August 23, 2015

Harry Griffin Kills Oscar Bowen, Pulaski, 1907

Previously:


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[November 12, 1907] -

Harry Griffin, son of the Mayor of Somerset, shot and instantly killed Oscar Bowen, a young fireman on the Queen and Crescent railroad. Bowen was a son-in-law of Policeman John Camden. He leaves a young wife. The quarrel arose in the reel house. [1]






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[June 25, 1915] -


Paid Advertisement.



THE GRIFFIN CASE


(From Somerset Herald)

Kennedy and his friends for the past 18 months have been slipping around and trying to poison the minds of good people against Judge Bethurum on account of the filing of the Griffin case about six years ago. Judge Bethurum in his speeches took up the matter and explained to the people why this case was filed. It was generally known in Somerset at the time, and no man ever complained to Judge Bethurum regarding the matter. The reasons are set forth in the order filing the case. It satisfies fair mind, but Kennedy is complaining because he wants to be Judge, and he thinks that he can fool a few people into voting for him, a man unsuited from the standpoint of either ability or temperament, for the high office of Judge. It is useless for the Herald to extend this comment, as the record is the best evidence and the record shows that the Griffin case was filed with leave for good reasons which are set forth in the following statements and affidavits:

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Oct. 25th, 1909.

Hon. B. J. Bethurum,
Attorney for the Commonwealth, 28th Judicial District.

Sir:

In the matter of Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. H. L. Griffin, charged with manslaughter, I desire to say that I am the widow of Oscar Bowen, deceased. From my investigation and from what I am told and what the witnesses say it is my opinion that the killing of my husband was accidental and that Griffin had no intention of doing him any injury, and I have no desire to have him prosecuted, and ask you as attorney for the Commonwealth to dismiss the case against him.

Respectfully, 
Mrs. Oscar Bowen.

Signed in the presence of Chas. Jacobs, S. S. Morrow and W. B. Morrow.
Subscribed and sworn to before me by Mrs. Oscar Bowen, November 27th, 1909.

W. Boyd Morrow, N. P. P. C.

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Oct. 25th, 1909.

Hon. B. J. Bethurum,
Commonwealth's Attorney, 28th Judicial District of Ky.

Sir:

In the matter of the Commonwealth of Kentucky against H. L. Griffin I desire to state that I am the father-in-law of Oscar Bowen whom the defendant is charged with killing. I have fully investigated this case and the facts in relation thereto and am convinced that the shot which killed Bowen was not fired for the purpose of killing him but was accidentally done. Under these circumstances I do not think he should be prosecuted and asked that the case be dismissed.

Respectfully,
J. C. Camden.

Signed in the presence of Chas. Jacob, W. B. Morrow and S. S. Morrow,
Subscribed and sworn to before me by J. C. Camden, Nov. 26th, 1909.

W. Boyd Morrow, N. P.

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Chicago, Ill. Oct. 27, 1909.

Mr. B. J. Bethurum,
Commonwealth's Attorney, Somerset, Ky.

Dear Sir:

In reclaim filed against the Company under policy issued to Oscar Bowen, deceased, I beg to state the same as an accident policy, providing indemnity for the result of purely accidental injuries. It was my duty to investigate the claim, which I did, and as there appeared to be a liability under the contract and the facts in the case, the claim was approved and paid.

Yours truly,

Continental Casualy Co.
L. E. Brown, Supt.

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Somerset, Ky., Nov. 3rd, 1909.

Hon. B. J. Bethurum,
Commonwealth's Attorney,

Dear Sir:

In the matter of the Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. H. L. Griffin, charged with manslaughter, I desire to make the following statement:

I was the attorney of Mrs. Lis Bowen, the administer of Oscar Bowen, deceased, who was killed by H. L. Griffin, and Mrs. Bowen was also the beneficiary of an accident policy made in her favor by her husband in the Continental Casualty Co. After the death of Bowen, as the attorney of Mrs. Bowen, I handled the settlement of the claim was refused on the grounds that the death of Bowen was not the result of an accident but that he was purposely killed by Griffin, and therefore an accident policy would not permit a recovery. At the instance of Mrs. Bowen and her father, John Camden, I investigated the matter: took the statement of various eye witnesses and presented such proof to the said company as to convince the that Bowen's death was the result of an accident instead of being the result of crime. For this reason they adjusted the claim upon the basis of an accidental killing.

Very Respt,
Edwin P. Morrow, Atty. At Law.

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The affiant, Lewis Camden, states that he was an eye witness to the shooting and killing of his brother-in-law Oscar Bowen, by H. L. Griffin, and he says he was of the opinion at the time that said shooting and killing was the result of an accident and he is still of that opinion. He says Griffin and Bowen were the best of friends, and had never had any trouble before, and it was largely what he said to his sister, Mrs. Bowen, and his father John Camden, that caused them to put on foot the investigation that convinced them that said killing was due to an accident,


Lewis Camden.

Subscribed and sworn to before me by Lewis Camden, this the 16th day of November 1914.
Julius Samuels, Notary Public Hamilton Co.

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During the time that I was serving as County Attorney, H. L. Griffin shot and killed a man by the name of Oscar Bowen here in Somerset. The Grand Jury following the killing indicted Griffin for voluntary manslaughter. Judge Bethurum was Commonwealth's Attorney at the time. After the indictment was returned, Judge Bethurum and I were both anxious to try the case. The case continued several times on account of the absence of material witnesses for the Commonwealth, two of whom had left the State. Finally the wife and father-in-law of the deceased came to Judge Bethurum and myself and asked that the case be dismissed and stated that they had made a thorough investigation of the case and found that the killing was the result of an accident and that the wife of the deceased had taken the statements of the eye witnesses to the killing and had convinced an accident insurance company that the killing was accidental and the company had paid the accident policy which the deceased had taken in said company. I personally know that Judge Bethurum as Commonwealth's Attorney used every effort at his command to have his case tried and that he refused to dismiss the case under any circumstances, but after consulting with me both agreed that under the circumstances the best thing that could be done was to file the case with leave to reinstate, which was done. I most heartily endorse the action of Judge Bethurum in this because, in my judgement, it would have been impossible to secure a conviction under all the circumstances surrounding the case.

Somerset, Ky., May 13, 1915.
J. W. Colyar.

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The Herald has in its possession more affidavits of eye witnesses and statements of other parties, but lack of space forbids their publication at this time. The above should satisfy any unbiased mind that the case was filed for good and sufficient reasons and that the Attorney for the Commonwealth could do nothing else. Griffin was indicted for manslaughter only, and the Grand Jury refused to indict him for wilful murder, when showed that the Grand Jury had some doubts of his guilt, when they only heard one side of the case. The widow and her father asked that hte case be dismissed, but the attorney filed it with leave, and refused to dismiss it. What more could he have done? Any one with a particle of brains knows that after the widow collected the accident policy there was no chance to convict the accused.

This is the only case of the sort that has been disposed of without a trial since Judge Bethurum has had anything to do with the courts of this district. Hundreds of felony cases from murder down have been returned by the Grand Juries, and yet Kennedy is unable to find where there has been a single one filed or dismissed except the Griffin case. He gives Judge Bethurum no credit for the good work that he has done along the lines of law enforcement but undertakes to discredit him for what he did in the Griffin case while he was Commonwealth's Attorney, and the above record how little there is in this charge. Come along with something else, Kennedy, and then watch Judge Bethurum smash you. He has met you upon every thing you have yet started, an shown the people that you are a base deceiver. [2]



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[July 30, 1915] -

CANNOT ANSWER

On July 8th the Herald republished the letter of Hon. E. P. Morrow about the Griffin case, so called, in which letter Mr. Morrow completely vindicates Judge Bethurum from all these untrue and unmanly attacks appearing in the Somerset Leader. The Herald asked Kennedy if he means to charge Mr. Morrow with "defrauding and buncoeing the Insurance company" in effect, and Kennedy has been silent on this question.

The Herald still asserts that the people and voters of this district will believe our next Governor about this Griffin case and will take Mr. Morrow's word before they will believe Kennedy. In fact Kennedy and his leaders have been silent on this matter of late and we wonder if they are not finally made aware of the eternal fact that "truth is mighty and will prevail."

Again the Herald asks, does Kennedy propose to call our Republican candidate for Governor as falsifier end buncoer? Kennedy, will you imply these untrue charges about Mr. Morrow in your misrepresentations about the Griffin case? The Herald asks the voters to read Mr. Morrow's letter as follows:

Hon. B. J. Bethurum,
Commonwealth Attorney.

Dear Sir:
In the matter of the Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. H. L. Griffin, charged with manslaughter, I desire to make the following statement:

I was the attorney of Mrs. Lis Bowen, the administrator of Oscar Bowen, deceased, who was killed by H. L. Griffin, and Mrs. Bowen was also the beneficiary of an accident policy made in her favor by her husband in the Continental Casualty Co. After the death of Bowen, as the attorney of Mrs. Bowen, I handled the settlement of her claim against this insurance company. The payment of the claim was refused by the company upon the grounds that the death of Bowen was not the result of an accident but that he was purposely killed by Griffin and therefore an accident policy would not permit a recovery. At the instance of Mrs. Bowen and her father, John Camden, I investigated the matter; took the statement of various eye witnesses and presented such proof to the said company as to convince them that Bowen's death was the result of an accident instead of being the result of crime. For this reason they adjusted the claim upon the basis of an accidental killing.

Very Respt.,
Edwin P. Morrow, Atty. at Law.

During the time that I was serving as County Attorney, H. L. Griffin shot and killed a man by the name of Oscar Bowen here in Somerset. The Grand Jury following the killing indicted Griffin for voluntary manslaughter. Judge Bethurum was Commonwealth's Attorney at the time. After the indictment was returned, Judge Bethurum and I were both anxious to try the case. The case was continued several times on account of the absence of material witnesses for the Commonwealth, two of whom had left the State. Finally the wife and father-in-law of the deceased came to Judge Bethurum and myself and asked that the case be dismissed and stated that they had made a thorough investigation of the case and found that the killing was the result of an accident and that the wife of the deceased had taken the statements of the eye witnesses to the killing and had convinced an accident insurance company that the killing was accidental and that the company had paid the accident policy which the deceased had taken in said company. I personally know that Judge Bethurum as Commonwealth's Attorney used every effort at his command to have this case tried and that he refused to dismiss this case under any circumstances, but after consulting with me we both agreed that under the circumstances the best thing that could be done was to file the case with leave to reinstate, which was done. I most heartily endorse the action of Judge Bethurum in this case, because, in my judgement, it would have been inpossible to have secured a conviction under all the circumstances surrounding the case.

J. W. Colyar.
Somerset, Ky., May 13, 1915.

No more can be needed. Judge Bethurum did his duty in filing this case and it is not now an issue in this campaign to reasonable and fair minded men. The Herald also calls your attention again to the letter of honorable J.W. Colyar. We ask, Kennedy what charges do you prefer against Mr. Colyar? The people of this county place confidence in John Will Colyar and resent these charges against his honest and integrity.


Citizens and voter read these letters and you cannot vote for a man who would thus misrepresent not only Judge Bethurum but Hon. E. P. Morrow and Hon. J. W. Colyar as well. [3]


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[August 20, 1915] -


HUGH WOOLFOLK IS PARDONED.


FRANKFORT, Ky., Aug. 19. -- Acting Governor McDermott today pardoned Hugh Woolfolk, of this city, sent to the penitentiary for a term of one to five years on the charge of housebreaking. He pardoned Harry L. Griffin, of Somerset, charged with killing Oscar Bowen. This indictment has been pending for eight years. The wife of Bowen and many others made affidavit that the shooting was accidental. For that reason Governor McDermott granted the pardon. [4]




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[1] Excerpt from "In Neighboring Counties." The Interior Journal, Stanford, KY. November 12, 1907. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85052021/1907-11-12/ed-1/seq-2/

[2] Excerpts from "The Griffin Case." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. June 25, 1915. Page 2. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1915-06-25/ed-1/seq-2/

[3] "Cannot Answer." Mount Vernon Signal, Mt. Vernon, KY. July 30, 1915. Page 1. LOC. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86069561/1915-07-30/ed-1/seq-1/

[4] "Hugh Woolfolk is Pardoned." Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY. August 20, 1915. Page 11. Genealogybank.com.

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