Return to Murder Trial

June 24, 1926


Second Trial of Case on Charge of Killing Joe W.
Arnold Brings Verdict of
Not Guilty.

            After about an hour’s deliberation Tuesday afternoon the jury in the case of the Commonwealth against Robert O. Haviland, indicted on a charge of murder in the death of Joe W. Arnold, brought in a verdict of acquittal.


            The second trial of the Commonwealth against Robert O. Haviland, charged with killing Joe W. Arnold at the LeBus tobacco warehouse on the morning of February 3, 1926, was called at a special term of the Harrison Circuit Court Monday, Judge J.C. Dedman presiding.  The first trial of the case in March resulted in jury disagreement.

            Thirty men were examined before a jury was secured last Monday afternoon.  The jury accepted was:  Lovell Jett, Ira Gray, Frazer Phillips, Wilder McNees, Sam McClintock, Tom Batson, C.R. Renaker, Joe K. Marsh, R.M. Williams, P.A. Toadvine, F.M. Turner[,] and Walter McCauley.

            The Commonwealth was represented by Commonwealth’s Attorney T.E. King, County Attorney M.G. Land and Judge Wade H. Lail; the defendant by Peterson & Peterson, Daniel Durbin[,] and Stephen Blakely, of Covington.

Witnesses Heard

            The defendant waived formal arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty.  Late Monday afternoon witnesses for the Commonwealth were heard, including J.S. Jones, Whitaker Downing, R.H. Brunker, Larkin Riddle, A.L. Jennings, U.F. Price, Walter Price, R.H. Jones[,] and L.R. Kearns.  Their testimony was along the lines of the first trial, to the effect that Arnold, who was an independent tobacco buyer, was seated on a basket of tobacco talking with friends, when Haviland came up.  There was some badinage about the amount of pooled tobacco that was being sold over loose leaf floors, and one of the witnesses testified Haviland, who was field man for the Burley Tobacco Growers Association, accused Arnold of inducing growers to dump their crops.  Arnold called him a “damned liar” and the shooting followed.  Some of the witnesses said Arnold was leaning against the basket, others that he was standing, and others that he was advancing.  There was a difference of opinion about the position of his hands.

Night Session

            A night session of court was held Monday and the defendant was on the stand.  His testimony also was substantially as given in the former trial in March.  He said he had been warned by a party a year ago that Arnold had said if he did not desist from meddling he would kill him and on a later occasion he had seen a pistol in Arnold’s pocket.  He told of his business as inspector for the Association on the floor that morning, his joining the group of which Arnold was one, the talk about dumping and his charge that Arnold had induced some to dump; that Arnold called him a G—d—liar, jumped up and advanced on him with hands extended; he backed away, Arnold followed, and the shot was fired.

            At the night session, some of the witnesses[,] not knowing it would be held, were absent and by agreement their testimony as given at the former trial was read.

New Witnesses Introduced

            The defense completed its case Tuesday morning, introducing one new witness, Arthur Shy, of Springfield, Ohio, formerly of Cynthiana, who was driving a truck here at the time in February when Robert Haviland shot Joe Arnold, who afterwards died.  Shy’s testimony was to the effect that a few weeks before the accident occurred, Shy heard Arnold making threatening remarks about Haviland.  On an occasion when Arnold had employed Shy to take to Lexington a truck load of tobacco that Arnold and Hez Harris had bought Harris armed with a pistol was sent along with Shy, Arnold saying that he suspected Haviland had already gotten out an injunction against the owner and gave instructions that in case anybody sought to stop them, to stop him first, Shy testified.  Arnold at the time added threats against Haviland, Shy said.

            The testimony in the case was completed at about 11 o’clock Tuesday morning.  Arguments were made by Judge Wade H. Lail and Commonwealth’s Attorney T.E. King for the State and by Hanson Peterson and Stephen Blakely for the defense.  The case went to the jury about 2:45 in the afternoon.

SOURCE: The Cynthiana (Ky.) Democrat, Thursday, June 24, 1926, Page 1, Cols. 5 & 6:

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