Double Execution To-day.—That two young men, Pat Smith and Julius Christian, who murdered John C. Lacy in New Kent on the 17th of January, will be hanged at New Kent Courthouse to day. They confess their guilt. They have been interviewed by a reporter of The State.
Christian says that he cut Mr. Lacy's throat with a pocket-knife while Smith held his hands, and Smith says that ha got M. Lacy's hatchet after Christian had used the knife and struck him two or three times on the head with it. Then Christian cut him again, and Smith, to make sure that he was dead, chopped his neck with the hatchet. Smith, according to his own confession, seems to have been the leading spirit in the murder. Christian says that he bad nothing against Mr. Lacy, but assisted Smith because the latter had asked him to do so.
They seem to have very erroneous ideas about religion. Christian says that he has been a member of the church for a long time: that he was a member at the time of the murder. Smith says that he "got religion" after he was sentenced to death; that he was eight days "getting through." But both of them seem to think that as they have gone through some of the forms of religion there need be no more concern, and their remaining days will be spent in good cheer. When the cell-door was opened the reporter found them talking and laughing together, and when he left they were laughing.
- -Staunton Spectator. 25 March 1879
THE DEATH PENALTY.
Execution of Two of the Lacy Murderers New Kent Conrthouse.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE CRIME- THE CONDEMNED MEN TAKEN FROM RICHMOND YESTERDAY MORNING- THE TRIP TO THE GALLOWS SEEMINGLY AN ENJOYABLE ONE TO THEM- A GREAT CROWD PRESENT TO SEE THEM HANGED- CONFESSIONS FROM BOTH- DEATH SPEEDY IN CASE OF PAT. SMITH- FULL PARTICULARS OF THE REMARKABLE AFFAIR.
The particulars of the crime for which Julius christian and Patrick Smith paid the death penalty at New Kent Courthouse yesterday are doubtless still fresh in the memory of our readers. On Friday evening, February 17, 1879 John Calvin Lacy, a citizen of New Kent county, while returning from Richmond in a trading-cart, waylaid and murdered on the road. The body of the murdered man remained on the spot where the horrid deed was committed for some time, and when found it was in such a mutilated condition as to arouse intense feeling and active measures were soon taken to discover and arrest the authors of the atrocity.
Circumstances tending to connect Claiborne Smith, Patrick Smith, Julius Christian, and Andrew Whitney, four negro men living in New Kent, with the crime, they were all soon afterwards arrested and placed in confinement. Claiborne Smith, the youngest of the number made a full confession of his complicity in the crime, bat charged that the deed had been committed by his brother Patrick Smith and Julius Christian.
Julius Christian and Patrick Smith were tried at the January term of the County Court of New Kent- Judge J.H. Christian presiding.
The Commonwealth was represented by R.T. Lacy, Esq., and the prisoners were zealously defended by William E. Hart and George Jones, Esqs., counsel assigned them by the court.
Before the trial the accused had
CONFESSED THEIR CRIME.
The circumstantial evidence against them was of such a character that the juries deliberated but a short while before bringing in a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, and the Court sentenced them to be hanged on the 25th day of March, 1879, between the hours of 10 A.M. and 2 P.M., within sight of the court-house. The prisoners were then brought to this city and confined in Henrico county jail. Claiborne Smith was subsequently convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary for eighteen years. Yesterday, the day fixed by the Court for their execution, Julius Christian and Patrick Smith, the prisoners, were taken from the jail about 4 o'clock A.M. by Littleton Royster, sheriff of New Kent, and carried to the York-River Railroad depot, where a reporter for the Dispatch found them, surrounded by a detail of policemen, conversing cheerfully with the bystanders and
EATING GINGER CAKES
with evident satisfaction. The train started from the city about 5 o'clock, and all the way down the condemned men manifested be greatest indifference. They replied readily to all statement, which differs but little from their first confession. Julius Cbristian was the spokesman, and his declarations were frequently affirmed by Pat. Smith with "Yes," "Dat's so," "Sure nuff," &c.
Christian said that about, six weeks before the murder Pat. Smith and himself broke into the store of Major Townsend, at the Forge, and stole a lot of bacon and flour; that on the Tuesday preceding the Friday on which the murder was committed he met Mr. Lacy on the road, who, after some other conversation, asked him if he had seen Pat. and Claiborne Smith lately, and to his reply that he had Lacy, said, "If you don't stop going with them you will get in trouble," and, further, that he (Julius) would have to leave the county for something he had done. Christian said this conversation satisfied him that Lacy knew something about the robbery at Major Townsend's, and as Lacy had made threats against them at Talleysville a short while before, be thought it would be best to tell Smith about it and take some means of
PUTTING LACY OUT OF THE WAY.
He said Pat. Smith, Claiborne Smith, and himself met together and talked over the plans of accomplishing their object, when it was finally determined to kill Lacy and his body in Toink swamp. That accordingly they met at the swamp Friday evening, and shortly after dark Lacy came up, sitting in the cart with his feet hanging outside. That they did not consider the spot favorable for their purpose, but followed the doomed man some distance up the road. That Patrick Smith, running under the cart, caught Lacy by the feet, and attempted to pull him out, and did succeed in doing so after a struggle, in which Lacy seized a hatchet and attempted to cut.
Christian said that Lacy fell down in the road on his face, and that as soon as was down he (Christian) ran forward and, pressing him to the ground.
CUT HIM ACROSS THE THROAT
twice with a new pocket-knife. He said that Lacy struggled very hard, and rising on his knees, said: "Boy, don't hart me; take everything in the cart, but don't kill me," and still fighting and crying murder, got up and ran for some distance. Christian said he was frightened because Lacy had recognized him, and held back, but that Smith ran back to the cart and getting the hatchet, pursued Lacy, and exclaiming "Come on, now's your time," caught him in the back and struck him a blow in the temple, which rendered him unconscious and followed up the assault by several blows across the throat, which cut the neck almost in two.
The train arrived at Summit Station at 6 1/2 o'clock, where twenty mounted men had been provided as an armed escort by the vigilant sheriff.
The prisoners were put in a two-horse wagon in which were seated Deputy-Sheriff Zach. Crump, Messrs. Waddill and Tinsley, Dr. George W. Richardson and the Dispatch Representative. After some little delay the procession moved on the road to the court-house, fourteen miles distant.
ON THE ROAD TO DEATH
many accessions were made to the crowd, and before reaching Talleysville the procession was probably half a mile long. Men, women, and children, white and black, on foot and in all manner of vehicles, made up the procession, and the occupants of the various farm-houses on the line hurried to the roadside to see the strange sight. The prisoners appeared as unconcerned as ever. They munched ginger-bread with great avidity or smoked cigars with as much gusto as if on a holiday Jaunt, and were evidently pleased to see the interest they excited. At Talleysville Julius Christian's mother came up to the wagon, and embracing and calling him her "precious lamb," bade a final farewell to her son. There was something pathetic in her utterances, but Julius was unmoved; and when she besought the sheriff to send the body to her the son replied, "Go 'way; the body ain't no account." When the procession arrived within sight of the gallows, Pat. Smith, looking at the vast crowd in its vicinity, exclaimed:
"GREAT LORD! LOOK AT DE PEOPLE.
Dar dey is sctiin" up iu de trees like turkey buzzards" Arrived at the spot, the condemned men were dismounted and carried in the courtroom, where the shrouds of black cambric were placed upon them. The coffins were then placed in the wagon and the prisoners seated upon them. The gallows, which was erected about one fourth of a mile -south of the court-house, was soon reached, the men placed upon the trap, and the noose adjusted. After reading the death-warrant Sheriff Royster said: "Julius Christian, have you anything to say before the sentence of the law is executed upon you?" Christian replied that he had, and for about fifteen minutes poured out in a singing tone an incoherent exhortation to those present, declaring his readiness to die, and saying that he would soon awake "in Abraham's bosom." He then made a short and unsatisfactory confession of his crime. Pat. Smith also declared his readiness to die. He said, "The Lord had told him nothing should harm him at that hour"; and concluded by saying, "Good-bye, all ! The Lord done spoke peace to my soul. I am prepared to die, and I am gwineto Heaven- I reckon." When the confessions had been made there was some feeling manifested among those present, and
ONE MAN VOLUNTEERED TO PULL THE TRAP;
but Sheriff Royster replied, "No, sir; it is my painful duty to do so." After adjusting the caps Pat. Smith said, "Mr. Royster, send my things home," alluding to a "small bundle of clothing. At 11:40, everything being in readiness, Sheriff Royster and Deputy-Sheriff Crump seized the rope tied to the stake supporting the trap, and, giving a sudden pull, the support fell from beneath them and Julius Christian and Patrick Smith were ushered into eternity. Smith being the heavier of the two died without a struggle; but Christian died of strangulation, and his body swayed back and forth several times before his struggles ceased. At 12 o'clock Dr. L. A. Slater examined the bodies and pronounced life extinct. The bodies were then cut down that of Christian given to his friends and Smith's buried at the foot or the gallows. It is estimated that
TWO THOUSAND PERSONS
were present on the ground, and the day appeared more a holiday than otherwise. A tent had been erected on the green, in which a negro-minstrel entertainment was going on, a patent-medicine man was vending his nostrums, and a good business was done by the vendors of oysters and other edibles. Good order prevailed, however, and Sheriff Royster deserves commendation for the propriety which characterized the conduct of all under his charge, and the careful and skillful manner with which he discharged the unpleasant duties devolving upon him.
- Daily Dispatch, 26 March 1879