Norfolk Landmark, September 25, 1885

The Pitts-Walter Murder Trial.

Moral -- Murder

The fourth day of the Pitts Walter murder trial in the County Court yesterday attracted a larger crowd of spectators than on any day yet. On opening court the examination of witnesses for the defense was resumed.

John Fox, of Accomack, the principal witness for the defense and room mate and intimate associate of the prisoner until about ten days previous to the homicide, testified to an interview on the day before the tragedy, between Pitts and Walter about the latter having agreed to charge Mrs. George Thomas $1.50 per visit. That Pitts told Walter it was an undermining piece of business, but after Walter explained, both gentlemen seemed satisfied and agreed to meet next day and arrange a schedule of fees. The witness proceeded to tell what Dr. Pitts told him about ten minutes after the tragedy, when witness met him and saw the evidence of a blow on his face, but the Commonwealth's Attorney objected and the motion was sustained by the court on the ground that the prisoner had time to fabricate a story. This statement of Dr. Pitts to Fox was to be effect that he had just had a difficulty with Walter coming out of a discussion regarding a tariff of fees. That during the conversation Walter call him a liar and struck him, knocking him out of his chair, and then kicked him, whereupon he, Pitts, shot Dr. Walter three of four times.

Miss Emeline Thomas was placed on the stand, and testified that she never at any time, had the conversation with Mr. Thomas Crockett that he swore she did have with him about Walter and Pitts fighting before the pistol shots were fired.

Rev. W. C. Baker was placed on the stand and stated that the reputation of Mr. Crockett, on Tangier Island, for veracity and general truthfulness was not very good.

Here Mr. Neely, counsel for the prisoner, pitched into the witness heavily, charging him with prejudice and ill will against the prisoner, and asking him: "Did you not say on the island you would do anything to break the prisoner's neck."

The witness answered that he did say so with a proper qualification. He said that he would do it fairly, justly and truthfully, not otherwise.

Mr. Neely -- "You are a preacher, are you not?"

Witness -- "Yes sir."

Mr. Neely -- "Is it your vocation to urge the saving of souls or to break necks?"

Witness -- "It is my vocation to urge the saving of souls and in the cause of justice to break necks also."

To show that the witness was prejudiced, Mr. Neely read a letter written by witness and published in the Eastern Shore Virginian, giving an account of the affair, characterizing the prisoner as a miscreant and murderer, and his lawyers as mercenaries, &c. Mr. Goode called for the reading also of a letter published in the Baltimore Sun. prepared by Mr. Neely, leaning towards the case of Dr. Pitts, which was done. After other remarks by Mr. Neely, charging bias, the witness was dismissed.

Mrs. Amanda Parks testified to Dr. Pitts trying to purchase a pistol.

Hon. James Dennis, of Maryland, uncle to the prisoner, testified to visiting the prisoner while in jail the Friday succeeding the homicide, and seeing a large black bruise around his left eye.

Dr. Frank West, the resident physician of the Infirmary Hospital in Baltimore, testified that the prisoner was in Baltimore in April 1884 at the Infirmary, being treated for the morphine habit. Witness had used the drug hypodermically and by the mouth. He came to the hospital a perfect wreck, and was both mentally and physically prostrated. He staid only two weeks, and when he left witness advised him to stay a month longer, that he was in no condition to resume practice. The use of morphine had destroyed to some extent his will power, and while he believed Pitts a sane man when he left, he believed his will power greatly injured. He left the hospital a short time before this tragedy occurred.

Major Mullen, of Norfolk county, testified as to Dr. Pitts visiting his house two years ago, and always carrying a pistol on his person.

The testimony here closed on both sides, and the court took recess until 4 o'clock. Exceptions, four in number, were noted by the counsel of the defense as the examination progressed.

On reassembling, Capt. George D. Parker, Commonwealth's Attorney, reviewed the case, speaking three hours, presenting the law side of the case. The jury was then placed in the hands of the sheriff for the night, and the court adjourned until 10 o'clock this morning.

Norfolk Landmark
Norfolk, Virginia
September 25, 1885