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The Trial of Patrick Kelley for the Murder of Hugh Sweeney


Source: The Alton Weekly Courier, June 4, 1857


Tuesday, May 26th - Patrick Kelley, on trial for the murder of Hugh Sweeney, near the Wood River coal mines. Prosecuting Attorney Fouke for the people, Messrs. Sloss & Rutherford for the prisoner. Appearance of Kelley - The prisoner is an Irishman of fine appearance, dressed well, and has an intelligent countenance, wears a continual smile and appears confident of acquittal. His wife is in court; she seems to be much affected.


Mr. Sloss objected to the indictment on the ground that the prisoner was called Sweesey once in the bill; over-ruled by the Court. Prisoner plead not guilty. Jury was then chosen from twenty-seven names as follows:


Lyman Burber, L. K. Cormann, W. D. Williams, W. M. Whaling, Jacob C. Gunterman, C. C. Vaughn, William Mize, John S. Wheeler, Joseph A. Dunnigan, William L. Boyd, and John Wood.


Mr. Fouke, on opening the case, said: That in this country, heretofore, we had been altogether too regardless of human life, and it was time some checks were given to this utter recklessness. He did not know all the circumstances of the case, but from what he did know he was of opinion that it was a case of comitigated murder, and that the prisoner, he believed, was deserving of the full penalty of the law.


Mr. Sloss said that the circumstances were such that he, the prisoner, was justified in using the means he did use to prevent the deceased from committing an injury to the prisoner. That the deceased, in the absence of the prisoner from his house, did attempt a rape upon her, the prisoner's wife; the prisoner then ran to the defence [sic] of his wife, and in such defence he inflicted a severe blow on the deceased; that deceased was in the habit of using intoxicating drink; and he denied that the deceased died from the wounds inflicted by the prisoner, but from other causes Court adjourned till two o'clock, P. M.


Afternoon - William Howard called for the prosecution. Knows Patrick Kelley; knew deceased; was called to Kelley's house about 12 P. M. by Kelley's wife; saw deceased lying on the floor; thought him dying; no one in the house but the witness, Kelley's wife and deceased; saw coal pick in the house; did not see Kelley till next morning.


Cross-examined - Does not know whether pick was in the house or outside the door; saw a hole over one of the prisoner's eyes; thought it was a bullet hole; deceased, when aroused by witness, said "For God's sake let me be."


Henry McDermott - sworn - First saw deceased about a yard from the door, in the house lying on his back; three pools of blood near him on the floor.


Dr. Nelson B. Richards - sworn - Found deceased dying; had seven wounds on his head and face; the integuments were detached from the scalp; deceased lived thirty-four hours from the time witness first saw him; think deceased came to his death from the effects of wounds inflicted with a convex instrument of the nature of a pick; some of them might have been caused by a chair; supposed the strokes were glancing; saw a pick in the house.


Cross-examined - Heard deceased speak but could not understand him; thought that liquor might cause similar symptoms as wounds on the brain; deceased smelled of liquor.


Daniel Martin - sworn - Saw deceased lying on the floor; three pools of blood near him; saw a pick near the fire; had ashes on it; looked as if it had been in the fire; did not see Kelly till next morning.


Cross-examined - The door of the house was off the hinges, lying near the deceased; had blood on it. Three pools of blood near the deceased, each about the size of witness' hand.


James Mannahan - sworn - Testified that prisoner admitted the commission of the deed.


Mr. Sloss here asked leave to introduce evidence to show for what reason, and under what circumstances, prisoner made said confession - could not show the facts except by the statements of the prisoner made afterwards - six hours having intervened between the confession, and the prisoner expressing his reasons for committing the offence. Evidence excluded by the Court.


John B. Carroll - sworn - Saw Kelly next morning when he came to the house; saw bruise on Kelly; also on Kelly's wife's face.


Witness is a brother-in-law of prisoner; said deceased was a habitual drunkard; know deceased some time; did not know how the scratches came on prisoner's or his wife's face.


Mr. Fouke made a short statement to the jury. Sloss and Rutherford followed; argued justifiable homicide.


Final argument by Fouke - Jury instructed and retired; absent about thirty minutes. Verdict - manslaughter. Sentence to the Penitentiary eight years. Prisoner appeared calm and collected.



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