April 25, 2014

Defendant Kills Witness in Judge's Office, 1922



[February 17, 1922] -


Father of Mrs. James Server, Wife of University Kentucky Football Captain, Slain in Lawyer's Office


SOMERSET, Ky., Feb. 16.-- A. H. Wilson, a wealthy landowner, was shot and killed by John F. Todd, farmer, in the office of an attorney here today immediately after Wilson had denounced as untrue Todd's charges that he had been intimate with Mrs. Todd.

The killing occurred during the taking of depositions in the divorce proceedings in which Wilson had been named correspondent in Todd's counter claim to Mrs. Todd's suit.  Mrs. Todd was in an anteroom of Judge William Catron's office, where the shooting occurred.

"Were you ever intimate with Mrs. Todd," Judge Catron asked the witness.

"No, its a lie--as black a one as was ever told," Wilson said.  Todd then drew a pistol from his pocket and fired four shots at Wilson, who sank to the floor and died in a few minutes.  Todd turned to a lawyer and surrendered his pistol.  He was taken to jail.

The killing was the sequel of the filing of the filing of a divorce action by Mrs. Todd several months ago in which she charged her husband with cruelty.  The Todds, with their three children, live on a farm adjoining some of Wilson's property.  Mr. Wilson did not live on it, however, but made his home in Somerset.

Todd sprang a sensation when he filed the counter suit, naming Mr. Wilson, who is married and the father of Mrs. James Server, wife of the captain of the University of Kentucky football team in 1921. 

Mrs. Todd's attorneys claim the charges are without foundation.  The grand jury is investigating. [1] 


[February 17, 1922] -

Wilson's Funeral Friday

(By Associated Press)

Somerset, Feb. 17 -- The funeral of A. H. Wilson, wealthy landowner, shot to death yesterday by John F. Todd, a farmer, in the office of Judge William Cateron, attorney for Mrs. Todd in her divorce action, was held here today at the Methodist church.  Todd was arrested and the grand jury will take up the case Monday.  Todd whipped out his pistol when Wilson denied he ever was intimate with Mrs. Todd and fired.  Wilson died in a few minutes.  The shooting occurred during the taking of Wilson's deposition in the Todd divorce case.  Todd made no statement. [2]


[February 18, 1922] -


Wealthy Somerset Land Owner Is Killed by Defendant on Witness Stand When Being Questioned.

Somerset, Ky., Feb. 17. -- A. H. Wilson, 46 years old, a wealthy land owner, was shot and killed here Thursday by John F. Todd, 42 years old, a farmer, while Wilson was testifying in the divorce suit of Todd's wife.

Wilson had been named co-respondent by Todd in a cross-petition.  Todd, his wife and attorneys were in the office of Judge William Catron, attorney for Mrs. Todd, during the taking of depositions.  Wilson was being examined by Judge Catron.

"Were you ever intimate with Mrs. Todd?" the witness was asked.

"Absolutely no; it's a lie as black as ever told!"

The words hardly had been spoken when Todd rose from his seat, drew a revolver from his pocket and fired four times at Wilson, a few feet away.  Three of the shots took effect.  Wilson lived only a few minutes and died without making a statement.

Todd, showing no emotion and without a word of comment, surrendered his gun to a lawyer and was escorted to jail.  Mrs. Todd fainted.

The killing was the sequel to the filing of a divorce suit by Mrs. Todd several months ago.  The Todds, with their three ch[i]ldren, living adjoining an estate owned by Wilson.  The latter did not live on this farm, his residence being on his fine country place at the outskirts of Somerset. [3]


[February 18, 1922] -


Somerset, Ky., Feb. 18. -- The grand jury investigation of the killing Thursday of A. H. Wilson, wealthy land owner, will begin Monday, court officials said today, John F. Todd, farmer who is in jail charged with the shooting, today continued to refuse a statement.

Wilson's funeral was held today.

The shooting occurred in a lawyer's office while depositions were being taken in divorce proceedings.  Wilson had been named correspondent in Todd's counter claim to Mrs. Todd's suit charging cruelty. [4]


[February 22, 1922] -


Murder Trial on Docket of Pulaski County Circuit Court Now in Session

[Special to The Herald]

SOMERSET, Ky., Feb. 21.-- The Pulaski circuit court convened for a regular six weeks' term yesterday, with Judge H. C. Kennedy on the bench for the first time since his election last November.  His charge to the grand jury placed especial emphasis on violations of the laws against carrying deadly weapons concealed and violations of the prohibition laws.  He assured the grand jury that any man indicted for carrying deadly weapons concealed, who was subsequently convicted of the charge, would not only have to pay the fine attached to the crime, but would also have to serve the full jail sentence provided in the statutes.  He declared that whether the violators were rich or poor, white or black, he, under no circumstances, would remit the jail sentence of any convicted.

The grand jury for this term is composed of ten white men and two negroes.  

The trial of James Todd, charged with the murder of A. H. Wilson, who was shot to death while testifying in a divorce case between Todd and his wife, will be called at this term.  the contest case for sheriff of the county with Jack Edwards, who was defeated on the face of returns by C. I. Ross, Republican nominee, by slightly more than 200 majority.  Edwards contested on the grounds that many votes cast for him were not correctly counted for him through mistakes of the election officers. [5]


[1] "Farmer Kills Somerset Man." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. February 17, 1922. Page 5. Genealogybank.com.

[2] "Wilson's Funeral Friday." Richmond Daily Register, Richmond, KY. February 17, 1922. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069168/1922-02-17/ed-1/seq-1/

[3] "Witness In Divorce Killed On Stand." The Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. February 18, 1922. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038022/1922-02-18/ed-1/seq-2/

[4] "To Probe Murder." The Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. February 18, 1922. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85038022/1922-02-18/ed-1/seq-1/

[5] "'Pistol Toters' Scored in Grand Jury Charge." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. February 22, 1922. Page 8. Genealogybank.com.


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