Norfolk Landmark, September 24, 1885

The Pitts Murder Trial.

Moral -- Murder

The third day of the Pitts murder trial yesterday in the County Court attracted a larger crowd of spectators than previously. Mr. Neely having recovered form his illness was present and the remainder of the jury was drawn and impaneled for the trial as follows: Parke Poindexter, B. B. Wilson, Lemuel McLean, C. Miller, Luther Etheredge, Thomas W. Butt, H. F. Grinalds, J. G. Mallen, Samuel A. Etheridge J. B. Ferratt, Ira Armstrong and J. G. DeBaum.

Mr. James U. Dennis, a lawyer of Princess Anne, Maryland, uncle of the prisoner, arrived yesterday and was introduced to the court as associate council, and engaged in the defense. Mr. James G. Holladay, of Portsmouth, also joined the counsel for the defense yesterday.

Court opened about half past ten o'clock and all the testimony was taken for the prosecution, and one witness was examined for the defense, as follows:

For the Commonwealth -- John Thomas, A. Parks, John T. Parks, C. S. Baker, Smith Walter, Peter Davis, John E. West, Julia A. Parks, Mrs. Caroline Thomas, Evaline Thomas, Richard A. Spence, Elisha Crockett, Patrick H. Connorton, George. T. Scarburgh, J. S. Bull, Willie Parks, Cary Crockett, Mrs. Mary Walter, James O. Striggles, Wm. B. Jacobs and Dr. O. B. Finney.

The testimony of George M. Thomas was read form the record of the trial at Hampton.

For the Defense -- Mrs. Caroline Thomas.

There was no one who saw the deed actually committed, and the evidence was as to facts before and after the homicide and relative to it. Several witnesses near the office of Dr. Pitts when the deceased and the prisoner were together swore as to hearing the two quarrelling in loud tones and the noise and scuffle, and then the pistol shots, and discovery of Dr. Walter's body lying outside and Dr. Pitts leaning over him feeling his pulse; the description of the room where the tragedy took place; Dr. Pitt's appeal to Capt. Elisha Crockett to take him to Onancock was given and the description of his arrest by Notary Public Connorton, and the remarks of the prisoner when he gave up his pistol and cartridges, caused a lively scene for a moment between opposing counsel. Rev. C. S. Baker described his visit to the place of the tragedy and exhibited and explained a diagram of the room. The evidence of Dr. Scarburgh, who was justice of the peace and coroner at the time, and Dr. Finney, describe the four wounds of the deceased, and gave their theory of shooting. The pistol with which Dr. Walter was killed, with several cartridges in it was here exhibited to the jury and recognized by Dr. Scarburgh as the one taken from the prisoner. A ball taken from the clothing of the deceased was also produced and shown. Several witnesses testified to the sickness of Dr. Walter and his size, strength, etc. Willie Parks told of Dr. Pitts wanting to swap pistols with him a day or two before the tragedy and his purchasing cartridges. J. E. Striggles testified as to a conversation with Dr. Pitts about the affair.

Mrs. Mary Walter, wife of the deceased, dressed in deep mourning, went on the stand and testified. She said that when she and her husband returned to Tangier Island after his sickness and six months absence she met Dr. Pitts and he shook hands with her and said "Why, I thought you were not coming back here." I answered that my husband thought it best to do so, and we therefore came. He (Dr. Pitts) appeared indignant at our coming back to the Island, and I so observed to my husband a short time afterwards. My husband said he did not see what he (Dr. Pitts) had to do with it." Mr. Neely asked if she had before testified that Dr. Pitts smiled pleasantly when he met her. She said she had no recollection of having said Dr. Pitts smiled, but that his manner toward her at the time impressed her sensibly and made her feel very bad.

Mrs. Caroline Thomas was recalled and examined for the Commonwealth and then by the defense.

Here the case rested, and the jury was placed in the hands of the sheriff, and the court adjourned to 10 o'clock this morning.

The argument will be commenced this afternoon.

Norfolk Landmark
Norfolk, Virginia
September 24, 1885