September 25, 2014

Man on Trial for Murder Marries Victim's Daughter After Acquittal, Rockcastle, 1879


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


[December 29, 1879] -


On Friday the festivities for the week concluded with a homicide on Skagg's creek, in this [Rockcastle] county. An unmarried daughter of Alfred Smith had recently given birth to a child, the father of which was reported to be William McKinney. McKinney was at Smith's house on Friday, when Smith, who was drunk, told him to take his daughter and the baby and provide for them. McKinney agreed to do so, and, taking the child in his arms, started away, accompanied by Smith's daughter. Smith, very much enraged, followed them, and, drawing a knife, stabbed McKinney in the back. McKinney turned, drew his pistol, and shot Smith through the heart. He died without a groan. McKinney has not yet been arrested. []


[January 2, 1880] -

CRIME. -- Last Friday William McKinney, a son of Logan McKinney, of this county, shot and killed a man named Alfred Smith, who lived on Skagg's creek.  It seems that an unmarried daughter of Smith's recently gave birth to a child, the father of which she alleged to be Wm. McKinney.  Smith was naturally provoked about the matter, and on the day named while McKinney was at his (Smith's) house, a difficulty occurred between them in which McKinney received an ugly cut in his back with a knife, while a bullet from his ready pistol found its way into the heart of old man Smith and put a stop to its pulsations. McKinney claims to have acted in self-defense. He is under arrest and will have his examining trial as soon as he is able to leave home where he is at present confined by his wounds...... [2]


[January 9, 1880] -

Wm. McKinney, who shot and killed Alford Smith, on Christmas day, had his examining trial last Friday, before Esquires Wm. Shiplett and O. C. Brewer.  The testimony conduced to show that the defendant's bad conduct brought about the difficulty which resulted in his shooting Smith in defense of a deadly assault which the latter made on him with a knife.  He was held to answer, in a bond of $1,000, a charge of manslaughter at the Circuit Court. [3]


[May 7, 1880] -

W. A. Owens and W. A. McKinney, indicted for murder at the present term, were refused bail and remanded to jail. 

The case against W. A. McKinney, for murder, is set for Thursday morning and is likely to be tried. [4]


[May 14, 1880] -

Our Circuit Court did not close without a bit of a sensation.  About eighteen months ago W. A. McKinney, a young son of W. L. McKinney, began paying his addresses to Nannie Smith, a daughter of Alfred Smith.  Willie and Nannie soon became too intimate, and the intimacy resulted in Nannie's giving birth to a little stranger.  The advent of the baby made old man Smith look with disfavor on William's visits.  There grew up a bad feeling between them, and last Christmas day, while they were under the influence of liquor, McKinney shot Smith and killed him.  The killing was done at Smith's house. McKinney was arrested and held to answer by the Examining Court.  He was indicted by the grand jury at the last term and tried for murder.  His trial resulted in an acquittal.  Immediately after the verdict William and Nannie (the latter had been an important witness for her seducer) marched arm in arm into the Court House, and, standing just outside the bar, Judge McClure went through the usual legal ceremony, and pronounced them man and wife.  The marriage took place in the presence of Judge Randall, the attorneys and the jury which had tried McKinney. It was regarded as a fitting denouement to the tragic history of their love. I hope McKinney will avoid trouble in the future. [5]


[1] Excerpt from "Mt. Vernon, Ky." The Courier Journal, Louisville, KY. December 29, 1879. Page 1.

[2] Excerpt from "Crime." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 2, 1880. Page 2. LOC.

[3] Excerpt from "Rockcastle County." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. January 9, 1880. Page 2.

[4] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 7, 1880. Page 2. LOC.

[5] Excerpt from "Rockcastle." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. May 14, 1880. Page 2. LOC.


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