June 14, 2014

Man Killed Resisting Arrest At Sunday School Picnic, Pulaski, 1889


Click here for a list of my other Pulaski/Rockcastle/Laurel County KY articles


[May 28, 1889] -

The Reporter says Constable Doolin and the man Cope, who told him to shoot Wm. Watson at a recent Sunday school convention in Pulaski, were held in $1,500 and $600 respectively to answer. [1]


[December 10, 1889] -

The Somerset Reporter says that Wm. Watson, the man who was shot near Woodstock last May for alleged disturbance of a Sunday School Convention, died last week after seven months' intense suffering. W. R. Doolin, who fired the shot, and the man Cope, who was accessory to the crime, were both placed in jail without bail Saturday morning and will await trial at Circuit Court. [2]


[December 17, 1889] -

The men, Doolin and Cope, charged with the killing of William Watson, who was misbehaving at a Sunday school convention in Pulaski, were granted bail, says the Reporter, in $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. [3]


[October 17, 1890] -

The trial of Will Doolin and George Cope, for killing Will Watson, who misbehaved at a Pulaski church, is in progress at Somerset. [4]


[October 21, 1890] -

The Somerset court closed at midnight Saturday, after a busy session of 12 days, during which court was held till after 10 o'clock nine of the nights.  Six men were sent to the penitentiary, including A. M. Price, for the murder of Shiplett, seven years, and Thomas and Charles Jones, father and son, three years each for killing Bud Ping. There was a hung jury in the cases of Doolin and Cope for killing young Watson, who disturbed a church gathering. [5]


[October 9, 1891] -

The grand jury at Somerset is the first that Judge Morrow has had empanelled since the new constitution reduced the number to 12.  In his charge the judge impressed upon the jury the importance of investigating fully the sheriff's assassination and the mob that hanged the alleged assassins, saying that in the eyes of the law they are murderers.  The second trial of young Doolin and Cope, for killing Will Watson at a S. S. picnic was in progress at last accounts. [6]


[October 15, 1891] -

The Cope-Doolin Murder Case.

SOMERSET, Ky., Oct. 10.--The Cope-Doolin murder case is now before the circuit court, Judge Morrow presiding, with forty witnesses to be examined.  The case was tried a year ago, but the jury disagreed.  Doolin and Cope shot William Watson while trying to quell a disturbance at a picnic a year ago.  There is much interest in the trial. [7]


[October 16, 1891] -

The Cope-Doolin trial at Somerset resulted in a hung jury, after lasting a week and the jury being out 24 hours. [8]


[July 11, 1893] -

Four years ago Cope and Doolin killed young Watson, son of the sheriff, at a religious gathering in Pulaski, near the Lincoln county line.  Since then there have been three mistrials, but a jury was at last found that was willing to give them at least partial justice. They were tried again last week at Somerset and given 2 and 3 1/2 years respectively. [9]


[October 14, 1893] -

Court of Appeals of Kentucky.

DOOLIN et al.

Oct. 14, 1893, Decided.


DISPOSITION: Reversed and remanded for a new trial.


1. The alleged dying declaration was incompetent as evidence because it did not appear that it was made under a sense of impending death (Vaughn v. Commonwealth, 86 Ky., 434; Bales v. Commonwealth, 14 Ky. Law Rep., 178.)

2. That portion of the declaration reciting matters not connected with the immediate circumstances attending the killing was clearly incompetent, even if the circumstances under which the declaration was made were such as to render the other parts of it competent. (Terrell v. Commonwealth, 13 Bush, 259.)

3. The court erred in giving and refusing instructions. (Criminal Code, sec. 394; Dilger v. Commonwealth, 88 Ky., 555.)






As the case must go back for another trial, no facts will be noticed in the opinion further than is necessary to make it intelligible. There was a Sunday-school meeting held at Oak Grove meeting-house, and during the meeting [**2]  Watson and Gastineau fired their pistols within a short distance of the meeting-house, which created a disturbance. The minister requested the appellant Doolin, who was a constable in good standing, to arrest the persons creating the disturbance; and in obedience to the request he, together with Cope, who was summoned to assist, started out to make the arrest. Apprehending some trouble, they procured a rifle gun, and finally they overtook Watson and Gastineau, and ordered them under arrest. Gastineau obeyed, but Watson moved on, not obeying, and he finally began to run, and the appellants pursuing, Doolin being armed with the rifle gun and Cope with a stick. The witnesses for the Commonwealth say that Cope said to Doolin, "Shoot him, shoot him, I say, and don't let him get away," and immediately Doolin fired the gun, and Watson fell wounded, from which he died.

The evidence for the appellants is, that Cope did not say "shoot him," etc., but that while they were pursuing Watson in order to arrest him, and telling him that they did not wish to hurt him, but only to arrest him, he said that if they followed him any further he would shoot them, and threw his pistol over his shoulder in [**3]  the direction of them and snapped it at them; and that believing the pistol was loaded, and that Watson intended to kill them, Doolin fired in their necessary self-defense. The court instructed the jury that the appellants had the right to  [*31]  pursue and arrest Watson without a warrant, the offense having been committed in the hearing of Doolin; but the offense being only a breach of the peace, Doolin had no right to shoot Watson in order to compel him to stop his flight, and that if he, Doolin, did so shoot, they must find him guilty; but if Watson snapped his pistol at Doolin as if to shoot him in order to prevent the arrest, and that Doolin believed that his life was in immediate danger at the hands of Watson, then he had the right to shoot Watson in his own defense. But the court gave this other instruction: "If Doolin in pursuit of Watson gave him reasonable ground to believe, and he did believe, that it was the purpose of Doolin to take his, Watson's, life, or do him great bodily harm, then he had a right to protect himself from such danger, and take the life of Doolin; and in an attempt to protect himself from such danger he did endanger the life of Doolin, and Doolin [**4] shot to protect himself from danger brought on by his own conduct in endangering the life of Watson, he can not be excused on the grounds of self-defense."

It seems to us that this instruction is erroneous, for its meaning is that if Doolin in the pursuit of Watson gave him reasonable ground to believe that he, Doolin, intended to take his life or to do him great bodily harm, and he tried to shoot Doolin in order to prevent the apprehended danger to himself, which might not have existed in fact, then Doolin could not avail himself of Watson's threatening conduct toward him as a ground of self-defense. If Watson had shot Doolin, and was on trial for the shooting, the circumstances indicated in the instruction would avail him as self-defense. Under the plea of self-defense it is not necessary that the apprehended danger should exist  [*32]  in fact; but if the facts and circumstances are such as to give the party a reasonable ground to believe, and he does believe, in the existence of such danger, then he may act in his own defense, although the danger does not exist in fact. Hence it may sometimes occur that each party may be mistaken as to the existence of danger, and both be entitled [**5]  to the law of self-defense, as this case illustrates; for Watson might have been induced to believe from the fact that Doolin was armed and pursuing him, and the shouts, "shoot him," that Doolin's purpose was to shoot him, and therefore he would have acted in self-defense, and Doolin not intending to shoot Watson, but to pursue and arrest him, as he had the right to do, might have believed that Watson intended to shoot him to prevent being arrested, and shot to protect himself. So in such case each would be mistaken as to the purpose of the other, and each might be excusable on the ground of self-defense. No instruction should have been given on that subject.

For the error indicated the judgment is reversed and the case is remanded for a new trial. [10]


[October 17, 1893] -

The Court of Appeals has reversed the cases of W. R. Doolin and G. W. Cope, sent to the penitentiary from Pulaski for two and three years respectively for killing William Watson.  It will be remembered that the killing occurred near the Lincoln county line at a Sunday school convention.  Watson had fired his pistol into the crow and Doolin who was constable, and Cope, a member of the posse, shot him in the attempt to arrest him. [11]


[April 10, 1894] -

Col. W. O. Bradley telegraphed Hon. W. H. Miller Sunday to come to Somerset and help him select a jury from the Lincoln county men summoned for examination in the Cope and Doolin murder case, and he left on the noon train. [12]


[April 10, 1894] -

Fifty citizens of the West End were summoned to go to Somerset yesterday to serve as jurors in the case of Doolin and Cope for killing Deputy Sheriff Watson, a couple years ago. [13]


[April 13, 1894] -

The following are the names of the Lincoln county jurors, who got caught on the Cope and Doolin jury at Somerset: J. W. Givens, C. W. Wyatt, J. S. Mobley, Walter Huston, J. W. Bailey, J. B. Rout, J. S. Lee, G. A. Hughes, Cam Duncan, D. L. Trimble, J. B. Riffe and J. S. Murphy, Jr. Under date of the 11th Mr. Murphy writes that the Commonwealth has closed, but the case would take all the week. [14]


[April 17, 1894] -

The Lincoln county jury which heard the case of Cope and Doolin at Somerset gave the former two and the latter three years in the pen. They killed an officer at a religious gathering a few years ago, who was attempting to arrest them for disorderly conduct. [15]


[June 16, 1894] -

Court of Appeals of Kentucky.

DOOLIN et al.

June 16, 1894.

Appeal from circuit court, Pulaski county.

“Not to be officially reported.”

W. R. Doolin and George Cope were convicted of manslaughter, and appeal. Affirmed.

*1 W. O. Bradley, for appellants.

W. J. Hendrick, for the Commonwealth.


The appellants were convicted of the crime of manslaughter, for killing W. S. Watson. It seems that Doolin was a constable, and tried to arrest Watson for a misdemeanor, and summoned Cope to help him; that Watson ran, and, in the pursuit, Doolin shot him, from the effect of which the jury found that Watson died. The jury also found Cope guilty, as aider and abettor. The material facts of this case will be found in 23 S. W. 663, the case having been tried once before. Doolin claims that he shot Watson, in self-defense. He does not claim that he had the right to shoot him to prevent his escape. Upon the trial of the case the court permitted the dying declaration of Watson to go to the jury. The declaration, as written, reads, “Believing myself to be now on my deathbed,” etc. It is contended that this is but the expression of an opinion, etc., and is not certain enough to make it a dying declaration. But it seems to us that it does express the belief of “impending dissolution,” for it means that the deceased was then in bed, wounded, and that he believed he would die upon that bed, of that wound. Besides, he had, not long before, been told by his doctors that there was no hope for him. The declaration was properly allowed to go to the jury. The court gave the jury eight instructions, which covered the whole law of the case. The appellants objected to the fourth instruction only. We think that instruction is correct. The refused instructions were properly refused. The evidence authorized the verdict. We see no error in the record. The judgment is affirmed. [16]


[June 19, 1894] -

One of the last and best acts of the court of appeals before adjourning was to affirm the sentences of Cope and Doolan, convicted after many efforts in Pulaski for killing an officer, who went to arrest them for disturbing a religious assembly, and they will have to serve the too short sentences given them. [17]


[1] Excerpt from "News Condensed." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 28, 1889. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1889-05-28/ed-1/seq-2/

[2] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 10, 1889. Page 3. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1889-12-10/ed-1/seq-3/

[3] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. December 17, 1889. Page 5. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1889-12-17/ed-1/seq-5/

[4] Excerpt from "News Condensed." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 17, 1890. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1890-10-17/ed-1/seq-2/

[5] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 21, 1890. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1890-10-21/ed-1/seq-3/

[6] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 9, 1891. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1891-10-09/ed-1/seq-3/

[7] "The Cope-Doolin Murder Case." Crittenden Press, Marion, KY. October 15, 1891. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069457/1891-10-15/ed-1/seq-4/

[8] Excerpt from "Newsy Notes." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 16, 1891. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1891-10-16/ed-1/seq-2/

[9] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. July 11, 1893. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-07-11/ed-1/seq-3/

[10] Doolin v. Commonwealth, 23 S. W. 663 (1893). Retrieved from Google Books.

[11] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. October 17, 1893. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1893-10-17/ed-1/seq-3/

[12] Excerpt from "Personal Points." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 10, 1894. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1894-04-10/ed-1/seq-3/

[13] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 10, 1894. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1894-04-10/ed-1/seq-3/

[14] Excerpt from "Newsy Notes." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY.  April 13, 1894. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1894-04-13/ed-1/seq-2/

[15] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. April 17, 1894. Page 4. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1894-04-17/ed-1/seq-4/

[16] Doolin v. Commonwealth, 16 Ky.L.Rptr. 189, 27 S.W. 1 (1894).

[17] Excerpt from "City and Vicinity." Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. June 19, 1894. Page 3. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052020/1894-06-19/ed-1/seq-3/


No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...