May 7, 2014

Man On Trial For Murder Points Blame at Deceased Father, Pulaski, 1895-1897



[June 18, 1895] -

A dispatch from Indianapolis says that A. J. Catron, the jailer at Somerset, Ky., created a scene on an I. & V. train, coming into this city this afternoon, by standing off the conductor with a revolver. Catron had come to Bloomfield, Green, county, with requisition papers for James Hollers, who was wanted at Somerset for murder, but his man escaped before he reached there. He claimed to have paid his fare, and that the conductor insisted on payment again. The conductor threatened to put him off if the fare was not paid, and then Catron drew his gun and invited the conducted to come, which he did not do. [1]


[November 11, 1897] -

James Hollars, on trial at Somerset for murder, makes the remarkable defense that the crime was committed by his aged father, who is now dead, and that he fled the country to shield his parent. [2]


[November 12, 1897] -

James Hollars Acquitted.

SOMERSET, Ky., Nov. 12.-- "We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty," was the verdict of the jury Thursday afternoon in the case against James Hollars, charged with the murder of Samuel Shadoan.  Hollars wept and sobbed like a child.  There were a few expressions of disapproval by those who heard the announcement of the verdict. [3] 


[November 24, 1897] -


Confessed to Murder to Save His Father -- Tried and Acquitted.

(From the Globe Democrat.)

LEXINGTON, KY, November 14 -- The most remarkable murder trial in the history of Kentucky terminated in Somerset this week when James Hollars was acquitted on the charge of murder by a jury.  In March 1895, Samuel Shadoan, a prominent young farmer, of Pulaski county, while plowing in his field near Tateville, was shot and killed by some person unknown.  The report of the gun was heard by several persons in the vicinity of the shooting, and about an hour later James Hollars, who was a neighbor of the dead man, was seen leaving the vicinity, of the field where Shadoan was killed, carrying a gun.  Just as he emerged from the field he met two young girls and a boy.  He seemed very much excited, and told them he had killed Shadoan.  The news spread rapidly, but when the officers went to Hollars' house to arrest him he was gone.  About six weeks ago he was  located in a Western state and brought back to Kentucky for trial.  His father, Levi Hollars, died last year.  When the case came up for trial the commonwealth introduced the two girls and the boy to whom James Hollars admitted the killing.  It was the general belief that a remarkable strong case had been made out against Hollars, and the commonwealth's attorneys as well as the public were taken by surprise at the remarkable line of defense offered by young Hollars' attorneys.  Hollars was put on the stand and told the following sensational story:

"My father, Levi Hollars, killed Samuel Shadoan.  The latter had accused father of stealing his timber, and father, being an old man, was afraid to cope with him in a fist fight, and he shot and killed Shadoan.  As there were no witnesses, the case looked bad for father and he asked me to assume the crime and then leave the country before the officer could arrest me.  I hesitated, but when I saw my poor old father shedding tears, and when I thought of the humiliation it would be to him to go to the penitentiary, I told him I would go as he desired, and, picking up the gun, I went through the woods to the field where the killing was done, and when I heard the children coming along I came out with the gun in my hand and told them I had killed Shadoan.  Had I not been arrested I would never have returned to Kentucky, but as father is dead an my own life is now in jeopardy I believe that it is no more than right for me to tell the whole truth about the killing."

[... line missing ...] [con]fessed to them that he was the real murderer of Shadoan, but bound them to secrecy should his son ever be arrested.  Then, he said, they could tell of his confession and save his boy from the gallows of the penitentiary.

The jurymen believed the statement of young Hollars and of his neighbors, and they were out only a short time until they returned with their verdict.  The court house was packed with people anxious to know the fate of the young man who had made such an unusual defense -- one never before made in the history of Kentucky crimes -- and when the jury filed in, stillness prevailed.  The people were divided on the question of young Hollars' guilt, and the defendant himself feared that the jurymen would believe that he was trying to exculpate himself by fastening the crime on his father.  A look of deep expectancy was on his face, and his frame shook as the judge asked the jury if they had made their verdict.  In equally solemn tone the foreman replied "Yes."  The clerk then polled the jury, and the foreman handed the clerk a narrow slip of paper,f rom which he read in a surprised sort of way:

"We, the jury, find the defendant, James Hollars, not guilty as charged in the indictment."

Hollars seemed to be the most surprised man in the courtroom, and when his friends crowded around him to congratulate him he looked at them in a dazed manner.  He finally remarked that he felt good to set foot on free ground.

Now that all the facts of this peculiar case have come to light the people of Pulaski county regard young Hollars as a hero who was willing to take upon him the odium of murder and the life of a fugitive in order to save his father from the humiliation of imprisonment and perhaps a felon's death. [4]


[November 23, 1897] -

The Pulaski jury, that lent a willing ear to the story of James Hollars, who swore his dead father did the murder he was on trial for, is responsible for another murder.  Hollars went home and killed Robert Erp, making his escape as before.  If he is ever captured, he ought to try to get the same fool jury to try his case.  It is doubtless the only one that could be found, who would have believed his gauzy story. [5]


[November 23, 1897] -



Somerset, Ky., Nov. 22 -- Jas. Hollars, who was recently tried and acquitted for the murder of Sam Shadoan, in 1895, Saturday night stabbed Mr. Erp, of Tateville, the wound proving fatal.  It will be remembered that Hollars was tried at this November term of court and acquitted of the Shadoan murder on the plea that his father did the killing and that he ran away to shield him.  Many people are indignant at Hollars, but have not as yet arrested him. [6]


[December 2, 1897] -

James Hollars, whose novel but successful plea on his trial at Somerset recently on the charge of murdering Sam Shadoan in 1895 made his trial a celebrated one, fatally stabbed a man named Erp, of Tatesville, about the latter's testimony at the trial.  Hollars had fled after Shadoan's murder.  When caught and tried he satisfied the jury that his aged father, now dead, had killed Shadoan and, being too old to flee from justice, the son assumed the responsibility and fled as the one guilty. [7]


[1] Excerpt from "Of A Local Nature." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 18, 1895. Page 1. LOC.

[2] Excerpt from "Here and There." Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. November 11, 1897. Page 1. LOC.

[3] "James Hollars Acquitted." Daily Public Ledger, Maysville, KY. November 12, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[4] "Son's Sacrifice." The Breckenridge News, Cloverport, KY. November 24, 1897. Page 4. LOC.

[5] Semi-weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 23, 1897. Page 2. LOC.

[6] "Hollars in Trouble." Morning Herald, Lexington, KY. November 23, 1897. Page 2.

[7] Excerpt from "State News." Owingsville Outlook, Owingsville, KY. December 2, 1897. Page 4. LOC.


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