Abbildungen der Seite

1. “That the murder took place between ten and eleven o'clock.” 2. “That Richard Crowninshield was alone in the house.” 8. “That he, Frank Knapp, went home afterward.” 4. “That the club was deposited under the steps of the Howard Street meeting-house, and under the part nearest the burying-ground, in a rat hole.” 5. “That the dagger or daggers had been worked up at the factory.” It is said that these five answers just fit the case; that they are just what was wanted, and neither more nor less. True, they are; but the reason is, because truth always fits. Truth is always congruous, and agrees with itself; every truth in the universe agrees with every other truth in the universe, whereas falsehoods not only disagree with truths, but usually quarrel among themselves. Surely Mr. Colman is influenced by no bias, no prejudice; he has no feelings to warp him, except, now that he is contradicted, he may feel an interest to be believed. If you believe Mr. Colman, then the evidence is fairly in the case. I shall now proceed on the ground that you do believe Mr. Colman. When told that Joseph had determined to confess, the defendant said, “It is hard, or unfair, that Joseph should have the benefit of confessing, since the thing was done for his benefit.” What thing was done for his benefit? Does not this carry an implication of the guilt of the defendant? Does it not show that he had a knowledge of the object and history of the murder? The defendant said, “I told Joseph, when he proposed it, that it was a silly business, and would get us into trouble.” He knew, then, what this business was; he knew that Joseph proposed it, and that he agreed to it, else he could not get us into trouble; he understood its bearing and its consequences. Thus much was said, under circumstances that make it clearly evidence against him, before there is any pretence of an inducement held out. And does not this prove him to have had a knowledge of the conspiracy 7 He knew the daggers had been destroyed, and he knew who committed the murder. How could he have innocently known these facts? Why, if by Richard's story, this shows him guilty of a knowledge of the murder, and of the conspiracy. More than all, he knew when the deed was done, and that he went home afterward. This shows his participation in that deed. “Went home afterward”! Home, from what scene 7 home, from what fact? home, from what transaction ? home, from what place 2 This confirms the supposition that the prisoner was in Brown Street for the purposes ascribed to him. These questions were directly put, ard directly answered. He does not intimate that he received the information from another. Now, if he knows the time, and went home afterward, and does not excuse himself, is not this an admission that he had a hand in this murder? Already proved to be a conspirator in the murder, he now confesses that he knew who did it, at what time it was done, that he was himself out of his own house at the time, and went home afterward. Is not this conclusive, if not explained 2 Then comes the club. He told where it was. This is like possession of stolen goods. He is charged with the guilty knowledge of this concealment. He must show, not say, how he came by this knowledge. If a man be found with stolen goods, he must prove how he came by them. The place of deposit of the club was premeditated and selected, and he knew where it was. Joseph Knapp was an accessory, and an accessory only; he knew only what was told him. But the prisoner knew the particular spot in which the club might be found. This shows his knowledge something more than that of an accessory. This presumption must be rebutted by evidence, or it stands strong against him. He has too much knowledge of this transaction to have come innocently by it. It must stand against him until he explains it. This testimony of Mr. Colman is represented as new matter, and therefore an attempt has been made to excite a prejudice against it. It is not so. How little is there in it, after all, that did not appear from other sources? It is mainly confirmatory. Compare what you learn from this confession with what you before knew. As to its being proposed by Joseph, was not that known 7 As to Richard's being alone in the house, was not that known 7 As to the daggers, was not that known 7 As to the time of the murder, was not that known? As to his being out that night, was not that known 7 As to his returning afterward, was not that known 7 As to the club, was not that known 7 So this information confirms what was known before, and fully confirms it. One word as to the interview between Mr. Colman and Phippen Knapp on the turnpike. It is said that Mr. Colman's conduct in this matter is inconsistent with his testimony. There does not appear to me to be any inconsistency. He tells you that his object was to save Joseph, and to hurt no one, and least of all the prisoner at the bar. He had probably told Mr. White the substance of what he heard at the prison. He had probably told him that Frank confirmed what Joseph had confessed. He was unwilling to be the instrument of harm to Frank. He therefore, at the request of Phippen Knapp, wrote a note to Mr. White, requesting him to consider Joseph as authority for the information he had received. He tells you that this is the only thing he has to regret, as it may seem to be an evasion, as he doubts whether it was entirely correct. If it was an evasion, if it was a deviation, if it was an error, it was an error of mercy, an error of kindness—an error that proves he had no hostility to the prisoner at the bar. It does not in the least vary his testimony, or affect its correctness. Gentlemen, I look on the evidence of Mr. Colman as highly important; not as bringing into the cause new facts, but as confirming, in a very satisfactory manner, other evidence. It is incredible that he can be false, and that he is seeking the prisoner's life through false swearing. If he is true, it is incredible that the prisoner can be innocent. Gentlemen, I have gone through with the evidence in this case, and have endeavored to state it plainly and fairly before you. I think there are conclusions to be drawn from it, the accuracy of which you cannot doubt. I think you cannot doubt that there was a conspiracy formed for the purpose of committing this murder, and who the conspirators Were: That you cannot doubt that the Crowninshields and the Knapps were the parties in this conspiracy: That you cannot doubt that the prisoner at the bar knew that the murder was to be done on the nigh of the 6th of April: That you cannot doubt that the murderers of Captain White were the suspicious persons seen in and about Brown Street on that night: That you cannot doubt that Richard Crowninshield was the perpetrator of that crime: That you cannot doubt that the prisoner at the bar was in Brown Street on that night. If there, then it must be by agreement, to countenance, to aid the perpetrator. And if so, then he is guilty as PRINCIPAL. Gentlemen, your whole concern should be to do your duty, and leave consequences to take care of themselves. You will receive the law from the court. Your verdict, it is true, may endanger the prisoner's life, but then it is to save other lives. If the prisoner's guilt has been shown and proved beyond all reasonable doubt, you will convict him. If such reasonable doubts of guilt still remain, you will acquit him. You are the judges of the whole case. You owe a duty to the public, as well as to the prisoner at the bar. You cannot presume to be wiser than the law. Your duty is a plain, straightforward one. Doubtless we would all judge him in mercy. Toward him, as an individual, the law inculcates no hostility; but toward him, if proved to be a murderer, the law, and the oaths you have taken, and public justice, demand that you do your duty. With consciences satisfied with the discharge of duty, no consequences can harm you. There is no evil that we cannot either face or fly from, but the consciousness of duty disregarded. A sense of duty pursues us ever. It is omni

« ZurückWeiter »