Massachusetts. Office of the Attorney General.

Report of the attorney general for the year ending .. (1886) online

. (page 1 of 3)
Online LibraryMassachusetts. Office of the Attorney GeneralReport of the attorney general for the year ending .. (1886) → online text (page 1 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


r^; +



h ',.



;i^i&...



PUBLIC DOCUMENT. No. 12.



ANNUAL REPORT



ATTOENET- GEJSrEE AL



YEAR 1886



BOSTON :

WEIGHT & POTTER PRINTING CO., STATE PRINTERS,
18 Post Okkice Square.

1887.



PUBLIC DOCUMENT. No. 12.



ANNUAL REPORT



'"""attoenet- general



YEAR 1886



BOSTON :

WRIGHT & POTTER PRINTING CO., STATE PRINTERS,
18 Post Office Square.

1887.



bU-3



-i^i.



\%i



CommonrDealtl) of Jtlassactjusettg.



Attoenet-General's De'partment, Commonwealth Building,

Boston, Jan. 20, 1887.

To Ihe Hono7'able Speaker of the House of Representatives :

In accordance with section 9 of chapter 17 of the Public
Statutes, I have the honor to submit to the general court the
annual report of this department.

The total number of cases that have required the attention
of the department is 388. The following table is a classifica-
tion thereof: —



Indictments for murder, ....
Exceptions and reports in criminal cases,
Infoi'mation upon relation ol' public officers,
Information upon relation of private persons

Miscellaneous,

Civil suits,

Total,



16


23


92


104


46


129


18


11


93


13


-


8



265



388



I have attended to the disposition of the following cases in
the Supreme Judicial Court, in which the prisoners were
charged with the crime of murder : —

In the County of Middlesex.

On February 1, at East Cambridge, Charles Hayes, a colored
man, for the murder of Mrs. Matilda Robinson, also colored,
by cutting her throat with a razor, on September 3, 1885.
The case was tried before elustices Devens and Holmes. E.
G. Walker and Peter Casey, esqs., were counsel for prisoner.



4 ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S REPORT. [Jan.

The trial occupied two days, and the prisoner was convicted of
murder in the second degree, and subsequently sentenced to
State prison for life.

Also at East Cambridge, on December 13, 1886, George
Francis Baker and Mary Ann Jane Baker, his wife, for the
murder at Groton of Mrs. Susannah Prescott, on November
11, 1885. Mrs. Prescott was a woman over eighty-eight years
of age, who owned a life estate in the house in which she lived.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Baker lived in the same house with Mrs.
Prescott and looked after and took care of her, besides paying
her fifty dollars per year for rent.

On the morning of November 11, Mrs. Prescott was found
in her kitchen lying in a pool of blood, partly undressed and
covered by an old mat. She was not then dead ; she subse-
quently died. Both Mr. and Mrs. Baker were indicted for
the murder and tried together, before Justices Devens and
Holmes, with F. T. Greenhalge, and W. H. Attwood, esqs.,
as counsel. Mr. Baker was acquitted. Mrs. Baker was con-
victed of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to the
house of correction at East Cambridge for life.

In the County of Plymouth.

The most important murder trial of the year was that of
Samuel F. Besse of Wareham, Plymouth County, for the mur-
der of Richard M. Lawton, — a murder of the most daring,
brutal and cold-blooded character. The evidence in this case
was mainly circumstantial, but of such a character and so well
connected that the chain of evidence became complete and left
no doubt as to the guilt of the prisoner. The trial began on
May 18, 1886, and occupied three days. Chief Justice Morton
and Associate Justice Holmes presiding.

The victim of the tragedy was but twenty-eight years of
age, a young man of excellent habits and exemplary character,
residing with his father in the town of Westport. His occu-
pation was that of buying eggs for the market, or running an
egg route, as it is termed.

On the morning of December 23, 1885, persons passing on
the Plainville road in Acushnet discovered, at a point 100 yards
east from the Plainville hotel, a horse attached to an express



1887.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 12. 5

wagon. The animal was in a jaded condition, and had every
indication of having been driven for a long distance. Upon
the wagon were numerous bloody marks, and inside, nearly
concealed from view by egg boxes, — only the feet being visible,
— was the body of him who was afterwards identified as Rich-
ard N. Lawton. The body was badly mutilated. Five large
wounds were found on the left side of the body, and over the
chin and face were scattered between thirty and forty small
wounds. Four buckshot were found in the head, two in the
throat ; the skull was fractured and a part of it driven into the
brain. From the fact that the pocketbook of Lawton, known to
have contained something over one hundred dollars, was miss-
ing, it was evident that robbery had been the motive for the
crime. Lawton was last seen alive at ten o'clock on the day of
the murder at the house of one Handy, on Fearing Hill, which
he left to go to the house of another customer about two miles
distant. To this place he never came ; and from this fact it
was supposed that the murder was committed between the two
places, and particularly so, as between them is a long strip of
woods. Near the road, about midway in these woods, was dis-
covered evidence of a team having run into the woods, of a
quantity of leaves such as Lawton used in packing of the eggs,
of a wagon cushion saturated with blood, also shavings in a sim-
ilar condition, and in a tree near by several buckshot were
found embedded. The next morning several persons said that
they saw a man driving a wagon of the same kind as Lawton's,
and that that man was Besse. Besse was also seen in the woods
by one Westgate, who heard the report of a gun, and then
some one call " whoa." Westgate spoke to Besse, who said he
had shot a rabbit, and that his dog had gone on, and would he
(Westgate) not send him back.

These, with other facts, led to the arrest of Besse, which was
accomplished with some difficulty, first, because he could not be
found, and second, when found, fought before he could be
captured. He attempted to account for his whereabouts during
the time in which the crime was committed, but unsuccessfully.
There was subsequently found a bag of shot corresponding with
those found in the tree and in the head of Lawton in the
house of Besse's father ; also a comparatively good pair of
pants stained with blood and from which a piece, near the



6 ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S REPORT. [Jan.

knee, had been recently cut. Besse was known to be poor
and rarely to have any money. The same day of and the day
after the murder it was proven that he expended over fifty dol-
lars in money of the same general kind known to have been in
the possession of Lawtou, both in Wareham and New Bedford.
These facts, together with much other testimony, which came out
at the trial, constituted an unbroken chain of evidence which the
able counsel — Hosea Kingman, esq., now District Attorney,
and John C. Sullivan, esq. — for the prisoner failed to break.
The trial lasted three days, and resulted in a verdict of murder
in the first degree. The counsel for the prisoner took excep-
tions to several rulings of the court at the trial, and these
were argued before the Supreme Judicial Court for the Com-
monwealth at the November sitting. In January the same
were overruled, and subsequently the prisoner was sentenced
to be hung in March next. District Attorney Bumpus assisted
me, and he and the oflScers who prepared the case for trial
deserve much credit.

The indictment pending at the time of my last report
against Charles Johnson, for murder, with a razor, of James
Burns of Swanzey, Bristol County, May 9, 1885, was disposed
of by defendant pleading guilty to the charge of manslaughter,
and receiving sentence of twenty years in the State prison.

The indictment pending at the time of my last report against
Timothy and John Coflfee of Boston, Sufl^blk County, for the
murder, with a knife, of John Cullen, has been disposed of.
John Coflfee died. Timothy Coflfee was tried and convicted of
manslaughter, receiving a sentence of ten years in the State
prison.

The case of Frank Mitchell, charged with the murder of
Ellen Mitchell, on July 20, 1885, by choking, which has been
pending in Suflfolk County since my last report, has been dis-
posed of by the discharge of the prisoner on his own recognizance.

The case of Charles W. Cobleigh for the murder of Etta A.
Cobleigh, at Templeton, Worcester County, on June 20, 188G,
by shooting, is still pending ; the defendant being sent to the
lunatic hospital to await the further order of the court.



1887.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 12. 7

The case of William A. Lyons of Foxborough, Norfolk
County, for the murder of Elizabeth Arrington of said Fox-
borough, was disposed of by the defendant being discharged
on his own recognizance.

The following indictments for murder are now pending : —

Herbert I. Hoxie, of New Bedford, Bristol County, for the
murder of Herbert L. Woodward, otherwise Herbert L. Hoxie,
by pushing him into the Acushnet River, on August 9, 1885,
whereby he was drowned.

Sarah J. Robinson, Charles C. Beers and Thomas R. Smith,
of Somerville, Middlesex County, for the murder of Lizzie A.
Robinson, by poison, on February 1, 1886.

Sarah J. Robinson, Charles C. Beers and Thomas R. Smith,
of Somerville, Middlesex County, for the murder of William
J. Robinson, by poison, on August 9, 1886.

Patrick McDonald of Athol, Worcester County, for the
murder of his wife, Margaret McDonald, with an axe, on Au-
gust 18, 1886.

Abram J. Lamb, alias Sarah B. Wheaton, and Mary B.
Elliot, all of Boston, Suffolk County, for the murder of Abram
J. Lamb, alias the younger of that name, by poison, on Octo-
ber 16, 1886.

Emil F. Kempf of Boston, Suffolk County, for the murder
of George F. Emmons, with a knife, November 25, 1886.

AVilliam B. O'Connor, otherwise Jockey Connor, of Law-
rence, Essex County, for the murder of Hannah Langan, with
an axe, July 25, 1886.

The case of The Attorney-General, ex rel. Civil Service
Commissioners, v. The Mayor and Aldermen of Northampton
is one of some general public interest, and of particular inter-
est to all believers in the civil service law. The case is an
information by the Attorney-General, asking that a writ of cer-
tiorari issue to compel the appointment of certain persons
certified as qualified by the Civil Service Commissioners, by
the Mayor and Aldermen aforesaid. The facts are as follows :
Upon a requisition from the authorities of the city of North-
ampton, the Civil Service Examiner held an examination to
secure a suitable person to be appointed on the police force of



8 ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S REPORT. [Jan.

the city. In accordance with the legal rules of the Civil Ser-
vice Commissioners, three persons were certified as eligible.
One of these three was designated as a veteran. It also hap-
pened that he had the highest per cent, in the competitive exami-
nation. The Mayor and Aldermen of the said city refused to
appoint this man, but did appoint another, basing the action
upon their supposed discretionary right of selection from the
three persons certified as eligible. This discretionary right, it
was claimed by the Civil Service Commissioners, did not exist.
It was contended that, by the terms of the Civil Service Act,
section 14, clause 6, chapter 320, Acts 1884, an absolute prefer-
ence was provided for the veteran whose other qualifications
were equal, — a state of fticts existing in this particular case.
The authorities of the city refused to accept this construction
of the statute, and, there being several other similar cases, the
above-mentioned proceedings were instituted. The case has
been argued but not yet decided.

The civil case of much importance known as the " bay-win-
dow case," — The Attorney General, ex. rel. Harbor and Land
Commissioners, v. Henry Bigelow Williams, — which was re-
ferred to at some length in my last report, was not, as was sup-
posed at that time, finall}^ disposed of. The case had passed
through all possible stages in the Supreme Judicial Court for
the Commonwealth, and a final decree ordering the removal of
the projections was made by the full court. The defendant then
entered into an absolute agreement with the Harbor and Land
Commissioners to remove the same on or before a certain time.
After he had begun to remove the same, Mr. W. W. Bailey, —
a citizen of New Hampshire, — to whom the defendant had
mortgaged the whole property in question, filed a petition in
the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Mas-
sachusetts, asking that the defendant might be restrained from re-
moving the bay-windows upon the ground that the value of the
property was very materially decreased thereby. After several
hearings, the United States Court refused to interfere with the
decree of the State Court, and the petition of Bailey was re-
fused. The defendant Williams removed the windows in ac-
cordance with his agreement. In accordance with the decree
of the State Court he also paid the costs in full.



1887.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 12. 9

Two cases, — Wesson v. Coramonwealth and the Town of
Milford I". Commonwealth, — both referred to in my last report,
are of considerable interest, inasmuch as in their decision an
interpretation, as to effect and limitation, of chapter 195 of the
Public Statutes will be necessary. The facts of the first case
are as follows : Martin Wesson, with whom the Board of Trus-
tees of the State Workhouse at Bridgewater made a contract
for the employment of the inmates thereof, made a claim
against the Commonwealth, by petition to the Superior Court,
as provided in said chapter 195, for, as he says, the breach of
said contract at the time of the burning of the buildings of the
institution. The case was tried before Judges Pitman, Mason
and Barker, sitting together, as provided in said chapter. The
claim of the petitioner was disallowed, and the case was taken,
on report, to the Supreme Judicial Court, where it has just
been argued.

The second case was a suit by the town of Milford to re-
cover certain sums of money paid for the support of a State
pauper. It was tried before Judges Knowlton, MaSon and
Barker, who ruled that the case was not one coming within
their jurisdiction under said chapter 195, — the claim not being
one " founded on contract for the payment of money," as pro-
vided by section 1 of said chapter. This case was also taken,
on exceptions, to the Supreme Judicial Court, where it has just
been argued.

In obedience to the resolve of the Legislature of 1884,
chapter 61, I commenced bills in equity against the Boston &
Albany Railroad, in the Supreme Judicial Court in Suffolk
County ; the same were heard before a single justice, and the
demurrers of the defendant were sustained. The cases were
then reserved at the request of the parties, and were argued
before the full bench at the last January sitting. In both cases
the bills were dismissed. Reported in 1^2 Mass. 146.

A case of considerable interest, — that of the Commonwealth
V. Frank Dextra, — involving what is generally termed the
" Sunday laws," was tried. The defendant was a barber in the
city of Worcester, and was complained of for keeping open his
shop to do his usual and ordinary business on Sunda3^ His



10 ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S REPORT. [Jan.

defence was that shaving beards and cutting hair were works of
necessity, and that hence he had a right to do them. The full
court decided, upon exceptions, that the keeping open by the
defendant of his shop to do his ordinary business with any one
who might enter was in itself in violation of the statutes ; and that
the question of whether shaving beards and cutting hair was a mat-
ter of necessity was not involved, and overruled the exceptions.

The collections of this year are much larger in amount than
for many years. This is owing to the corporation and in-
surance agents' taxes that have been received, some of which
date back to the years of 1881 and 1882. The total collections
of the year (for a more particular description of which see
pp. 27-29 of this report) amount to $22,717.19. Of this
amount, $16,653.17 was received from corporations for taxes;
$1,097.21 from insurance agents, and the balance, $4,966.81,
from various sources. See page 28.

The department has been called upon to advise with the
heads of other departments of the State government much
more than in years past. The business coming from those
sources has been very materially increased.

The usual number of papers in requisition cases have been
examined and forwarded to His Excellency the Governor with
appropriate recommendations.

In accordance with the authority given me by chapter 214 of
the Acts of 1886, for the publication of reports in capital
trials, I have had prepared the proceedings in the trial of
Thomas VV. Piper for the murder of Mabel H. Young, the
same being now in the hands of the State printers.

Harvey N. Shepard, esq., has continued in the office of
Assistant Attorney-General, and has rendered faithful service.
In accordance with the* authority given me by chapter 216 of
the Acts of 1886, I appointed Henry A. Wyman, esq., as an
assistant in the department, who, in addition to the valuable
service rendered in the preparation of briefs in criminal cases,
etc., has had charge, and is entitled to the credit of, the col-
lections which have been made by the department. I annex
details of the work of the department, with tables.

EDGAR J. SHERMAN,

Attorney- General.



1887.]



PUBLIC DOCUMENT — No. 12.



11



TABLE



Shoiving the Number of Criminal Cases pending on Questions of Laio
in the Supreme Judicial Court during the Year ending Jan. 20,
1887, and the Disposition thereof by Counties.



COUNTIES.




Decided for

the

Commonwealth.


to .C

C ^

:5 =

•§ a
■3 a

o 5


o

c

j the Attorney-General, during the Year
ending Jan. 20, 1887.



Barnstable CouNTr.

West Parish in Barnstable et al. v. The Inhabitants of the Town of
Barnstable et al. and Attorne} -General. S. J. C. Execution of
school trtisi. Pending.

Berkshire County.

Commonwealth v. Henry C. Jones. S. J. C. Liquor nuisance.
Violation of scliool-house law. Report. Judgment on the ver-
dict.

Bristol County. '

Commonwealth v. Patrick O'Leaiy. S. J. C. Illegal sale of intox-
icating liquor to a minor. Exceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Charles E. Carr. S. J. C. Obstructing a pw&Zic
highivay. Exceptions S. C. Overruled,

Commonwealth v. William Wallace. S. J. C. Liquor nuisance.
Violation of Sunday law and maintaining disorderly house.
Exceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. William N. Alden. S. .J. C. Recovery of for-
feiture under chap. 80, § 21, Public Statutes. Public nuisance.
Exceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Michael F. Kane, S. J. C. Maintaining liquor
nuisance. Violation of screen lavh Exceptions S. C. Over-
ruled.

Commonwealth v. James F. Moore. S. J. C. Maintaining liqicor
nuisance. Exceptions to members of Law and Order League
serving as jurymen, said league, through its agents, having made
the complaint. Exceptions S. C. Sustained.

Commonwealth v. Horace A. Woodward. S. J. C, Keeping and ex-
posing for sale intoxicating liquors. Exceptions S. C. Waived.



14 ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S REPORT. [Jan.

CominonwealUi v. Saiuuel P. Lee. S. J. C. Pohjijainij. Excep-
tions 8. C. Sustained.

Commonwealth v. Charles Johnson. S. J. C. Murder. Plea of
manslaughter accepted.

Commonwealth v. Herbert I. Hoxie. S. J. C. Murder. Pending.

p]ssEx County.

Commonwealth v. Moses Lufkin. S. J. C. Keephuj intoxicating
liquors. Exceptions S. C. Waived.

Commonwealth v. Laura A. Sargent. S. J. C. Nuisance. House
of ill-fame. iLeeping intoxicating liquors. Exceptions S. C.
Waived.

Commonwealth v. Albert C. Andrews. S. J. C. Illegal keeping
intoxicating liquors. Exceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Daniel Callahan, 8. J. C. Illegal transportation
of intoxicating liquors. Exceptions S. C Pending.

Commonwealth v. John H. Cille}^ and Asa M. Levering. 8. J. C.
Liquor nuisance., illegal sale of. Exceptions 8. C. Pending.

Commonwealth v. Patrick Carbin. 8. J. C. Illegal sale of intoxicat-
ing liquors. Exceptions 8. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. -John G. Cheney, Jr. S. J. C. Assault loith dan-
gerous roeapon. Exceptions 8. C. Sustained.

Commonwealth v. William Russell. 8. J. C. Murder. Defendant
committed to the Taunton Lunatic Asylum to await the further
order of the court.

Commonwealth c. William B. O'Conner. 8. J. C. Murder. Not
yet tried.

Hampden County.

Commonwealth v. Frank E. Stevens. S. J. C. Illegal sale of intox-
icating liquors. P^xceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Timothy O'Grady. 8. J. C. Illegal sale of intoxi-
cating liquors. P^xceptions S. C. Waived.

Commonwealth v. John Kemmler. 8* J. C. Murder. Defendant
in Worcester Hospital.



Hampshire County.

Commonwealth v. Patrick Hall, S, J, C. Assault. Exceptions
8, C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Clarence C. L3'nes, 8. J, C, Adultery. Excep-
tions S, C. Overruled.



1887.] PUBLIC DOCUMENT— No. 12. 15

Common wealth o. William H. Alden. S. J. C. Burning a building.
Exceptions S. C. Waived.

Commonwealth v. Benjamin Eastman. S. J. C. Murder. Defend-
ant in Worcester Hospital.

Middlesex County.

Commonwealth v. Matty Hallahan. 8. J. C, Flaying cards on the
Lord's day. Exceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Remi Gauvin. 8. J. C. Burning a building.
Exceptions S. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth vj. George E. Howe. 8. J. C. Fraudulent voting.
Exceptions S. C. Argued but not decided.

Commonwealth v. Pxlward Raftery. 8. J. C. Liquor nuisance.
Violation of screen knv. Exce[)tions S. C. Defaulted.

Commonwealth v. John McCart3\ 8. J. C. IJquor nuisance.
Illegal sale of. Exceptions 8. C. Defaulted.

Commonwealth v. William M. Devlin. 8. J. C. False pretences.
Exceptions 8. C. Overruled.

Commonwealth v. Henry W. Colson. 8. .1. C. Conspiracy. P^x-
ceptions 8. C. Waived.


1 3

Online LibraryMassachusetts. Office of the Attorney GeneralReport of the attorney general for the year ending .. (1886) → online text (page 1 of 3)