June 16, 2013

Former County Attorney Kills Mistress In Botched Abortion, Laurel, 1899


Here is another lengthy yet interesting case--this one is about a former County Attorney of Laurel Co. who in 1899 forced a young woman carrying his child to have an abortion, which ultimately resulted in her death. The trials took place over 1899 to 1901, during which the defendant was also charged with tampering with the Jury Wheel.  He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.  Later, in 1913, he was convicted of bootlegging and given a one year sentence.  

Some articles contain graphic details--if you are sensitive to such things please consider yourself warned.


[January 23, 1899] - 

picture from source [9]

Ex-County Attorney Of Laurel County Arrested at Richmond.

He is Charged With the Murder of a Young Woman at London, Ky.
Local Police Were Asked to Stop Him.

Mr. E. K. Wilson, formerly County Attorney of Laurel county, was arrested at Richmond at an early hour Sunday morning, and a charge of murder was placed against him.  He was removed to London, Ky., and placed in jail, which was, according to a dispatch Sunday night, heavily guarded to prevent lynching.  Wilson is charged with the murder of Miss Mary Cloyd, a domestic employed in the Catchings Hotel at London.  It is charged that he attempted a questionable operation on the young lady, and she died from the effects of it.

The girl died last Sunday and, it is alleged that on her death bed she made a sworn statement, accusing Wilson of her ruin and death.  Wilson left London during the early part of January and as soon as Miss Cloyd died a warrant was issued for him and his description was sent to the various police departments.

At 8 o'clock Saturday night Capt. Wilkerson, of the local department, received a telegram from L. B. McHargue, Sheriff of Laurel county, indicating that Wilson was in this vicinity and urging that he be arrested. Capt. Wilkerson was in the act of detailing two men on the case when a telephone message from the police at Richmond announced that Wilson, in company with another man, had passed through that city about an hour before, driving toward Lexington.  The Richmond police did not know that he was wanted at the time, consequently he was not arrested.  Several officers were sent to the city limits on the Richmond pike and waited there for several hours, but Wilson did not put in an appearance.  Sunday morning the police received a message from Richmond that Wilson had been arrested there at an early hour Sunday morning and had been taken to London.  Wilson is said to come of an excellent family, which lives at Williamstown.  He was attorney for James Howard in the celebrated Clay county feud and was a candidate for county judge.  His trial is set for today. [1]


[January 26, 1899] -


LONDON, Ky., Jan. 25.--The trial of E. K. Wilson, on the charge of causing the death of Miss Mary Cloyd, was begun yesterday afternoon.  There was the greatest interest yesterday, as there has been today, the court room being packed with people.  The trial was reopened this morning at eight o'clock.

Mrs. C. J. McLear, wife of the landlord at the Catchings Hotel, was the first witness called yesterday evening, three witnesses being examined.

The trial was resumed this morning.  At 11:15 a.m. the testimony for the Commonwealth closed and court was adjourned till 1 p.m.

The coils tightened around Wilson.  The testimony grew stronger with each witness introduced.  A parallel of the Pearl Bryan case is developing.  When the trial opened today the court room was crowded with eager people from all parts of the county.  Wilson came in with his counsel, apparently making a supreme effort to appear calm.  He frequently consulted his leading counsel, Col. R. L. Ewell.  Wilson appeared much more collected than he did yesterday.


A special reached Lexington late last night to the effect that Judge Stousberry had refused bail to Wilson in the examining trial and sent him to the jail at Richmond, Ky., for safe keeping. [2]


[January 27, 1899] - 

A sensation that had been smoldering and brewing in London the past four weeks burst forth with all its hideousness and desolating fury upon the peaceful inhabitants of our usually quiet little mountain city last Saturday and Sunday. It was the exposure of one of the most hideous, black and damnable crimes that ever disgraced our favorite town or blacked the record of our court. It was the story of the bewitching conduct of a wiley, cultured, daring and handsome young barrister, the betrayal, seduction, ruin and agonizing death of a sweet, innocent, confiding, pretty, though unlettered young lady and servant girl at the Catching Hotel.

The young man implicated and charged with the crime is none less than Mr. E. K. Wilson, who, though he has been a citizen of our county only about nine years, has been honored more than once by the good people of this county, at one time chosen by the suffrage of the people to preside over the interests of the county as its legal adviser and representative as County Attorney, and came within a few votes of being called to preside over the county as its chief officer, County Judge.

The young lady who met with such a sad misfortune and tragic death was Miss Mary E. Cloyd, daughter of Mr. Thomas Cloyd, who resides near McWhorter, this county, twelve miles north of London, but who has been serving in the capacity of a cook at the Catching Hotel for the past two and a half years. 

According to the proof advanced at the examining trial the facts and Circumstances are about as follows:

picture from source [9]
About two years ago Mr. Wilson began paying his respects to Miss Cloyd in the capacity of a sweetheart and continued to do so regularly about once a week, some time not so often, and sometimes oftener, calling on her in the parlor of the hotel, where Mr. Wilson was a border and where the girl was a domestic, Mr. Wilson, all the while using every means known to the wiles of man to accomplish his purpose to have carnal knowledge of her and her ruin. 

Finally, yielding to his persuasive genius and under the solemn promise of marriage, she yielded to his lusty desires and her ruin and death followed. Mr. Wilson's confession, the girls dying declaration, sub-stantiated by a volume of other evidences is insurmountable proof belief the girl was a pure girl up to the time of his knowledge of her, that he had given her medicine and that with his own hands, after she had refused to use it he had used the instrument which caused her death. This interview closed, this meeting ended by Mr. Wilson saying that before he would be forced to marry the girl he would kill himself. With this Mr. Wilson left the room, the town, the county and was never again seen in our county until last Sunday morning when he was arrested by the authorities in Madison county at Richmond and brought back here under the charge of murder. The dying declaration of the girl, made in the presence of Mrs. McLear, and Drs. Ramsey and Pennington was in substance as follows: 

That she was 25 years of age, that no other man save Mr. Wilson knew her carnally, that he accomplished her ruin under the most solemn promise of marriage, that Mr. Wilson was the father of her unborn child, that he had given her twelve pills with directions how to use them, one three times a day, that she took seven of them, that two days later about Dec. 27, Mr. Wilson told her that the pills might bring her all right, but that she did not want to run any risk, that he wanted to use an instrument, that he inserted it into the uterus by the use of a wire, cut it off leaving a portion of it in the uterus, and by this produced abortion, caused her illness and destroyed her life. Dr. Pennington assisted by Dr. Ramsey, attended the girl during her entire sickness and everything known to medical science was done to save her life.


The defendant, being represented by attorneys R.L. Ewell, D.K. Rawlings and R.L. Reid, entered a motion before County Judge Stanberry Tuesday morning for bail, and at one o'clock Tuesday afternoon the examining trial began, the Commonwealth being represented by County Attorney Sparks, Senator Parker, Hon. W. H. Ramsey, H.C. Hazelwood, C.R. Brock, and J. Walker Moren. The hearing of testimony was not closed until noon Wednesday, the defense offering not one word of testimony in rebutttal to that of the Commonwealth. After argument by the counsel, Sparks, and Ramsey for the Commonwealth and Ewell and Rawlings for the defense, the motion of the defendant for bail was overruled and the prisoner was remanded to jail without bail.

The prisoner was ordered to be taken to Richmond jail for safe keeping.


The hearing throughout was a recital of one of the most sickening and shocking crimes ever committed in the county. The trial was witnessed by a large crowd with almost breathless silence, every neck being craned to its full tension that the auditor might hear and catch the full force of every word that fell from the witness lips of the prisoners guilt. Dr. A. C. Foster swears that some three or four weeks since Mr. Wilson came to him and told him that he believed that he had Miss Cloyd pregnant and wanted to know if certain drugs and certain instruments would produce an abortion; if cotton-root pills would, if ergot would, or if a catheter inserted into the uterus would. To all of which Dr. Foster answered in the affirmative. He then asked the doctor to write a prescription. The doctor refused. He then asked the doctor to go with him and use the catheter; to which request the doctor's reply was: "Do you take me to be a d-m fool? I will not do it." He then asked the doctor to loan him his catheter, which request was also refused, but was told that he could buy one at the drug store, that there was no law prohibiting the sale of them, but was told that if he used it in the way indicated, it would kill the girl. Wilson afterward met Dr. Foster and told him that he had used the instrument and that he, Wilson, believed it "had done the work."

After the condition of the girl became known, Wilson was called into the girl's sick room, and appealed to by both Mr. and Mrs. McLear, that, for the sake of his honor, the honor of the girl, and the reputation of the house he ought to marry the girl there and then. He declined, but said that he intended and would marry the girl as soon as she was able. He was then appealed to by the ruined girl, to redeem the promise by which he had ruined her, and save her further disgrace. Still he refused. Then when accosted by the girl he acknowledged that he had accomplished her ruin under promise of marriage.

Dr. J. M. Wilson, of Williamstown, father of E. K. Wilson, has been in London since last Monday evening to do what he can for his wayward son, who is charged with such a fearful crime. Dr. Wilson is a genteel old gentleman, and has the sympathy of all in his sorrow.

Mr. W.F. French, of Richmond bar has been in London during the week as an attorney for Mr. E. K. Wilson. [3]


[January 27, 1899] -


On Trial At London On Charge of Murder.

The Courthouse Crowded--Evidence for the State so far as Taken.

London, Ky., Jan. 24. -- The examining trial of E. K. Wilson, charged with the murder of Miss Mary Cloyd, began this afternoon at 1 o'clock. The courthouse was packed full of people from all parts of the county anxious to hear the trial. Wilson appeared with his counsel, apparently trying to look calm and colected, but puffing incessantly at his cigar. His counsel consists of R. L. Ewell, D. K. Rawlings and A. L. Reed. The Commonwealth is represented by Attorney James Sparks, Hon. Ed. Parker, H. C. Hazlewood, C. R. Brock, P. F. Stillings and J. Walker Moren.

After rigid restrictions in regard to order had been placed over the courtroom by Judge Stanberry, the trial was opened.

The first witness introduced was Mrs. C. J. McLear, landlady of the Catchings Hotel. In substance, her testimony was that Mary Cloyd had been employed by her for more than two years, and that she believed her to have been strictly virtuous until  Wilson's relations began with her, comiing up to the time of Miss Cloyd's illness, in the last week of December. She stated that Miss Cloyd was ill two or three days before the cause was known. Dr. Pennington was called in to see the girl and wanted to make an examination, but she refused. At last she consented, and an examination was made by Drs. Ramsey and Pennington. The girl then made a statement to the doctors and Mrs. McLear, as follows:

Over two years ago Wilson began his attentions to her. For about a year he tried to seduce her, and at last succeeded until a promise of marriage. Afterward their illicit relations were kept up, Wilson continuing to make his promises. About December 22 he induced her to allow him to perform a criminal operation. He had previously given her some medicine, which she took. She was compelled to stay in bed from that time. When the doctors wished to examine her she would not consent until she wrote to Wilson, asking him whether she should allow it. He replied in the negative. The note from Wilson was produced in court.

The next witness was Miss Sarah Wyat, another girl employed in the hotel. She testified to finding the note in Miss Cloyd's bed; also to finding the box of medicine in Miss Cloyd's trunk, which the girl said Wilson gave her.

C. J. McLear testified: "When I learned Miss Cloyd's condition and the cause I went to Wilson's office and told him about it, and he acknowledged that he had seduced her and that he would do whatever the girl said. Wilson then went to Miss Cloyd's room. He made a few commonplace remarks to the girl, and then said: 'Mary, I did not cause this; you used those instruments yourself, didn't you?' She replied: 'No, Mr. Wilson; you know that you did.' Whereupon Wilson broke down and acknowledged to all the girl had accused him of in her statement."

Mr. McLear appealed to Wilson to marry her, and he replied that he would shoot his heart out before he would marry a girl in that condition. Mr. McLear talked to him of the enormity of his crime, giving Wilson a sound rating. Wilson finally said that he would marry her as soon as she was able to stand. He then left, and was seen no more until he was arrested and brought back.

The testimony for the day was then closed. The trial will be resumed tomorrow at 8 a.m. there are six or seven witness yet for the Commonwealth.

Wilson's father, from Williamstown, and several of his friends are here making a hard fight. James C. Cloyd, a brother of the dead girl and a member of the Louisville Legion, is pushing the prosecution. [4]


[January 27, 1899] -




The examining trial of E. K. Wilson, ex-county attorney of Laurel, for the murder of Miss Mary Cloyd, was begun at London Tuesday, before County Judge Stansberry and an immense crowd. Wilson appeared with his counsel, apparently trying to look calm and collected, but puffing incessantly at his cigar. His counsel consists of R. L. Ewell, D. K. Rawlings and A. L. Reed. The Commonwealth was represented by Attorney James Sparks, Hon. Ed Parker, H. C. Hazlewood, C. R. Brock, P. F. Stillings, W. R. Ramsey and J. Walker Moren. Mrs. C. J. McLear, landlady of the Catching Hotel, testified that Miss Cloyd has been employed by her for more than two years, and that she believed her to have been strictly virtuous until Wilson's relations began with her, coming up to the time of Miss Cloyd's illness, in the last week of December. Before the doctors and Mrs. McLear the girl made this statement: Over two years ago Wilson began his attentions to her. For about a year he tried to seduce her, and at last succeeded under a promise of marriage. Afterwards their illicit relations were kept up, Wilson continuing to make his promises. About Dec. 22 he induced her to allow him to perform a criminal operation. He had previously given her some medicine, which she took. She was compelled to stay in bed from that time. When the doctors wished to examine her she would not consent until she wrote Wilson, asking him whether she should allow it. He replied in the negative. The note from Wilson was produced in court. Mr. McLear testified that he went to Wilson and told him about it, when he acknowledged that he had seduced her and said he would do whatever the girl said. He tried to make her say that she had used the instruments, but she replied: "No, Mr. Wilson, you know that you did."

When the trial was resumed Wednesday, Miss Sarah Wyatt testified that she found a tube and some medicines in Miss Cloyd's trunk. Dr. Foster swore that Wilson asked him to help him out of the case and when he declined to do so asked him for an instrument with which to perform the operation, which he also declined. Later Wilson told him that he had procured a catheter from a druggist, who recognized the instrument in court. Dr. Pennington said that when he was called he diagnosed a criminal operation had been performed, but the woman refused to permit an examination. She finally consented and he found that the operation had been performed, she told him by Wilson. 

Dr. A. C. Foster testified that Wilson asked him about the 1st of December if certain drugs would produce and an abortion. Being told that they would he asked for a prescription but was refused. Afterwards he told him he was responsible for Miss Cloyd's condition and that he wanted instruments to perform a criminal operation. The doctor replied: "Do you take me for a fool? If you attempt that you will kill the woman." Drs. Ramsey and Pennington testified that Miss Cloyd came to her death by an abortion, which the girl when dying, said was caused by Wilson.

The defense offered no testimony, but argued a motion for bail which was opposed by the Commonwealth in a strong speech by Mr. Ramsey. The judge then announced that he would now allow bail and Wilson was ordered to Stanford.

While Mr. Ramsey was speaking for the prosecution, Bill Williams, a friend of Wilson, sprang toward Ramsey with the words, "You are a G--d--- liar." He was sent to jail. The incident caused much excitement.

Wilson was brought here for safekeeping yesterday by Sheriff L. B. McHargue. He seems to bear up well under the terrible strain. He asserts confidence that he will get out of the trouble, but did not tell our reporter more than that he would not show his hand till the proper time came. But for Judge Stanberry's hostility to him he would have gotten bail, he says, and he would bring habeas corpus proceedings to compel it, but for the fact that circuit court is but 10 days off. The last time Wilson was here it was to see a nice young lady, this time he goes to jail without bail to nurse a terrible gnawing conscience if he is guilty of the horrible crime. His sad condition should be a warning to all who are disposed to give away to lust and then resort to a worse crime to hide guilt.

Sheriff McHargue, who by the way, is one of the youngest sheriffs in the State, being only 26, told us that there was no special reason for the prisoner to be brought here as the excitement had greatly subsided. he also says that Dr. Wilson, of Williamsburg, father of the accused, came to London prepared to put up a bond for his son of $50,000. [5]


[February 10, 1899] -

Three noted murder cases are on the docket of the London circuit court this term: E. K. Wilson, for the murder of Miss Cloyd; James Howard, for the murder of George Baker, in Clay county, and Milton Green, for the murder of James Mullins, in Laurel. Wilson was attorney for the defense in both of the last named cases. [6]


[June 2, 1899] -



LONDON DEPOT, Ky., June 1.-- (Special.) -- The arguments in the Wilson case were concluded tonight. A verdict of acquittal or hung jury is expected tomorrow. The speeches on both sides were very bitter. The prosecution openly accused Wilson of buying witnesses to besmirch the character of Mrs. McLear the wife of the proprietor of the hotel where the crime was committed, and with further attempting to bribe the men summoned as jurors. The defense tried to convey the impression that Mrs. McLear is responsible for the death of Mary Cloyd. [7]


[June 6, 1899] - 

The farce at London, called by courtesy a trial, ended in a hung jury which stood 9 for acquittal to three for a short penal term for E. K. Wilson, charged with the murder of Miss Mary Cloyd, by committing an abortion on her.  Wilson was granted bail in $3,000, $500 less than Judge Saufley fixed it, and Sunday he went his way rejoicing that the law seems to have been designed more to protect than to punish men who commit crimes. [8]  


[June 13, 1899] -

While waiting in the court room to see the last sad act in one of the worst farces that ever disgraced the courts of Laurel county, the reporter held his breath while the imported judge winked the jury to their room to agree to disagree. -- London Kentuckian. [9]


[June 16, 1899] - 

Judge W. L. Brown, of London, seems to be playing in bad luck.  For defending E. K. Wilson he is not only threatened with personal violence, but denied the endorsement of his county by his republican friends, who go out of their way to compliment Hon. W. R. Ramsey for attorney general, when he is not a candidate, simply because of his vigorous prosecution of Wilson.  Politics cuts curious capers in the mountains as well as elsewhere. [10]


[July 11, 1899] -

Two women who are alleged to have sworn falsely in the Wilson trial at London have been arrested and the defense believes it an attempt to intimidate and discredit its witnesses at the next trial. [11]


[February 16, 1900] -

The case of E. K. Wilson, which was changed from Laurel county to this, on a change of venue, was continued to May term. [12]


[February 23, 1900] -

In the E. K. Wilson case that was called last week an ex-county official attempted to bribe one of the standing jurors to be for an acquittal. The proposition was that the juror was to qualify, the defense to accept him and he was then to be for finding Wilson not guilty, for which the juror was to get $100 in cash and the would-be bribers influence for the office of jailer next time. [13]


[March 3, 1900] -
The Jury Wheel

Tampered With. The Lock is Picked and New Names Substituted.

The slips of paper bearing the names of jurors found on the floor of the Circuit Clerk's office last Saturday, show that the jury wheel has been tampered with.  Since last September Court the wheel has been at the Miller Hotel, being left there by oversight, but, of course, no one would charge that genial host, Hugh Miller, with any knowledge of it, although it was evidently done while at his house. Mr. Michiel, the insurance agent, part of the autumn here, occupied the room in which the wheel was left.  E. K. Wilson and several local gentleman were frequent visitors to Michiel's room.  117 new names were substituted such as Hy Cox, Rat Payne, Tom Bowles, &c.. Judge Colyer has a large number in his possession which he has used in his examination this week.  It is clear that the lock was picked by some one and more than one person was interested in putting in the wheel the names.  The old jury commissioners say they did not put any of the names found, into the wheel; and again, J. L. Joplin did all the writing in putting in the original list, while it is clear that three different persons put in the new names, as there are that many hand writings.  We hear that the authorities say they have discovered that the writing of two certain men correspond exactly with that found.  This is a penitentiary offense and the guilty parties should be apprehended, tried and convicted.  If such people should go unpunished we would need no judges or juries.  The legal profession and the welfare of society, both demand that such actions be severely rebuked.  Nothing will be left undone in trying to find out the offenders. [14]


[March 16, 1900]  -  

E. K. Wilson.  The man charged with having broken into the Jury Wheel and substituted other names for the ones put in by the regularly appointed and duly qualify Jury Commissioners.  The writing on the slips found are said to have been easily identified by a large number of London business men and Laurel county officials as the writing of E. K. Wilson and R. R. Ewell, son of Co. R. J. Ewell of that town.  Mr. Wilson was arrested last Monday at the Miller hotel by Deputy Sheriffs Tate and Wood and was taken before Judge Williams, who admitted him to bail in the sum of $1,000.  The case, agreement of attorneys, was set for to-day. Judge Williams immediately upon issuing the warrant for Ewell telegraphed to the Marshall at London to arrest Ewell.  He then forwarded the warrant on the afternoon train and Ewell was brought here Tuesday morning, when he gave bond for his appearance, and his trial was also set for to-day.  Wilson is represented by Judge G. W. McClure, J. W. Brown, C. C. Williams and S. D. Lewis; while Judge Colyer will be assisted by Mr. C. R. Brock, a bright young lawyer of London. 

Miss Mary Cloyd.  The young lady, of London, whom E. K. Wilson is charged with performing an abortion on, which resulted in her death.  He is indicted for murder in Laurel county but secured a change of venue to this county, where he will be tried at the May term of Circuit Court.  Great interest exists and the best legal talent have been employed on both sides, who will fight the case to a hot legal finish. [15]


[June 8, 1900] - 

At twelve o'clock Monday the jury in the Wilson case was secured and the commonwealth began promptly at 1 P. M. taking evidence.  ...  The case is being watched very carefully by the attorneys on both sides, and greater interest is being manifested by every one, than in any case we have ever seen tried in this court room.  There have been about forty-eight witnesses testified, including specialists from Cincinnati and [L]exington, who made an examination of the woman after her death.

The testimony was finished Wednesday, and the argument by the attorneys was begun Thursday morning.  Each side was allowed five hours for the argument.  The attorneys for the prosecution wanted four speeches, while attorneys for the defense only wanted one.  So the case for the defense was argued by W. A. Morrow, of Somerset; and Commonwealth's Attorney Sharp argued for the prosecution. [16]


[June 14, 1900] -

At Mt. Vernon the jury in the E. K. Wilson murder case returned a verdict of five years in the penitentiary.  An application will be made for a new trial and if not secured the case will be carried to the Court of Appeals.  Wilson, who is a prominent young lawyer, was accused of causing the death of a young woman through a criminal operation. [17]


[January 22, 1901] -

Court of Appeals of Kentucky.


Jan. 22, 1901.

Reported by Edward W. Hines, Esq., of the Frankfort bar, and formerly state reporter.

Appeal from circuit court, Rockcastle county.

“Not to be officially reported.”

E. K. Wilson was convicted of the offense of voluntary manslaughter, and he appeals. Affirmed.

*400 W. W. Dickerson, J. A. Craft, W. A. Morrow, and C. C. Williams, for appellant. Robt. J. Breckinridge, W. R. Ramsey, and J. N. Sharp, for the Commonwealth.


Appellant was indicted in the Laurel circuit court for murder. He was convicted of manslaughter, and his punishment fixed at five years in the penitentiary. There was no demurrer to the indictment, but after the return of the verdict appellant entered a motion in arrest of judgment. This motion is governed by section 276 of the Criminal Code: “The only ground upon *401 which a judgment shall be arrested is that the facts stated in the indictment do not constitute a public offense within the jurisdiction of the court.”

The indictment is in these words: “The grand jury of Laurel county, in the name and by the authority of the commonwealth of Kentucky, accuse E. K. Wilson of the crime of willful murder, committed in manner and form as follows, viz.: The said E. K. Wilson, on the 6th day of February, 1899, before the finding of this indictment, and in the county and state aforesaid, did unlawfully, willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought kill and murder Mary Cloyd by procuring for, furnishing, giving, and administering to her, the said Mary Cloyd, certain deleterious drugs, substances, medicines, and other mixtures, the names of which are unknown to the grand jurors, which he caused the said Cloyd then and there to take internally, and swallow in her stomach and body, and by using and inserting, and causing to be used and inserted, wire, rubber catheters, and other instruments and contrivances, to the grand jurors unknown, upon and into the womb, uterus, and body of said Mary Cloyd, at a time when she was a woman pregnant with child and in a family way, thereby inflicting upon her serious injury and danger, and causing her to abort, miscarry, and bring forth many months before her natural time; from which abortion and miscarriage so produced, and from the use of said drugs, substances, medicines, and mixtures so given and administered, and the use of the aforesaid instruments and means as aforesaid, by said Wilson, she, the said Mary Cloyd, then and there became mortally sick, languished, and from said injury thus inflicted upon her by said Wilson she soon thereafter died, against the peace and dignity of the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The question to be determined is, does this indictment state facts constituting a public offense? In Mitchell v. Com., 78 Ky. 204, it was held that it was not at common law a punishable offense to produce with the consent of the mother an abortion prior to the time when she became quick with child. There is no statute in this state changing the common–law rule. But it was held in Peoples v. Com., 87 Ky. 487, 9 S. W. 509, 810, that if the mother was thus killed, though not quick with child, the act being done without lawful purpose and dangerous to life, malice would be imputed, and the party administering the remedies would be guilty of murder; but if the acts were done with no intent to inflict serious injury upon her, and in such a way as not per se likely to so result, then the offense would be voluntary manslaughter. It is insisted for appellant that the indictment is insufficient, in that it fails to charge him with any intent or purpose to injure Mary Cloyd or to produce an abortion; that it does not charge that the means used were dangerous, or that appellant acted with guilty knowledge or recklessness; and that it does not aver that she died within a year and a day after her injury. In Jane v. Com., 3 Metc. 18, a similar objection was made. In reply to the objection to the allegation of intent, the court said: “The murder is charged to have been committed with malice aforethought. There was no necessity for repeating the charge of malice in the description given of the means by which the offense was perpetrated. If the accused maliciously killed and murdered the deceased by administering poison, it would be hard to escape the logical and necessary conclusion that the poison was maliciously administered; and so the averment that the killing was willfully and maliciously done necessarily implies a knowledge on the part of the accused that the means she resorted to would accomplish the felonious purpose she contemplated.”

It is alleged in the indictment before us, not only that appellant willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought killed Mary Cloyd by the means set out in the indictment, but that these means inflicted upon her serious injury and damage, and caused an abortion by her. To produce an abortion upon a woman is necessarily to endanger her life, and the charge that appellant willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought killed her by such means is certainly sufficient, under the rule laid down in the Peoples Case, to constitute a charge of manslaughter at least. Kaelin v. Com., 84 Ky. 354, 1 S. W. 594.

After verdict a pleading is liberally construed to sustain it, if it can be fairly done. The indictment charges that appellant did on the 6th day of February, 1899, unlawfully, willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought kill and murder Mary Cloyd by administering to her certain remedies, which he caused her then and there to take, and by using certain instruments upon her caused her to miscarry, by means of which she then and there became mortally sick, and from said injury thus inflicted upon her soon thereafter died. We construe the indictment as charging on its face that the injury was done on February 6th, and that she languished and died therefrom soon afterwards, and before the finding of the indictment, which was on February 9th.

At the conclusion of the evidence on the trial, the court instructed the jury as follows: “Gentlemen of the Jury: (1) Under the allegations and averments of the indictment, you cannot find the defendant guilty of murder; but if you should believe from the evidence in this prosecution, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant, E. K. Wilson, in Laurel county, before the 9th day of February, 1899, unlawfully and willfully, but with the consent of Mary Cloyd, for the purpose and with the intention of producing or causing the said Mary to abort or miscarry child, when she was by the said Wilson believed to be then pregnant, whether *402 she was or was not pregnant, thrust, forced, or inserted any catheter, wire, rubber, or other instrument into the womb or private parts of the person of the said Mary, and thereby, and by reason of said thrusting, forcing, or inserting of any of the instruments aforesaid, the womb or private parts of the said Mary were injured, punctured, bruised, or lacerated, and as a result of such injury, puncture, laceration, or bruise she became mortally sick, and died from such injury and sickness before the 9th day of February, 1899, you will find the defendant, E. K. Wilson, guilty of voluntary manslaughter, and fix his punishment at confinement in the penitentiary for not less than two years nor more than 21 years. (2) The law presumes the defendant to be innocent of the offense charged, and you will, if you can reasonably do so, reconcile the testimony with that presumption; and, if upon the whole case you have a reasonable doubt whether the defendant has been proven guilty in manner and form as set out in instruction No. 1, you will give him the benefit of such doubt, and find him not guilty.”

It is insisted for appellant that the court erred in submitting to the jury his intention of producing an abortion, as this was not alleged in the indictment; that it also erred in authorizing a conviction, although the woman was not pregnant, and no abortion occurred; and that the word “unlawfully” should not have been used without some definition of it. We fail to see the force of any of these objections. The court by its instructions simply stated in detail that which was expressed in the indictment by more general allegations, so as to present to the jury the material questions in the case as shown by the evidence. If appellant used the instruments upon the woman for the purpose of producing an abortion, believing her to be pregnant, and thereby killed her in this unlawful attempt, he was guilty of manslaughter. Although the indictment did not set out such unlawful purpose in terms, it did charge that he killed her willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought by these means, and that he thereby produced an abortion on her. This charge included everything set out in the instruction of the court, and more. The court simply confined the jury to a specific intent less general than that charged. It was not incumbent on the commonwealth to make out by proof all the facts charged in the indictment, but only so much as was necessary to constitute the crime of manslaughter. The court properly refused to instruct the jury as to involuntary manslaughter. This was expressly determined in the Peoples Case above referred to, and we see no reason to depart from that decision.

The commonwealth introduced a number of witnesses, after appellant had testified in his own behalf, who stated that they were acquainted in the county in which appellant lived, with his general moral character, that it was bad, and that from his general moral character he should not be given full faith and credit on oath. It is insisted for appellant that the court should have instructed the jury that this evidence was to be considered by them only to impeach his testimony as a witness. No instruction on this point was asked by appellant on the trial, and, under the evidence, we are at a loss to see how it could have helped him if given. The jurisdiction of this court in criminal cases is regulated by the statute, which provides: “A judgment of conviction shall be reversed for any error of law appearing on the record when upon consideration of the whole case the court is satisfied that the substantial rights of the defendant have been prejudiced thereby.”

The accused and Mary Cloyd both lived in London, Laurel county. She was a servant in the hotel at which he boarded. About December 1st he went to Dr. Foster, a physician in the town, and said that he had Miss Cloyd in a delicate condition, and wanted a rubber catheter to use on her, asking if it would not cause an abortion. The physician told him it was very dangerous, that he might kill the girl, and refused to furnish him a catheter. He said he knew his business, had done it before, and would do it again. In another conversation, while the girl was sick, he told the doctor that he had used the instrument on her, and she was in a dangerous condition. Shortly before the girl was taken sick Wilson went to a drug store in the town, and stated to the pharmacist that he had been having connection with her, and had gotten her in a fix. He asked if cotton–root pills would not produce an abortion, and wanted to buy some. The girl was taken sick on December 29th, and died about three weeks later. The evidence tends to show that the injury was inflicted on her on the evening of December 27th. When she was taken sick, she sent him a note to know what doctor to send for, and he wrote her not to send for the one she indicated, but for another. While she was sick he had a conversation with her, in which she said to him that he had caused her condition by using the catheter on her. The proof is conflicting as to what he said. The testimony for the commonwealth shows that he first denied, but finally admitted, what she said to be true. He says that he denied what she said to be true, and told her she used the catheter herself. He admitted having had intercourse with her, and that she did not yield to his desires the first time he approached her, and he could not say whether she was a virgin or not. He also admits that she had passed one period, and he had advised her to wait until court, so he could collect some money; that he was hard pressed, and he would send her off to Louisville or to Cincinnati to be delivered. On the evening of December 27th he said to a witness *403 that he had performed an abortion on Mary Cloyd, and be believed with good results. This statement is strongly corroborated by circumstances proved in the case. The physicians who attended her in her sickness, and who made the post mortem upon her body, testified that in their judgment an abortion had been caused upon her, producing an abscess in the ovaries, from which blood poison had resulted, producing her death. The dying declaration of the girl sustained this testimony. But there was evidence on the part of the defendant from eminent specialists, who had examined the womb and ovaries of the woman, preserved in alcohol, tending strongly to show that the ovarian abscesses were of long duration, and not produced by anything that occurred on December 27th. According to this testimony, the womb was in its normal condition, and the woman died from blood poisoning caused by the abscesses in the ovaries, which, perhaps, produced the symptoms that were mistaken by her for pregnancy. As to the condition of the womb, the physicians all agree; but as to the age of the abscesses, or the cause of them, there was a wide difference of opinion. Under the evidence, the jury would have been warranted in believing that the woman did not die from the injury done her by the appellant, but from the abscesses, then of long standing, in her ovaries. This was, in substance, the defense of appellant before the jury, and an instruction as to the effect to be given the evidence as to his character would have had no effect upon this issue; for there was no doubt at all that he had had intercourse with the woman, and, believing her pregnant by him, had undertaken to cause an abortion. The evidence introduced by himself in his own defense showed his moral character was bad, and the only thing which the commonwealth added was the attack on his credibility under oath.

The dying declaration of the girl was substantially the same as that held properly admitted in Peoples v. Com., 87 Ky. 487, 9 S. W. 509, 810;  having been made and written down the day before she died, when the girl herself had not given up all hope of living, and stated by her to be correct the next day, when she was past hope. On the whole case, we see no error to the prejudice of the substantial rights of the appellant.

There were no errors in the admission or rejection of evidence. The instructions to the jury were certainly as favorable to the appellant as the law authorized. There was a fair trial of the real issue of the case, and, under all the evidence and the circumstances shown by it, the jury were well warranted in concluding that the conditions causing the death of the unfortunate woman would not have existed but for the injuries inflicted on her by the appellant, after he had been warned by a physician of the danger. Judgment affirmed. [18]


[March 5, 1901] -

REFUSED PARDON.-- "After a careful investigation of this case, I must decline to interfere." Thus wrote Gov. Beckham on E. K. Wilson's application for pardon. Wilson was a London lawyer and was convicted of causing the death by criminal operation, of Miss Mary Cloyd, a domestic at the Catchings Hotel at London. The case was tried in Rockcastle on a change of venue from Laurel and a verdict of five years rendered. [19]


[April 18, 1913]  -

E. K. Wilson Gets Prison Sentence.

Danville, Ky., April 16th.--Deputy U.S. Marshal J. A. Coleman, of Somerset, was in Danville Tuesday en route to his home.  He has been in Williamstown, Grant county, for several days rounding up "bootleggers" and "blind tiger" keepers.  Among the number who were taken to Covington and tried before Judge A. M. J. Cochran and tried, was E. K. Wilson, of Williamstown, who is well known in Danville, where he graduated from Center College.  He was given a sentence of one year in the Atlanta prison for "bootlegging."  Wilson has had a varied career. [20]


[April 18, 1913] - 

E. K. Wilson who was known some years ago for notorious conduct while practicing law at London has just been sentenced in U. S. court at Covington by Judge ----- to one years imprisonment in Atlanta penitentiary on charge of bootlegging in his home town Williamstown, Grant county.  Wilson on account of his education and opportunities was given a heavier sentence than is given to the uneducated handler of booze. [21]


[1] "Ex-County Attorney of Laurel County Arrested at Richmond." Morning Herald, Lexington, KY. January 23, 1899. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[2]  "A Pearl Bryan Case." Morning Herald, Lexington, KY. January 26, 1899. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[3] Mountain Echo, London, KY. January 27, 1899. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/KYLAUREL/1997-07/0868849360

[4] "Wilson." The Hartford Republican, Hartford, KY. January 27, 1899. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069313/1899-01-27/ed-1/seq-2/

[5] "Held Without Bail." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 27, 1899. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-01-27/ed-1/seq-3/

[6] Excerpt from "News of the Vicinage." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. February 10, 1899. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-02-10/ed-1/seq-3/

[7] "Ready for Verdict." Morning Herald, Lexington, KY. June 2, 1899. Page 1. Genealogybank.com.

[8] Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 6, 1899. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-06-06/ed-1/seq-3/

[9] Excerpt from "News of the Vicinage." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 13, 1899. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-06-13/ed-1/seq-1/

[10] Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 16, 1899. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-06-16/ed-1/seq-2/

[11] Excerpt from "News of the Vicinage." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 11, 1899. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1899-07-11/ed-1/seq-1/

[12] Excerpt from "Local and Otherwise." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. February 16, 1900. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1900-02-16/ed-1/seq-3/

[13] Excerpt from "Local and Otherwise." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. February 23, 1900. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1900-02-23/ed-1/seq-2/

[14] "The Jury Wheel." Mount Vernon Signal, Mount Vernon, KY. March 2, 1900. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1900-03-02/ed-1/seq-2/

[15] Mount Vernon Signal, Mount Vernon, KY. March 16, 1900. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1900-03-16/ed-1/seq-1/

[16] Excerpts from untitled front page article on Wilson trial. Mount Vernon Signal, Mount Vernon, KY. June 8, 1900. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1900-06-08/ed-1/seq-1/

[17] The Central Record, Lancaster, KY. June 14, 1900. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069201/1900-06-14/ed-1/seq-2/

[18] Wilson v. Commonwealth, 22 Ky.L.Rptr. 1251, 60 S.W. 400 (1901).

[19] "Refused Pardon." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. March 5, 1901. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1901-03-05/ed-1/seq-3/

[20] "E. K. Wilson Gets Prison Sentence." Mountain Advocate, Barbourville, KY. April 18, 1913. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn87060032/1913-04-18/ed-1/seq-1/

[21] Mount Vernon Signal, Mount Vernon, KY. April 18, 1913. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1913-04-18/ed-1/seq-2/


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...