light motioning traffic to get by.

Q. You said you were asleep and you woke up when you were right on the car?

A. I know I woke up just before that. We come around the curve. I remember her saying something before we got to the car about meeting a car there and the lights blinded her.

Q. This other car, was it driving along in front?

A. I don't know whether it was driving along or stopped. I didn't see nothing until we got on it.

Q. Did you see the tail lights?

A. I didn't see lights at all. I don't know whether it was moving or sitting still. When it hit it knocked me out. When I come to myself, I was on the outside of the car.

CORONER SUMMER: Would any of you gentlemen like to ask any questions?

By Juror:

Q. Do you know approximately how fast you all were going?

A. I would say around fifty miles an hour. I'm pretty sure we were making say 45 or 50 miles an hour. I don't think she was going any faster.

CORONER SUMMER: Are there any other questions?

Was this in Newberry County?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: If there are no more questions, that will be all. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Boyce Sterling, come around please.

BOYCE STERLING was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Mr. Sterling, who do you work for?

A. Whitaker Funeral Home.

Q. On the night of February 12, did you receive a call to an accident on the Greenwood Highway?

A. From the Police Department.

Q. When you got to the scene of the accident, where did you take the lady out of the car from?

A. From the driver's seat.

CORONER SUMMER: That is what we wanted to establish. That will be all sir, thank you.

(Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Reardon, come around.

W. D. REARDON was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. I believe this car left from your place the night of February 12, did it not?

A. Yes, sir, about 8:30.

Q. Who was driving the automobile when it left?

A Lucie Staver. I didn't know her last name until Mr. Tom come out there and asked me after that. I thought she was a Garland. She was driving. I know she was driving when they left my place.

CORONER SUMMER: That is all we wanted to know.

JUROR: What time would you say' they left approximately?

THE WITNESS: About 8: 30. It was about 20 till ten when Mr. Tom come out and told me. She wasn't working for me. She did work up there about three weeks.

I had a place in Greenwood County but she wasn't working for me at all.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, that is all, sir. (Witness excused.)

ROOSEVELT LEAKE was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Go ahead and tell those gentlemen of the jury what happened the night of February l2?

A. Well, I was driving up the road, after eight o'clock, I was driving on the road between Mr. Oliver Wilson's and

Mr. Tim Harris, between 35 and 40. Me and another boy were together in this car, and this '50 Ford ran into the back of my car and knocked my car in the ditch. I started to get out of my automobile and this boy with me said, "Don't go up there, they might start shooting." I said, "I will have to go up there." I walked up to the car and when I got up there, I saw one person under the wheel. I didn't see but one person. I looked in there and whipped around the come back. Leroy Stevens, he drove up. I said, "What about taking me to Mr. Harris' to get the ambulance."

He said, "I can't take you but I will go over there." He taken his car and drove to Mr. Tim's. Mr. Ralph Whitner drove up and he said, "Boy, what happened to your car?" I said, "These people ran into me." He taken off to Chappells to call the ambulance. Mr. Oliver Wilson got out and stayed with me, then Mr. Dave Waldrop and Mr. Billy Sheppard.

This guy, I don't know his name, I didn’t see him until Mr. Ralph and those came. He got up and asked Mr. Oliver for a cigarette. I stood back on the bank. Mr. Oliver gave him a cigarette.

Q. This per son you said was under the steering wheel, was it a lady or a man?

A. It was a lady.

Q. Did you have your lights on?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Your taillights were working?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You were driving toward Chappells?

A. Yes sir.

Q. This car came behind --

A. And struck me.

Q. Struck you in the back?

A. And knocked me in the ditch.

Q. Had a car met you any time before that?

A. One met me before the accident happened.

Q. Where did you come into 34 at?

A Where did I come from?

Q. To get into 34?

A. From my home.

Q. Out through the yard?

A. Out through the yard.

Q. About how far is that from where the accident happened?

A. From where I live?

Q. Yes.

A. I would say about a mile, it might be a little over, I wouldn't say for sure.

CORONER SUMMER: Would any of you gentlemen like to ask him any questions?

JUROR: Had you just gone over a hill or around a curve before the accident occurred?

THE WITNESS: Mostly in a curve.

CORONER SUMMER: Where the accident occurred, was it straight?

THE WITNESS: It was mostly straight, yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: You said it happened a little after eight o’clock?

THE WITNESS: Somewhere along there.

CORONER SUMMER: How many were in your car?

THE WITNESS: Only two.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Reighley, come around.

D. A. REIGHLEY was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Highway patrolman.

Q. Did you have cause to investigate a wreck on February 121

A Yes, sir.

Q. Go ahead and tell the gentlemen of the jury what you investigated that night, sir?

A. On February 12, 1956 around 8:30 or thereafter, it was some time after 8:30; I received a call by patrol radio that an accident had happened on Highway 34 west of Little River Bridge. At that time I was near Clinton. I proceeded on over to the accident. When I arrived at the scene of the accident, there were two vehicles. One was off the highway in the ditch, the other one was in the highway. The lights were burning on both cars. The left headlight of the 1950 Ford was burning. There was no damage to the t light at all.

From there over to the other side of the vehicle was demolished and the other vehicle was a 1948 Ford. It was off the highway against a bank. The front lights were burning on this car at the time I arrived. The rear end of this car was demolished. I found out at the scene that Roosevelt Leake was the driver of the 1948 Ford and from what information I received at the accident, the other parties in the 1950 Ford had already been taken to the Newberry County Hospital.

At that time, I called Patrolman Abrams to go to the hospital and check with the other parties of the other car.

The 1950 Ford was in the highway, in the right lane headed towards Chappells.

It happened on a straight road. The curve that both vehicles had just come out of, there was one-tenth of a mile from the curve to where the accident happened of straight road and there was two-tenths of a mile from where the accident happened of straight road to the other hill that they were approaching.

There were no skid marks before the accident happened.

There was none after the impact. At the impact of both vehicles, there was a skid mark of about two feet, one skid mark. From the impact to where the 1948 Ford came to a stop was 42 feet. From where the impact took place to where the 1950 Ford came to a stop was 130 feet straight down the highway.

JUROR: How far did you say from the impact to the 1948 Ford?

THE WITNESS: Forty-two feet. The 1948 Ford, from the impact to where the car stopped was 42 feet.

This car hit a bank and there is where it came to a stop.

From the impact to where the 1950 Ford came to a stop was 30 feet. It didn't hit anything after it hit the car, or didn't appear to hit anything. It was dark at that time. It happened in Newberry County. The nearest I could get to the time of the accident was 8:50 p.m.

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. How was the weather that night? Was it foggy or clear or what?

A. The weather that night was clear. It wasn’t foggy.

Q. You said you talked to the fellow driving the 1948' Ford, did you not?

A. I did.

Q. Was there any liquor or anything around him?

A. Not that I could detect, nor was there any in the car. There wasn't any about the place that I saw. At the time I arrived at the scene of the accident, there was a beer can in the 1950 Ford on the right side. Beer had--I presumed it to be beer, it smelled like some kind of alcohol-- had spilled all over the front floorboard on the right side from the driver of the 1950 Ford. The steering wheel of the' 50 Ford was folded down over the steering column or post. The steering column or post was bent almost against the dash. The windshield was knocked out, not completely out but there was a hole in it on the driver's side and it was shattered. The 1948 Ford, the door was jammed on the driver's side.

The door on the opposite side was open. The rear end of this 1948 Ford was demolished. Whether it had tai1 lights before the accident, I couldn't detect that. The rear end of it was completely demolished.

Q. Was there any way you could determine how fast the 1950 Ford was going?

A. No, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Are there any questions you gentlemen want to ask?

By Juror:

Q. Did this lady have a driver’s license?

A. We never did locate a driver's license.

Q. What was the condition of the windshield on the right side of the car?

A. The windshield on the right side of the 1950 Ford, I'm not sure but I don't think it was broken at all.

Q. Approximately how far was it from Newberry to where the accident occurred?

A. Approximately 13 miles. It is 19 miles to Chappells and it was about four and one half miles east of Chappells on Highway 34 and I left the accident scene and came on to the hospital and of course Patrolman Abrams had already informed me Mrs. Staver was a fatality and he had gotten what information I needed at the hospital for the accident report.

CORONER SUMMER: This was in Newberry County?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Any other questions?

By Juror:

Q. I believe you stated you thought one of those cars applied brakes about two feet. Which car did you estimate it was?

A. I wouldn't say which car made the skid marks. At the time of the impact, there is one skid mark about two feet.

I wouldn't say which car made the skid mark. It could easily be either one of them. The impact was so great until you couldn't determine which wheel.

Q. Before the accident took place, there was not a skid mark anywhere.

A. No, when the impact took place, there was a skid mark of about one or two feet approximately after the impact took place. There was no skid marks from either vehicle. The 1950 Ford did not hit the 1948 Ford right square to the 1948 Ford. It did not hit square in the rear. It hit slightly to the left. The driver of the 1950 Ford hit the 1948 Ford in the rear slightly to the left. From the left headlight of the 1950 Ford to the right side all the way a cross was demolished. From the right tail light of the 1948 Ford to the le side was completely demolished.

Q. You say there was approximately two-tenths of a mile straight road from the impact?

A. After.

Q. What was it before?

A. One-tenth of a mile before the accident took place of perfectly straight road. It had begun slightly to be an upgrade just before time the accident occurred. Of course from where it slightly was becoming upgrade, there was two-tenths of a mile from there to the top of the hill going in the same direction. Both cars were going in the same direction. There was no side road of any kind at least two-tenths of a mile before the accident happened, before the impact of the accident. There was a side road approximately 75 feet after the accident occurred before either vehicle got to this road. It was at least 75 feet from that road.

Q. How far back did you say?

A. There is no traveled road approximately two-tenths of a mile in the curve they had just got out of.

CORONER SUMMER: That will be all, Mr. Reighley. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Abrams, come around.

D. E. ABRAMS was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Mr. Abrams, what position do you hold in this county?

A. South Carolina Highway patrolman, stationed at Prosperity, South Carolina, Newberry County.

Q. On the night of February 12, did you talk to the fellow riding in the 1950 Ford, sir?

A. I did, sir.

Q. What did he tell you that night, sir?

A. Patrolman Reighley already informed you I was going to go to the hospital and I went out to the hospital. Mr. Lomax was in the emergency room. I didn't bother Mr. Lomax while they were sewing him up, but he came out the door and I was talking to Mr. Lomax and asked him who was driving the car. He said Mrs. Lucie Staver. I asked had he been drinking. He said he had had several beers. I asked him if Mrs. Staver had been drinking any. He said, no, she didn't drink while she was driving and he didn't drive while he was drinking. He went ahead and made a statement that Mrs. Staver was used to driving an Oldsmobile and she was gutting the Ford going back home. He said he didn't think the Ford would do what it was doing, He didn't think it would stay together, that they were really flying, up the road.

Q. What time did you get to the hospital?

A. I imagine it was around 9:30. I was on the way to the county jail at the time I received the call and I went to the jail and on back out there.

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

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"February l2, 1956:

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that I examined the body of Mrs. Lucie Staver on February 12,1956 and found the cause of death to be a broken neck resulting from an automobile wreck. Elbert J. Dickert, M.D."

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen, you received your charge at the beginning of this inquest.

You have heard the testimony concerning this matter.

Insert in your verdict the name of the party killed, the instrument with which she met death and by whose hands she met death.

If you find from this testimony that same party or parties other than the deceased is responsible for her death, you will recommend in your verdict that the party or parties be held for Grand Jury investigation.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Will you read it please, Mr. Foreman?

THE FOREMAN: The jury finds that Mrs. Lucie Staver came to her death as the result of an automobile accident, the automobile being operated by the said Lucie Staver.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, gentlemen. You are excused.

(Whereupon, at 9:05 p.m., the inquest in the above entitled matter was closed.)


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Dec. 14,1955

This is to certify that I examined the dead body of General Lee Cooper alias Judge Cooper and found that his death was the result of 3rd degree burning of entire body. /s/ J. E. Grant, M. D.

This is to certify Frank Pitts died of shotgun wounds of head around 8 p.m. 11/19/55.

Annie Belle Moore died of wound of left chest—post-axillary line approximately 6th interspace, around 9 p.m.

11/19/55. Dr. W. J. Holloway 11/20/55


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: 12/8/55

This is to certify that Mr. R. S. Weir came to his death on 12/8/55 as a result of a bullet wound of his skull.

Respectfully, E. J. Dickert, M.D.


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: January 3, 1956

This is to certify that J. B. Gary came to his death from a severed spinal cord in the cervical region from fractured cervical vertebrae. Yours truly, Elbert J. Dickert, M. D.


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: 10-7-55

This is to certify that I viewed the body of a four-weeks-old baby girl, Mary Lee Blair and find that death was from natural causes. George R. Summer, Coroner.


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: 12-13-55

This is to certify that I viewed the body of Mary Lee Burton, a six-month-old girl baby and find that she died from natural causes. George R. Summer, Coroner.

August 29~ 1955:

This is to certify that I examined the dead body of Robert Gary and found that his death resulted from natural causes. (Heart and kidney trouble.) J. E. Grant, M.D.


TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: June 26th, 1955

This is to certify that I examined the dead body of Lavonne Selma Speight and found that she died of drowning.

J. E. Grant, M.D.

Hiram Sims Hospital Number: 3276

Four your old colored male Admitted 8 P.M. October 5, 1955

Route 2, Box 102 Expired: 9:22 P.M. October 7, 1955

Whitmire, South Carolina

DISCHARGE SUMMARY

This little well-developed, well-nourished, colored boy, age four years was first seen at Newberry County Memorial Hospital at 8 p.m. on 5 October 1955.

He was brought in by his mother and uncle. The story obtained was that about noon the day of admission, this little boy and a seven-year-old cousin were playing with a pistol of 38 caliber having only one bullet, which they had obtained from under the mattress. The gun went off and hit the patient in the right side of the neck and came out from beneath the left scapula. The mother was in the field picking cotton and did not know of the injury until evening.

She noted the boy was paralyzed and took him to Doctor Suber in Whitmire who referred him here.

When examined it was seen that the child was in acute distress. The skin was hot and moist except from the clavicle down where it had a shiny look. There was a bullet wound over the right side of the neck just above the clavicle and with a wound of exit beneath the left scapula. There were no powder stains on either wound.

There was ptosis of the right upper eyelid.

The right upper extremity was cool and weak as compared with the left.

He was able to move them.

Examination revealed him completely paralyzed from the clavicle down and unable to move or feel painful stimuli from the clavicle down.

He was also unable to void.

There was a loss of anal sphincter tone.

X-rays taken revealed evidence of pneumonitis on the right.

During the night, in spite of careful nursing, the boy became greatly distended and the bladder also was distended.

These were relieved with enema and indwelling catheter.

He was now unable to move his arms.

Consultations were obtained as soon as the boy arrived with both neurosurgeons in Columbia and both advised no further treatment except symptomatic relief as the spinal cord had been completely cut.

Examination of the urine was negative.

RBC 2,540,000;

WBC 8,400;

Hbg. 8.25;

L 35;

N 65.

In spite of intensive antibiotic therapy and good nursing care, his muscles of respiration soon were paralyzed and he expired at 9:22 P.M. on October 7, 1955.

Ralph P. Baker, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Newberry, South Carolina


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and State aforesaid, the eleventh day of May, A. D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Johnnie Burton then and there being dead by the oaths of L. Pope Wicker, Jr., John E. Williams, J. B. West, R. E. Harvey, Raymond Bedenbaugh and C. E. Parkins, 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 Johnnie Burton cane to his deal1h, upon their oaths do say he came to his death as the result of gun shot wounds at the hands of George Wyatt.

AND so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Johnnie Burton came to his death in the manner aforesaid.

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/ L. Pope Wicker, Jr., Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ John E. Williams (L.S.)

/s/ J. B. West CL.S.)

/s/ R. E. Harvey (L.S.)

/s/ Raymond Bedenbaugh (L. S.)

/s/ C. E. Perkins (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foremen of the jury stand end be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the remainder of you gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Johnnie Burton.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony given by the witnesses and to determine from such testimony where and by what means the said Johnnie Burton came to his death.

Mr. Henderson, come around.

L. L. HENDERSON was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. What office do you hold?

A. Deputy sheriff.

Q. Go ahead, Mr. Henderson, and tell these gentlemen of the jury what you know about the case of how Johnnie Burton came to his death?

A. Last Friday night, a little after 10:30 o'clock, I received some information that there had been some shooting at Billy Turner's place just a short ways out of the city limits, in Newberry County. We immediately went to Bill Turner's place. We received some information that the boy that was shot had been carried to the Newberry County Hospital. We left there and went to the hospital and Johnnie Burton was dead when we arrived at the hospital.

We later picked up George Wyatt, who admitted he and Johnnie Burton had had same words at Raymond Caldwell's place earlier in the night. He said they left there and went to Bill Turner's place and had been there about an hour.

He got out of the station wagon he was riding in and went down directly in front of Bill Turner's place where the car was parked and when he got to this car, Johnnie Burton was sitting in it on the other side, the right hand side of the car.

He said he walked up to the car and told Johnnie, "You did me wrong at Raymond's."

He said Johnnie started cursing and the boy driving the car asked him to get out. He said he got out. He showed me a distance of about ten feet, that is about how much they were standing apart. He said this boy had a knife in his hand and started toward him and he told him to stop. He said he shot twice, and the first time he thought he had him a1ong in here somewhere and the next shot he thought hit him in the stomach. He had a short.38 caliber Smith and Wesson.

By Juror:

Q. Was there a knife found on the victim?

A. Not by us. I looked before we left the place to go to the hospital. Georgia Mae Gilliam runs the place at Bill Turner's, she is the daughter of Bill Turner. She and her husband showed me about the spot where he was shot and I told them at that time I wanted to look before anybody disturbed anything to see if I could find a knife or pistol or my thing else that could have been used. She said, "Yes, sir, I wil1 help you." She and her husband helped me.

We looked the place over good with flashlights.

Q. Did you find a pistol?

A. Yes, we have the pistol.

Q. How many times had it been fired?

A. The empty cartridges had been removed but there were two empty spaces in the chamber.

Q. Who emptied the cartridges out?

A. I couldn't say who, I imagine George Wyatt.

Q. Could there have been a knife included in this or not, or do you think there would have been?

A. Well, it is possible. I didn't find any evidence of any.

Q. Were there any more witnesses who saw him that night?

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, we are not trying anybody tonight. We are here to determine how he came to his death, and there is no use questioning him any further about that.

Are there any other questions you would like to ask him?

JUROR: Are we supposed to decide whether he came to his death by self-defense?

CORONER SUMMER: You are supposed to determine how he came to his death, by what means and methods, whether by his own hands or at the hands of someone else.

Go ahead, Mr. Henderson.

THE WITNESS: I believe that is about all.

CORONER SUMMER: That was 1ast Friday night, the 4th of May?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: Any further questions you would like to ask him?

This happened in Newberry County?

THE WITNESS: Yes, sir.

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

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"May 10, 1956,

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that Johnnie Burton died as a result of a bullet wound of chest. The bullet entered his right shoulder, penetrating his chest and coming to rest in his heart. Sincerely, E. J. Dickert, M.D."

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen, you received your charge at the beginning of this inquest.

You have now heard the testimony concerning this matter.

Insert in your verdict the name of the party killed, the instrument with which killed and by whose hands he came to his death. If you find from this testimony that person or persons other than the deceased was responsible for his death, you will recommend in your verdict that such party or parties be held for grand jury investigation.

You will now go to the jury room to pass your verdict on how Johnnie Burton came to his death.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Will you read it please, Mr. Foreman?

THE F'OREMAN: We find that Johnnie Burton came to his death as the result of gunshot wounds at the hands of George Wyatt.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you gentlemen. You are excused.

(Whereupon, at 8:25 p.m., the inquest in the above-styled matter was ended.)


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken 8.t Newberry in the County and State aforesaid, the Eighteenth day of May A. D., one thousand nine hundred and Fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner; upon view of the body of Bobby Ray Branch, then and there being dead by the oaths of George D. Way, B. R. Roton, R. L. Sterling, R. E. Harvey, James L. Mack and Johnnie Stribble, being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and s worn to inquire for the State of South Carolina where and by what means the said Bobby Ray Branch came to his death, upon their oaths, do say he came to his death as the result of injuries received in a fall from a water tank on Kendall Company property when the ladder which he was climbing pulled loose.

AND so the s aid jurors aforesaid, upon t heir oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Bobby Ray Branch came to his death in the manner aforesaid.

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/ Geo. D. Way, Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ B. R. Roton (L. .S.)

/s/ R. L. Sterling (L.S.)

/s/ R. E. Harvey (L.S.)

/s/ James L. Mack (L.S.)

/s/ Johnnie Stribb1e (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman, will you stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the rest of you gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of Death of Bobby Ray Branch.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your Duty to listen to the testimony by t he witnesses and to determine from such testimony by what means the said Bobby Ray Branch came to his death.

Mr. Polly, would you please come around?

Whereupon, JAMES ORBIN POLLY was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Foreman, sir.

Q. What company do you work for?

A. Steel and Tank Service Company, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Q. Go ahead and tell these gentlemen of the jury what happened on the day of May 16, 1956?

A. Gentlemen, I will try to start from the beginning of the operation we were going to perform on this tank.

That probably might make it a little clearer. As we started to work on this tank, McFaddin, the other boy, was painting the leg, cleaning and spot coating the ladder leg. Maybe some of you know what that is. Bobby Ray Branch am myself, were going on top to install a revolving ladder on the roof and I had pulled up a short section of ladder with which we were going to install some wheels on that to make a revolving ladder to go all the way around the tank, fastened to the little ball on top of the tank. Branch had gone to the top of the tank up this same ladder and had pulled this small section of ladder up on top and well, I would say-I wouldn't say how long it was before I got there.

I went in the little stand and got a couple of drinks for the boys. I had one for myself and taken two up on to the tank and Branch and myself were installing the ladder. We had spliced the cables--that is the proper procedure, and this ladder that pulled loose, we were going to use it attached on the revolving ladder we had installed on the roof.

Branch went back down the ladder and unloosened two bolts at the bottom section of the ladder.

I was sitting on the roof. Branch started to climb back up the ladder. Just as he started back up, in the meantime my safety belt was fastened to the ladder, I stepped inside the tank approximately two steps down. That would be about two feet. I was going to hold the revolving ladder and when he reached the top, get a hold to that ladder and pull him to the top. Just about the time his hand was almost touching the ladder--I couldn't say how much it lacked, I could just see his right hand and his face as the ladder twisted.

That was the last I saw of the boy until he hit the ground. Momentarily I thought he was holding the ladder. I looked to see. He probably hollered for help. As I leaned over I heard the body hit the ground. I saw it. That is about all I saw of the accident, other than the rivets had pulled through the wall sheets.

The head of the rivets were bradded and pulled completely loose.

From all indications, they had been rusted off some time. There was no indication of a fresh break whatsoever.

That is about all I can explain. In fact, that is all I seen.

I didn't see the boy fall or if he hit on anything as he went down.

Q. How tall a section of ladder did you take off the tank?

A. I would say approximately 12 feet, sir. I didn't measure it. I taken for granted it was approximately 12 feet. It may not have been that long.

Q. After you said the boy reached for the ladder anti you looked to see what became of the ladder that broke loose from the tank?

A. It dropped approximately two feet, more or less to the length of my safety belt and stopped. Evidently the sudden stop on the ladder could have jerked him loose. I thought one time he might have been scared he might pull me off and tried to land to the back to keep from pulling me. That is just imagining. I do not know.

Q. After you saw he had fallen to the ground, what did you do with the ladder?

A. I pulled the ladder back up and taken the one I had hanging over the ball on top of the tank. That is where I left the ladder.

Q. Did you say how many bolts he took loose from the section?

A. Two.

Q. At the two braces, had he loosened the nuts on that?

A. Yes, sir, he had loosened the nuts on that.

Q. That is all you know about it?

A. That is all I know that happened. As far as the falling, I did not see or see if he hit anything.

Q. You say you were down in the hole, down in the tank?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were you standing in water?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. There is a ladder that goes inside the tank?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Is it customary for you to take the ladder loose from the tank when you are painting a tank?

A. Yes, sir we have done it, in fact ever since I have worked for the company. I think crews before me have done the same thing.

Q. Well, now, this ladder you took loose before you took it loose, does it extend above the rim of the tank or come even?

A. It extends above the tank roof; I would say the edge of it.

Q. Approximately how many feet tall was that tank, sir?

A. Well, the last estimation was on the tank, was 135 feet.

CORONER SUMMER: That will be all, sir. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. McFaddin, will you please come around?

GILBERT LOVE McFADDIN was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. What is your full name?

A. Gilbert Love McFaddin.

Q. Mr. McFaddin, who do you work for?

A. I work for Steel and Tank Service Company, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Q. What is your job?

A. Painter.

Q. Go ahead, Mr. McFaddin and tell these gentlemen of the just what happened on the 16th of this month?

A. Well, I was painting this last leg on this tank, which was the ladder leg and I had just finished it. I tied my rig off to a fence, which was rear the tank there, that had some transformers or whatever they were out there. I just had started back up the ladder. I was about 15 feet up the ladder leg, ladder column and which is usually a habit we have, looking up sometimes when we are climbing, I happened to glance up that very second that Branch started falling and I saw Branch fall to the cat railing. His head hit the railing. He went over the railing, made an attempt to grab the rig I had tied off the fence. He missed it with his hands and grabbed with his arms but he was coming at such a speed it broke his hold loose and he fell flat on his back to the ground.

That was what I seen. I may be able to clear a little better on that other about this revolving ladder, though.

He usually use this side ladder used on the tank unless it is welded. If it is bolted, we take the bolts loose.

It is safer to do this than to bring the other ladder up and connect them on down that way.

In the process of going through this, he had undone two bolts from the section he was going to put on there on the side of the tank.

He took the two bolts from the brads and was attempting to climb the ladder. This is a known fact.

I didn't see this but he was attempting to climb the ladder. When he had got almost to the top, the ladder as you know has a rim going up through. The reason it wasn't connected! to the revolving ladder on. the roof before anything took place was because it did extend about the edge up through that rim and you had to get it under the rim where it would revolve around the tank, otherwise it would have been connected before.

As he was climbing the ladder and was right at the braces, the ladder braces and rivets came loose and the ladder fell the length of Polly's safety belt.

He stepped down inside the tank or the ladder would have fell to the ground if his safety belt hadn't been on the ladder.

When the ladder fell, it jerked it inside of the tank.

If he had been on the roof, it would have jerked him off.

Q. How long had Mr. Branch been working with this company?

A. I would say possibly nine weeks.

Q. How long have you been with the company?

A. Four years.

Q. Do you know how long Mr. Polly has been with them?

A. I really don't know. I have been working with Mr. Polly about the same length of time--not quite as-much time--I would say about seven weeks with him.

Q. You said whenever the ladder broke he fell into the tank?

A. I said Mr. Polly, he had stepped down inside the tank. There is a little hatch there at the edge, down into the water a couple of feet to make room for Branch to get up on the revolving ladder, where he could get up on that and reach down and disconnect the remaining bolts from the braces on the ladder.

Q. Did you see Mr. Branch climbing back up the ladder after he had taken the bolts loose at the bottom?

A. No, I was busy painting. I saw him when he was working on the two bottom bolts and I didn’t pay much attention.

Usually when you are going to do that type of work, you are usually trying to watch what you are doing.

Q. Well, did you see him just before he fell as he w as going up the ladder?

A. I saw him just as soon as he was gone. In other words, I saw him coming down to hit the catwalk, I saw him waving his arms in sort of an arch. His head hit the railing. The balcony wasn't but about two feet around.

Q. You can walk all the way around the tank?

A. You can walk all the way around. He hit the balcony railing, which was, I would say his eye hit it and when he did he just rolled off. He was still conscious and he made an attempt to grab the rig I had just tied off and he made the rig but it was only for a split second he held. He missed with his hands, grabbed with his arms. It took the skin and every thing off his arms.

Q. Well, when you got to the ground where Mr. Branch was, did he say anything?

A. Mr. Branch was unconscious then. The first thing I did, I felt his pulse and his pulse was beating. I felt his heart.

It was weak, it was still pumping, though. I looked in his eyes. They had a death glare. I saw he was trying to throw up, vomit or something. I turned his head to the side and opened his mouth. I called this fellow in the mill, which was looking out of the window to call an ambulance.

CORONER SUMMER: That will be all. Thank you. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Henderson, come around.

Whereupon, L. L. HENDERSON was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Deputy Sheriff, Newberry County?

Q. On the afternoon of May 16, Mr. Henderson, go ahead and tell these gentlemen what your investigation turned up?

A. I believe I went up there that afternoon. I didn't see anything I could say much about that afternoon, but the next afternoon, I believe it was, you came by our office and I rode back up there and there was a section of ladder lying on the ground. About two-thirds of the way from the bottom part of the section to the top was a set of iron legs bolted to this ladder. I would say approximately 18 inches long. There were four rails of the ladder above those two legs, seven below. In the bottom section of the ladder were bolts that had been taken loose. There were indications they had been taken loose from another section of the ladder and in the legs that were bolted on to this ladder, there were some indications it had been riveted up on the tank of the water tank. You could see two holes and these rivets, seems they had been pulled out and as one of the gentlemen stated, there wasn't much of a head. It seemed they had rusted out pretty well and these rivets had pulled out. The two bolts that held the legs on to the ladder, that had been partially unloosed because the nuts were screwed almost to the end of the bolt. I believe that is about all I could say about it, just what I saw of the ladder.

Q. Those two bolts at the bottom, did they have a nut on them on the ladder?

A. The nuts, just from the looks of the ladder, seemed they had been bolted to another section and taken out and the bolts put back in the section that was on the ground and the nuts screwed back on.

Q. This happened in Newberry County, did it not?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. I believe I forgot. to ask what time this happened. Do you remember what time it was?

A. I don't know. I heard the ambulance when it left to go up there that day but for me to say what time it was I wouldn't be able to say.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, sir, that will be all. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"May 16, 1956.

To Whom It May Concern:

At 4:35 p.m., 5-16-56, I saw in the Emergency Room at Newberry County Memorial Hospital, a body identified as Bobby Ray Branch. Respiration had ceased at this time. Rigor mortis had not set in.

On examination, there were multiple scattered bruises. There was a hematoma of the eye but no evidence of skull fracture. The neck was unusually mobile and probably fractured. There was subcutaneous emphysema over the chest and the upper ribs were fractured as evidence of a crushing wound of the chest.

There were fractures, compound of the right arm 2nd comminuted of the right leg.

The man died of injuries, in my opinion, based on this post mortem inspection.

Signed, B. M. Montgomery, M.D."

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen, you have received the charge at the beginning of this inquest.

You have now heard the testimony concerning this matter.

You will insert in your verdict the name of the party killed, the instrument with which killed and by whose hands he met his death.

If you find from the testimony that some party or parties other than the deceased was responsible for his death, you will recommend in your verdict that such party or parties be held for grand jury investigation.

You will now go to the jury room and pass your verdict on how Bobby Ray Branch came to his death.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: "Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman, will you read it please?

THE FOREMAN: We find that Bobby Ray Branch came to his death as the result of injuries received in a fall from a water tank on Kendall Company property when the ladder which he was climbing pulled loose.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, gentlemen. You are excused.

(Whereupon, at 10:15 o'clock p.m., the inquest in the above-styled matter was closed.)


STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and state aforesaid, the 29th day of June A. D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Robert W. Whitlock then and there being dead by the oaths of George D. Way, B. R. Roton, Charles E. Leopard, R. E. Harvey, William P. Kunkle and S. A. Bedenbaugh, being a lawful jury of inquest who being charged and sworn to inquire, for the state of South Carolina were and by what means the said Robert W. Whitlock came to his death, upon their oaths, do say as a result of an auto mishap the car being driven by the said Robert W. Whitlock.

AND so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Robert W. Whitlock came to his death in the manner aforesaid.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, GEORGE R. SUMME, 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/ Geo. D. Way, Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ B. R. Roton (L.S.)

/s/ Charles E. Leopard (L.S.)

/s/ R. E. Harvey (L.S.)

/s/ William P. Kunkle (L.S.)

/s/ S. A. Bedenbaugh (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foreman of the jury stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the rest of you gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Robert W. Whitlock.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony given by the witnesses and to determine from such testimony by what means he came to his death.

Mr. Martin, come around.

Whereupon, W. J. MARTIN was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Highway patrolman.

Q. On June 5, 1956 did you have occasion to investigate a wreck on that morning of June 5?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Go ahead and tell these gentlemen of the jury what your investigation was?

A. Out here at the intersection of 76 and 176 By-pass, more or less known as Whit's place or Whit's Motor Court, that intersection, I got a call to the wreck and I went out. A Pontiac 1950 model had come into the intersection. Coming from Columbia, one fork goes to Greenville, the other comes into Newberry. There were tire marks about the middle of the intersection. They veered off to the left; the car hit the ditch and a small embankment. The car evidently was sideways. It hit a guide wire on a telephone post or electric pole and went up the guide wire a short ways, flipped over some hedges and landed bottom side upwards. As it went up the guide wire, the front end hit a small pine tree somewhere about 15 feet off the ground. The imprint of the wire was on the right back tender where that tender threw the guide wire up a short ways. In investigating, I found that--of course Mr. Whitlock had been moved when I got there--but I found he had fallen out of the car and the car had fallen bottom-side upwards on top of him. He was still living at the time he was moved.

He was dead at the time he arrived at the hospital.

Q. Did you see any skid marks or anything?

A. No, sir, nothing but tire marks where the car swerved to the left and hit the bank and back to the right, and I found no signs of a1cohol involved. The way it appeared to me, he was either driving too fast for conditions or went to sleep or it could have been both. This happened approximately 3:10 a.m. in the morning. It happened in Newberry County.

CORONER SUMMER: Are there any questions you gentlemen would like to ask him?

You stated what kind of car it was, didn't you, Mr. Martin?

THE WITNESS: Yes sir, Pontiac 1950 model.

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

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"June 21,1956,

To whom it May Concern:

This 1s to certify that I saw Mr. Robert W. Whitlock in the Emergency Room, Newberry County Hospital on June 5,1956 at about 5 A.M. Mr. Whitlock was dead on arrival and my opinion is that death was due to head injuries suffered in an auto accident. Yours Truly, /s/ E. G. Able, M.D."

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen, you received your charge at the beginning of this inquest. You have heard the testimony concerning this matter.

Insert in your verdict the name of the party killed, the instrument with which killed and by whose hands he met his death.

You may now go to the jury room to pass your verdict on how Robert W. Whitlock came to his death.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Will you read it please?

THE FOREMAN: We find that Robert W. Whitlock came to his death as a result of an auto mishap, the car being driven by the said Robert W. Whitlock.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, gentlemen. You are excused.

(Whereupon, at 7:20 p.m., the inquest in the above-styled matter was closed.)


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County end State aforesaid, the 16th day of July A.D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner upon view of the body of Bertha Mae Richardson then and there being dead by the oaths of J. M. Roland, Jessie Stohe, B. R. Roton, E. Leonard Nunnery, Jr., Alvin Jackson and E. G. Cotney 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 Bertha Mae Richardson came to her death, upon their oaths, do say she came to her death as the result of an automobile-truck collision, the truck being driven by the deceased and the car by Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr.

We recommend that Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr. be held for Grand Jury investigation.

AND so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Bertha Mae Richardson came to her death in the manner aforesaid and recommend that Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr. 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/ J. M. Roland, Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ Jessie Stone (L.S.)

/s/ B. R. Roton (L.S.)

/s/ E. Leonard Nunnery, Jr. (L.S.)

/s/ Alvin Jackson (L.S.)

/s/ E. G. Cotney

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Will the foreman of the jury stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the rest of you gentlemen stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: This is an inquest into the cause of death of Mrs. Bertha Mae Richardson.

Mr. Hack Wallace, come around.

HACK WALLACE was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. What is your business, Mr. Wallace?

A. Funeral director.

Q. On July 4, did you have a call to go on Highway 176 to a wreck?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Tell these gentlemen of the jury what took place down there, sir?

A. Approximately five or ten minutes of seven, I received a call and immediately went to the wreck.  Arriving at the wreck I saw two vehicles and I saw--at first I saw two ladies lying on the ground.  I picked those up and there was a gentleman come up to me and said he was in the wreck and asked me could he ride in with me. I told him yes and after I loaded them I returned to Newberry hospital.

Q. You brought this gentleman to the hospital with you?

A. He rode in the front with me and the two ladies in the rear.

Q. Did he give you his name, sir?

A. He said his name was Murphy.

CORONER SUMMER: That will be all, Mr. Wallace. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Robert Crenshaw, come around.

ROBERT CRENSHAW was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Mr. Crenshaw, go ahead and tell these gentlemen what took p1ace on July 4th

A. My wife and myself was coming from towards Columbia. We was down near Pomaria and we met this car.  It was running fast and about half way on the wrong side of the road and he run in the back of this truck and turned over twice.

Q. You say you met this automobile?

A. I met both of them.

Q. You were going towards Pomaria?

A. I was going towards Whitmire from Pomaria.

Q. They were going towards Pomaria?

A. That's right.

Q. You saw the accident happen?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was that just after you passed and had you gone on up the road?

A. No, sir, just as I met the car I looked up in the rear view mirror and saw it.

Q. After you got back to the wreck, what to ok place there, sir?

A. Well, there was a bunch of little jigs coming in the road and that man, he was there and two or three other white fellows that he passed. I taken him in the car with me. This little crippled lady and the old lady was out there and this other one was up in the pines.

Q. It threw her out of the truck?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You saw the truck turn over two times?

A. Yes, in my opinion it did. I saw it turn this way then it rolled twice.

Q. About what time of the day was this?

A. Well, I would say it was around between five and six o'clock. I don't know the exact time; it was well on in the afternoon, maybe later.

Q. You say this fellow driving the Chevrolet was driving in a reckless manner?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Would you say he was driving fast?

A. He was driving real fast.

Q. Mr. Crenshaw, could you tell whether the car hit the truck or the truck hit the car?

A. The car hit the truck about that much of the back bumper on the left hand side. When he met me, I had to run out of the road to keep him from hitting me. He was swerving back trying to dodge me. When he turned back he didn't have room.

Q. He ran into the side of the truck?

A. The back bumper, flipped the truck like that, rolled over in the ditch and reversed.

Q. About how many miles from Pomaria was that, sir?

A. Right there where those colored people were having that barbecue, I would say a mile and a half, or two miles, maybe not that far. I am not very familiar with that section of the country.

Q. Could you smell any whiskey or anything on anyone?

A. I didn't smell any whiskey. I saw a can of beer lying in the road that was spilled out. I am satisfied the man was drunk. He was down over this woman cursing, talking about he would pay for it, it didn't make a damn what it cost.

Q. That is all you know about the case?

A. That's right.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Allen Reighley, come around.

D. A. REIGHLEY was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Highway patrolman, Newberry County, State of South Carolina.

Q. Go ahead and tell these gentlemen of the jury what you investigated on July 4th

A. On July 4 in the afternoon about seven o’clock in the afternoon, I received a telephone call at my house that there was an accident north of Pomaria on 176, so I proceeded to go on down to where the accident scene was.

When I arrived at the accident, it was a mile and four-tenths north of Pomaria on 176, north of the town limits sign and it was one-tenth of a mile south of the intersection of 8-36-97.

When I arrived at the scene there was a pick-up truck and a Chevrolet automobile.

The truck was a Chevrolet, too. The occupants of both vehicles had already departed by ambulance or what not and about that time Patrolman Abrams came and we proceeded to go ahead with the investigation. There was a 1950 Chevrolet in the middle of the highway headed back in the direction of Whitmire, which would be north.

He was headed south on Highway 176 and this car had turned around and was headed back north.

The pick-up truck Chevrolet pickup was also headed back in the opposite direction that it was going and it was--it would be on the left side in the ditch heading north. All indications were that both vehicles were going in the same direction. That is a straight road there, it is kind of on a grade and the road was dry at that time.

There wasn't any defect in the highway and it was daylight at the time it happened and it was a little cloudy.

Q. Were there any skid marks in the road?

A. There were skid marks in the highway. That highway, the paved portion of the highway is 24 feet in width and the shoulder which was involved in the accident was eleven feet in width. From the skid marks that was in the highway from the starting of the skid marks on the right side of the highway heading south, seven feet from the centerline. There was the right wheels of the vehicle; the left wheels of the Chevrolet vehicle car made marks on down the highway indicating the starting of the skid marks was the right hand side of the Chevrolet car.

That skid mark ran for overall width of 114 feet and the indication where the impact took place was a break in the skid marks, indicating an impact and this skid mark continued on from there on to the Chevrolet automobile.

From what was indicated as the point of impact to where the Chevrolet pick-up was, was 86 feet overall.

Now this first skid mark from where the impact took place or overall from the time the automobile started the skid marks, the overall length there, would be 157 feet from the time the skid marks started.

From the point of impact to the center of the highway was four feet on the right side of the highway headed south.

All of this took place on the right side of the highway going in a southerly direction.

The Chevro1et car right front fender and so forth was damaged to a great extent. The Chevrolet pick-up was damaged left rear of the body about 18 inches to two feet from the corner of the body on the back of the truck, indicating that it had been hit very hard back on the rear. The same way with the automobile.

It had a great deal of damage on the right side of the car.

The truck, there was evidence of the truck being turned over one or more times.

The body was bent in on the top end both sides. Before the cars were cleared out of the highway, the car and the truck, left the accident scene and came on to Newberry on to Newberry Hospital.

I cal1ed for Martin to go by the hospital and he went by the hospital and found out that the driver or the man who said he was the driver of the Chevrolet car was not hurt and he brought him on back out to where I was at the intersection of 34 and 76, bypass.

At that time, I found out it was Mr. Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr.

He told me he was the only one in the car and the driver of the car and he gave me his address as 3744 Kingsborough Road, Atlanta, Georgia. He told me he was headed from Atlanta to Charlotte and I asked him what direction was he going to go to Charlotte and he said he was going 72 on through Chester up through there to Charlotte.

I to1d him he got off his road a little bit and he said he knew he wasn't off the road, he had been that road a lot of times and he knew where he was going. I started on to the county jail with him.

I saw Mr. Murphy was in a very high under the influence of some alcoholic beverages.

He asked me on the way to jail was he in Calhoun Falls. I told him no, he was a good ways from Calhoun Falls. That is the last time I have talked to Mr. Murphy since then.

Q. This happened in Newberry County?

A. It happened in Newberry County, yes, sir, Highway 176 a mi1e and four-tenths north of Pomaria town limits, one-tenth of a mile south of intersection 8-36-97.

Q. Could you say approximately what speed he was driving when the impact took place?

A. I might state I went on to the hospital after locking Mr. Murphy up in the county jail and received all the necessary information from the doctors and so forth from the hospital of the injured and I think that is about all.

Q. How many were in the truck, Mr. Reighley?

A. From the information I received at the hospital there were the driver which was told to me of being the driver, a Mrs. Bertha M. Richardson, Route 3, Prosperity and there was a Bertha M. Myers, Route 3, Prosperity, 10 years old colored female, she was admitted but released the next morning. Mrs. Richardson, they transferred her to a Columbia Hospital and there was a Mrs. Lucy Graham of Route 1, Pomaria and there was a Miss B. Graham of Route 1, Pomaria. There was four in the pick-up truck, all that was injured that I got.

The only one I could get that was in the Chevrolet was Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr.  He was riding by himself from what he told me.

Q. Did you measure the distance it threw Mrs. Richardson from the car?

A. I didn't see Mrs. Richardson at all.

Q. Is there anything else you can add to this?

A. No, sir, I believe that is all.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, that will be all, thank you. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Patrolman Abrams, come around.

D. E. ABRAMS was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Patrolman Abrams, is there anything you can add to what Mr. Reighley has testified?

A. The only thing, I c an verify his testimony as to measurements and I would like to sort of explain the difference in skid marks. When we go to a wreck, we know the difference between a brake mark and a skid mark caused from impact.

From our observations of skid marks before and after the impact was caused, not from brakes but from momentum of fast moving vehicles, the first skid mark he spoke of was in my opinion a skid mark where a car was moving at a high rate of speed and swerved to miss something, then from the end of that skid mark to where the vehicle stopped were caused from the cars turning in the road and sliding sideways.

There were no brake marks, but skid marks from momentum of vehicles.

That is about all.

CORONER SUMMER: All right, that will be all. Thank you. (Witness excused)

CORONER SUMMER: Patrolman Abrams, come around.

D. E. ABRAMS was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Patrolman Abrams, is there anything you can add to what Mr. Reighley has testified?

A. The only thing I can verify his testimony as to measurements and I would like to sort of explain the difference in skid marks. When we go to a wreck we know the difference between a brake mark and a skid mark caused from impact.

From our observation of skid marks before and after the impact was caused, not from brakes but from momentum of fast moving vehicles. The first skid marks he spoke of was in my opinion a skid mark where as car was moving at a high rate of speed and swerved to miss something. Then from the end of that skid mark to where the vehicle stopped were caused from the cars turning in the road and sliding sideways. There were no brake marks, bur skid marks from momentum of vehicles. That is about all.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, Mr. Abrams. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Sheriff Fellers, come around.

T. M. FELLERS was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. What position do you hold?

A. Sheriff of Newberry County.

Q. On July 4, what were your duties that day, sir?

A. On July 4 when Jailer Mr. Berley Shealy was on vacation, I was keeping jail. About 1:30 or a quarter of eight, Mr. Reighley brought in a white man to the Newberry County jail and he told me he wouldn't write him up until the occupants of the car, or at least one of them was in pretty bad shape, he wanted to wait to see the outcome.

At that time, I didn't know who they were. Fact of the business is I didn't until the next morning. Since that time I can't add any more than Mr. Reighley said. I had a conversation with this man. From that conversation I learned that he was driving and no one was with him.

Q. On July 4 when Mr. Reighley brought him in to you, will you tell what his condition was?

A. He was in a very high state under the influence of some alcohol. Fact of the business is he wasn't rational.

Q. That is about all you know?

A. Yes, sir.

CORONER SUMMER: That is all. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor's statement:

"To Whom It May Concern:

The cause of death of Mrs. Mae Richardson was as follows:

1. Head injuries with skull fracture and sub-arachnoid hemorrhage.
2. Severe chest injuries with contusion of lung and multiple rib fractures, bilateral hemo-thorax.
3. Ruptured spleen with hemo-peritoneum.

Signed E. R. Taylor, M.D.

1515 Bull Street, Columbia, S. C."

You gentlemen have heard the testimony in this case tonight.

You will now retire to the jury room and pass a verdict on how Mrs. Richardson came to her death.

You will insert the name of the person, what instrument or by those hands she met her death, whether by the deceased or by someone else and if you find she came to her death by persons other than the deceased you will recommend whether or not the party be held for Grand Jury investigation.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: This is the verdict of the jury:

Bertha Mae Richardson came to her death as the result of an automobile-truck collision, the truck being driven by the deceased and the car by Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr.

We recommend that Claude Jackson Murphy, Jr. be held for Grand Jury investigation.

Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you, gentlemen. That concludes the inquest.

(Whereupon, at 8:45 p.m., the inquest in the above-styled matter was closed.)


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Newberry in the County and state aforesaid, the 24th day of August A.D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R, SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the body of Dan Bailey then and there being dead by the oaths Roland Hawkins, Sims Tompkins, Wyman Shealy, Bobby L. Crooks, James C. Shealy and Curtis P. Turner 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 Dan Bailey came to his death, upon their oaths do say he came to his death as the result of knife wounds by the hand of Junior Caldwell.

We recommend that he will beheld for Grand Jury investigation.

AND so the s aid jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Den Bailey came to his death in the manner aforesaid and recommend that Junior Caldwell 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/ Roland Hawkins, Foreman, (L.S.)

/s/ Sims Tompkins (L.S.)

/s/ Wyman Shealy (L.S.)

/s/ Bobby L. Crooks, Jr. (L.S.)

/s/ James C. Shealy (L.S.)

/s/ Curtis P. Turner (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: Will the foreman of the jury stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN:

Will the rest of you gentlemen please stand?)

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Dan Bailey.

As members of the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony given by the witnesses and to determine from such testimony by what means he came to his death.

Mr. Henderson, come around.

L. L. HENDERSON was s worn and testified as follows:

By DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN:

Q. Mr. Henderson, go ahead and tell the jury what happened in this matter.

A. On Sunday, August 19 about, just a little after twelve o'clock noon Sunday, the Sheriff's office received a call that there had been a killing out at the old Caldwell place. Sheriff Fellers and Hugh K. Shannon and myself went out there to where the Caldwells now live. We found Dan Bailey just a short distance behind the house dead.

Junior Caldwell told me he had cut his throat with a knife and he had died from those wounds. This happened in Newberry County.

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: Are there any questions you gentlemen wou1d like to ask?

Thank you, Mr. Henderson, you're excused.) (Witness excused.)

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: This is the doctor's statement:

"To Whom It May Concern:

August 24, 1956,

Re: Danie1 Bailey.

This colored male was seen at William's Funeral Home at 2:10 p.m. August 19, 1956.

He was dead when first seen. Death was due to a stab wound to the left side of the neck severing the great vesse1s of the neck."

Signed, B. M. Montgomery, M. D.

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen, you received your charge at the beginning of this inquest.

You have heard the testimony concerning the matter.

Insert in your verdict the name of the party killed, the instrument with which killed and by whose hands he met his death. If you find he met his death at the hands of party or parties other than the deceased, you will recommend in your verdict that such party or parties be held for grand jury investigation.

You may now go to the jury room to pass your verdict on how Dan Bailey came to his death.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: Gentlemen, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: This is the verdict of the jury:

"Dan Bailey came to his death as the resu1t of knife wound by the hand of Junior Caldwell.

We recommend that he will beheld for Grand Jury investigation."

Is that your verdict so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

DEPUTY CORONER MARTIN: Thank you gentlemen. You are excused.

(Whereupon at 8:20 p.m. the inquest in the above-styled matter was closed.)


THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF NEWBERRY

AN INQUISITION, indented, taken at Whitmire in the County and State aforesaid, the 23rd day of November A. D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before GEORGE R. SUMMER, Coroner, upon view of the bodies of Walter Easler and James B. Boiter then and there being dead by the oaths of Leroy Wilson, Clifford H. Waits, James H. Long, I. D. Wilson, R. E. Harvey and N. B. Warren Jr., 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 Walter Easler and James B. Boiter came to their deaths, upon their oaths do say from injuries received in an auto accident. The auto being driven by James Hunnicutt, and we recommend he be held for Grand Jury investigation.

AND so the said jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say, that the aforesaid Walter Easler and James B. Boiter came to their death in the manner aforesaid, and that the aforesaid James Hunnicutt should 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/ Leroy Wilson, Foreman (L.S.)

/s/ Clifford H. Waits (L.S.)

/s/ James H. Long (L.S.)

/s/ I. D. Wilson (L.S.)

/s/ R. E. Harvey (L.S.)

/s/ N. B. Warren, Jr. (L.S.)

PROCEEDINGS

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman, will you stand and be sworn?

(Whereupon, the foreman of the jury was duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Will the rest of the jurors stand?

(Whereupon, the members of the jury were duly sworn.)

CORONER SUMMER: Gentlemen, this is an inquisition into the cause of death of Walter Easler and James B. Boiter.

As members of' the jury in this matter, it is your duty to listen to the testimony given by the witnesses and to determine from such testimony where and by what means the said Walter Easler and James B. Boiter came to their death.

Mr. Tom Henderson, come around.

TOM HENDERSON was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Deputy Sheriff.

Q. Did you have occasion to investigate a wreck on August 20, 1956?

A. I did.

Q. Go ahead Mr. Henderson and tell the gentlemen of the jury what you investigated on the date of August 20, 1956.

A. We received a call about 2:15 that day and of course when I got to the scene this car was turned bottom upwards in the road. Under the car was Walter Easler and a fellow by the name of Boiter. It looked like he run the shoulder for about 75 feet, hit the embankment and just flipped over backwards.

Q. Could you tell which person was where in the car, Mr. Henderson?

A. Yes.

Q. Go ahead and tell these gentlemen where Mr. Easler's body was underneath the car.

A. I have a picture here to show if you would like to see it. (Shows picture to jury.) We had to raise the car a little.  Don't you see the body - right here is Mr. Easler. His head was hanging on the windshield crosspiece. He was at the front of the car, in the front seat. Right under the rear seat was Mr. Boiter. We couldn't see anything except hisfeet and legs. His head was up near the back seat. Of course we had to raise the car to get them out like that.

Q. Could you tell my signs of alcohol at the scene of the wreck, Mr. Henderson?

A. No, sir.

Q. That happened in Newberry County?

A. That's right.

Q. At the time you got to the accident, did you know whether anyone else was in the car with these two fellows?

A. Not at that time, no, sir.

Q. Is there anything else you can add to your statements about this accident, sir?

A. I don't believe so.

CORONER SUMMER: Are there any questions you gentlemen would like to ask? That will be all.

(Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Earl Willingham, come around.

EARL WILLINGHAM was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Mr. Willingham, you operate a wrecker in Newberry County?

A. That is right.

Q. Go ahead and tell the gentlemen of the jury where, at the accident, you found the bodies of these men who were killed in the accident?

A. Well, now one man had, it appeared, he went out through the windshield when the car turned over. The car was down flat and the frame of the windshield had his head pinned in. I didn't know either one of the two, but several people from Whitmire said the man with his head out the windshield was Walter Easler. As far as me knowing him, I didn't know. I don't know the man. The other man, his head was to the rear of the car. It was laying right where the cloth top and metal joins at the rear of the car. It was a convertible.

Q. Which side of the car was Mr. Easler on?

A. Right hand side of the ear in the front.

Q. Not on the driver's side?

A. No, his head was just where the windshield wiper fastens on the right hand side. There was an imprint made in the cowl of the car where his head was.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. H. B. West, come around.

H. B. WEST was s worn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. Mr. West, on August 20, 1956, did you happen to see someone walking along the road or falling on the road?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Go ahead and tell the gentlemen of the jury what you saw.

A. I was running a bulldozer down on Mr. Suber's farm. I was, I guess around 50 or 15 yards off the highway. I saw a convertible go by. I just glanced up; I didn't pay any particular attention to it. I seen it when it passed by. I guess ten or fifteen minutes later I glanced at the road. I was grubbing stumps, and I seen the man fall. I cut the motor off and hollered and asked what was wrong. He said he had been in a wreck, to help him. There were three colored men there. I called them and they came and picked him up and put him in a truck and we brought him to Whitmire.

The doctor at Whitmire said he couldn't do anything for him. We carried him on to Union.

Q. When you first saw this car go by, could you tell what speed it was going?

A. I didn't pay any attention to it. After the wreck I got to trying to think about it. I couldn't remember that it was going too fast. You know, I just wasn't paying any attention to it, but I couldn't estimate the speed.

Q. Did you know the man that had feel there in the road when you got to him, sir?

A. I never seen him as I know of.

Q. Did he tell you his name, sir?

A. No, sir, I didn't ask him, he didn't tell me.

Q. Is there anything else you can add to this?

A. About all it was to it that I knew about.

Q. Who went with you to carry him to the clinic?

A. That colored fellow sitting over there.

Q. And after you came to Whitmire Clinic, you carried him on to Union?

A. The doctor came out there and said he couldn't do anything for him, to take him on to Union. I thought there was a hospital here. I should have carried him to Newberry. I thought there was a place here.

Q. Do you know about what time this was when he went by in the car?

A. No, I don't. Sometime after dinner, not too long after dinner.

Q. After you saw the car go by, you say it was about 15 minutes before he came back?

A. I wasn't keeping--I didn't have any reason to keep track of the time. It seemed like it must have been ten or fifteen minutes. I picked him up. According to my speedometer, it was three-tenths of a mile from where I picked him up to where the car turned over.

Q. After you got to him, what did he tell you, sir.

A. I said, "Didn't you pass here a few minutes ago?" and he said, "Yes." I said, "Wasn't there some more men with you?"   He said, "Yes." I said, "Where are they?" and he said, "They are under the car, I think they are dead."

Q. Is that all you can tell about it?

A. That is about all I know.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Ed Hunter, come around.

ED HUNTER was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. On August 20, 1956, what were you doing?

A. I was working down at Mr. John Robert Suber's.

Q. Were you working along with Mr. West?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. At the time this fellow came walking back up the road, did you see him?

A. Yes, sir, I seen him.

Q. Did you see the car when it went by?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Could you tell what speed it was going?

A. Well, I imagine it was passing pretty fast when I seen it. About how fast, I don't know, but pretty fast.

Q. The people in it, could you tell whether one was driving or the other?

A. No, sir, I wasn't close enough to it. I was a good piece off the road.

Q. Did you go to the road where Mr. Hunnicutt was?

A. Where the wreck happened?

Q. Where this man fell.

A. I didn't go when he picked him up. I went afterwards.

Q. Is there anything else you can add to this? That is about all I know other than I went up there to the wreck. The rest is about the same thing.

CORONER SUMMER: Do any of you gentlemen wish to ask him any questions?

That is all. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Carl Cromer, come around.

CARL CROMER was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. On August 20,1956, Mr. Cromer, did Mr. Hunnicutt and these two other gentlemen come by your home?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. About what time was that?

A. I would say about one o’clock. The reason I know, this colored fellow who works down at Suber's, he asked what time it was so he would get there on time. It was fifteen minutes until one then. He hadn’t left but a few minutes.

The exact time I couldn’t tell.

Q. Who was driving the car when they left there?

A. Hunnicutt went out and got in the car under the wheel. The other two went after he did out to the car.

Q. Could you tell whether or not they were drinking?

A. I couldn't tell. I didn't pay any attention. They didn't drink any there.

Q. How long did they stay at your place?

A. They didn't stay but a few minutes, I would say ten or fifteen minutes.

Q. Did they tell you where they were going, sir?

A. No, sir, they did n' t.

Q. Is there anything else you can add?

A. That is about all I know. I didn't know any more until some fellow come there and asked where the wreck was.  I told him I didn't know anything about it.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Ira Dunbar, come around.

IRA DUNBAR was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. On August 20, were you working down there with Mr. West?

A. I was just sitting in the truck in the field where he was working at, a couple hundred yards from where he was working.

Q. Go ahead and tell these gentlemen of the jury what happened?

A. I happened to be sitting in the truck looking toward the road and I seen someone waving his hands and hollering for help. We kept watching and when he fell, Mr. West stopped and got to him before we did. He told us to run where he was. Mr. Hunnicutt said he was hurt. I asked what was the matter. He said he was in a wreck. He said there were two other s in the car and he thought they were dead.

Q. Where did you put him when you picked him up?

A. I sat in the foot of the truck and laid his head in my lap.

Q. Could you tell whether he had been drinking?

A. No, sir, I couldn't tell at all if he was drinking. He talked good all the way to the hospital.

Q. Did you ask him who was driving the car?

A. No, sir.

Q. That is about all you know?

A. Yes, sir, that is about all.

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

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. D. F. Smith, come around.

D. F. SMITH was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

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

A. Patrolman, Newberry County.

Q. Did you investigate this wreck on August 20th?

A. I did. I had a call approximately 130 that there was a wreck on highway 36-51, which is seven miles and six-tenths southwest of Whitmire. When I arrived I found a Ford convertible 1956. In my findings, measurements, I would like for the jury if they would like to come over and I will explain what I found in my findings. (Shows diagram.)

This is Highway 36-51 here. The tire mark where the first impact started skidding left down the road 80 feet, went down the ditch and embankment 147 feet and the car overturned back in the road and the road was 18 feet wide.

In my investigation I found I came back to Mrs. Boiter's later. I found that Walter Easler and Mr. Boiter was the two deceased. I went to Mrs. Boiter's house and asked her could she give me the time they left there. She said, "Certainly I will. It was approximately one o'clock." She said, "I begged my husband not to go because they was drinking too much and I didn't want him to go."

Q. That is Mr. Boiter's wife?

A. That's right, so I went to Mrs. Easler's, wife of the deceased Walter Easler and told her about the wreck. So I left there and went to Mr. Carl Cromer's which I heard later that they left his place and asked him about the subjects leaving there. He made a statement to me that it appeared to him all of them to be drinking. The Hunnicutt boy, he said, was driving the automobile and taking off in a very reckless manner and about 15 minutes or half hour, from fifteen to thirty minutes, someone came back and told him they had done wrecked. That is all I know about it.

Q. Is this a curve?

A. You know John Robert Suber's place--this is a bridge, this is where the impact taken place. There is a sharp curve.

The car went on the left hand side of the road, 80 feet skid marks, l47 feet skid marks in the ditch and embankment. In my findings I found on the little glass on the left hand side was flesh of some person, it appeared to come off an arm, which had hair and meat, flesh on the glass. That is about all I know about it unless you can ask me anything else.

Q. Could you determine about what speed the automobile was traveling?

A. I would determine the speed at about 80 or 85 mils an hour, after measuring the skid marks and it was upgrade all the time when the car was traveling.

Q. The car went off the left hand side?

A. Left hand side. It went up a ditch and hit an embankment and turned back in the road.

Q. Did you say what model automobile it was?

A. 1956 convertible Ford.

Q. Was it dry or wet, Mr. Smith?

A. It was kind of damp.

Q. Clear weather?

A. It was clear weather.

Q. Is there anything else you can add to this?

A. No, sir, I don't know of anything else.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: Is Mr. James Hunnicutt here?

Mr. Hunnicutt, before I swear you in, I wish to inform you that you need not make a statement, but you may make a statement if you like. Whatever you say can be used for or against you. Would you like to make a statement?

MR. HUNNICUTT: I would like to make a statement.

JAMES HUNNICUTT was sworn and testified as follows:

By CORONER SUMMER:

Q. All right, Mr. Hunnicutt, go ahead and make whatever statement you would like to make.

A. On August 20, I went to Mr. Easler's house the morning the wreck occurred and we were talking about, he asked me the day before about taking him to Newberry and I went over there that morning about taking him to Newberry. While I was there, Mrs. Easler asked me about fixing her washing machine, which I did. During the time, they was always asking me about throwing my voice. I was always entertaining the crowd. There was several people around at the time and I did it until my throat got sore and I went in and laid down on the couch.

I don't know how long I was there. After the crowd left, but to get back to the crowd, Mrs. Smith came up and I didn't want her to think I was keeping her husband there. She had been there before and I went and laid on the couch.

Mr. Easler came in. I don't know how long I was on the couch. I dozed off. He asked if I was going to take him to Newberry and I said yeah. Mr. Boiter came in and asked about me taking him to pawn a rifle. He asked Mr. Easler and Mr. Easler said maybe he could get me. That was after he woke me up. I stated I would go with him provided he would ride to Newberry then go back because it would be out of my way.

We went to Mr. Boiter's house. I stayed in the car. Mr. Easler got out and went in. Mr. Boiter came out and put the rifle in the back seat. We left there and went to Mr. John Robert's place and taken to the right and went to the top of the hill after crossing the creek and came back and parked on this side of the bridge. Mr. Easler wanted to see about a five gallon keg he had hidden up the creek.

Leaving there, we went on to where the wreck occurred. When we hit the bridge, the bridge kind of bounced.

During the excitement, I don't know--the fire was knocked off of a cigarette on the seat. The car was over on the left hand side. During the excitement, I don't know whether I mashed the accelerator or whether a tire blew out.  It went into the bank and flopped over. I knew it threw me up.  When I came up, I tried to open the car door, and I couldn't. I seen the windshield all splattered.  I knew if the guys wasn't on my side they had to be under the car.

I was walking and I fell a couple of times. I was going to get help. I remembered the guy running the bulldozer and I walked all the way d own there and hollered as best I could to get help. That. is all I can add.

Q. You were driving the automobile?

A. Yes, I was driving.

Q. Would you say what speed you were driving?

A. No, sir, I can't say. It was a new automobile and my brother had the speedometer disconnected. It was up for inspection.

Q. Had you all been drinking?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know about what time of the day that was?

A. I would say it was 12:30 when I left Mr. Easler's house. I wouldn't say what time it was when the wreck occurred.  There was no watch or clock in the crowd as far as I know.

Q. When Mr. Easler went up the bank to check--

A. It wasn't up the bank, it was down the bank. No one was with him. I got out of the car and got e drink of water and got back in the car again.

CORONER SUMMER: Is there anything you gentlemen would like to ask?

BY JUROR: What was supposed to be in that keg he was checking?

THE WITNESS: Well, I didn't ask him that. He stated to me he had the keg sold. I don't know what was in it and I didn't go to see.

BY JUROR: You didn't have any idea what was in it?

THE WITNESS: No, sir. I would like to make it clear to the gentlemen of the jury. I am on probation and not allowed to be around intoxicating beverages.

CORONER SUMMER: Are there any other questions you would like to ask?

That is all, Mr. Hunnicutt, thank you. (Witness excused.)

CORONER SUMMER: This is the doctor’s statement:

"8-20-56

To Whom It May Concern:

Walter Easler and James Burton Boiter met their death by accident.

Injury was cerebral concussion and multiple fracture and lacerations.

K. D. Lake, M.D."

Mr. Foreman and Gentlemen, you received your charge at the beginning of this inquest.

You have heard the testimony concerning this matter.

Insert in your verdict the name of the party killed, the instrument with which killed and by whose hands he met his death.

If you find from this testimony that some party or parties other than the deceased was responsible for their deaths, you will recommend that such party or parties be held for Grand Jury investigation.

You may now retire to the jury room.

(Whereupon, the jury retired, and after deliberation, returned to the courtroom.)

CORONER SUMMER: Mr. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?

THE FOREMAN: We have.

CORONER SUMMER: Will you read it please?

THE FOREMAN: We find that Walter Easler and James B. Boiter came to their deaths from injuries received in an auto accident. The auto being driven by James Hunnicutt, and we recommend he be held for Grand Jury investigation.

CORONER SUMMER: Is that your verdict, so say you all?

THE JURORS: Yes.

CORONER SUMMER: Thank you gentlemen, you are excused.

(Whereupon, at 9:00 o'clock p.m., the inquest in the above-styled matter was closed.)

 

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