The Columbia Democrat. (Bloomsburg, Pa.) 1837-1850, January 27, 1838, Image 1

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"I liavo sworn ufoon the Altar 'of God, eternal hostility to c cry form of Tyranny over the Mind of Man.--Thomas Jefferson.
Volume I.
Kkpihiteii roii tub Columbia Demociiat.
In tho Oyer and 'terminer for Columbia county,
held it Danville, January Term, 1839, hcfoio the
Ho'noraMo ELtlS LEWIS, President, and tho
Hun. William AfoxTuoxKitr, and I.f.(ikaiu)
llurr.iiT, Usuirca, Associate Judges TMhnaa
;T. J'oke was charged with tho murder of John
. liorncll ; the Grand Jury returned 'a thue nut'
on tho Indictment ; and tho trial commenced on
Monday, January 16th, 1838.
Timiitfi Wi T- r, .... i ' ' - n 1
Veral, Jlltd Gtdnat A. FmcK and II. V. Tiiouk-
toh, Esquires, appeared for tho Commonwealth.
Joux Cooper and John O. MoxTnTunnr, Es
quires, appeared for the Prisoner.
After the indictment had boon read to hc
prisoner, and ho had entered his plea of
"not guilty," and that "ho pus himself upon
his country for trial," the Court informed
him that those good men whom he should
hear called! were to pass judgment between
the .ommon wealth fc him; upon his life, his
deAth and his liberty; that ho was entitled to
"twenty peremptory challenges without
shoeing cause, and as many more as ho
could bIiow sufficient cause for rejection ;
and that if ho did challenge any he must do
so before they were severally sworn or af
firmed. The jury were then called, sever
ally commanded to look upon the prisoricr,
and Were cither swdrh and affirmed, or
challenged as follows, viz :
Jonathan' Purscm. affirmed.
Hiram Phillips: challenged peremptorily
Peter Appuiman sworn.
Aid Holder sworn.
William Giiiton, Esq sworn.
John Ikelcr challenged peremptorily.
r.,.i. tvii i . . .
uuau-jm urn Having COnSCICIlllOUS ECril-
ples against finding a verdict of gililty in a
capital case, where the punishment would
bo death, was challciigetl By the common
John Shearer sworn.
Moses Hartman: challenged peremptorily
Joseph Brown having formed and ex
pressed an opinion as to to the guilt or in
hocenco 8f the accused, was challenged for
John Sharplcss having conscientious
scruples, was challenged for cause by tho
Abraham M. Robbins challenged for
same cause.
iibnry Kitclicn having formed and ex
pressed an opinion was challenged for cause.
John McVilliams sworn.
John McMahan stvorn.
Jacob Genscl: challenged peremptorily.
Groves Dban: having conscientious scru
ples, was challenged for cause.
John Oiil, Esq sworn.
Jacob Swivenheisor: challenged per
emptorily. Johrt Johnson : having formed arid ex
pressed an opinion, was challenged for
Frederick Swab'y: challenged pcrerftp
iorily. Daniel Wo6dside: challenged percinp
iorily, Jacob Sheep : having formed and expres
sed an bpmion, was challenged for cause.
John It. Eves: challenged for same
John Remly sworn.
Daniel Peeler: having formed and ex
pressed art opinion, was ohallenged for
John Stucker . challenged peremptorily.
Alexander Colley sworn.
John Hemuno rmetf.'
Daniel Cromloy : challenged poremptor-
Jonathan Lodge: challenged peremp
torily. William S. Davis : challenged peremp
torily; Henry Crawford riflaving' formed and
expressed an opinjoRyaa challenged for
cause, 4$'
Jesso Funston't challenged for "same
John Vfnum sworn.
The Jury then empannelled consisted of
the following persons, viz :
Jonathan Pufsell. of Bloom.
Peter Appleman, of HVmlock,
Aid Holden, of Derry,
Jniliam Girton, Esq., of Hemlock,
John Shearer, of Limestone,
Johii Mc Jniliams, of Liberty,
John McMahan, of Liberty,
John Ohl, Esq., of Hemlock,
John ficmley, of Bloom,
Alexander Colley, t of Sugar Loaf,
John Herring, of Jloom, and
John iVtrlnian, 6 Bloom.
Iram Dkrr, and James Edoar, two con
stables in attendance, were appointed hy
the Court to attend the Jury, and severally
sworn neither to speak to the Jury them
selves, nor suffer any olher person to speak
to them, touching any riiattcr relative to the
trial ; and lodgings and entertainment were
ordered to be provided for them at the pub
lic house of Mr. William Ilenrie.
The indictment was then read to the Ju
ry by Mr. Comly, and the cause on the part
of the commonwealth opened by Hiram A.
Thornton, Esq., in a pertinent speech, iii
which he explained the nature and impor
tance of the cause, and the kind of evidence
which would be produced in the trial against
the prisoner at tho bah
The Counsel for the Commonwealth then
called the following witnesses, who sever
ally testified as follows : .
Stephen Sprout. This witness, a small
boy about ten years of age was not permit
ted to testify, because he did not know the
nature of an oath ; and the counsel for the
commonwealth placed him in proper hands
to receive the necessary instruction.
Sarah, Ann Sprout, sworn. Thomas
Poke and Betty Poke were in the kitchen
at Win. Sproul's house in Madison town
ship, Columbia Couilty. Dorncll cajnc to
tho door, and wanted in, and after he open
ed the door and camo in, he took hold of
Poke and pulled him back. Poke struck
him, and Dornell fell out on the porch. He
struck him with an axe only once. It
was this winter, on a Saturday night. He
hit him oh the back. When Dornell was
fetched into the house he dragged one Ice.
ahd after he was laid down he spoke, but
with great difficulty. Ho died at Sproul'
after a day and part bf a night. No person
else struck Dornell, nor did Dornell strike
Poke. I was very much alarmed at the
time. My frfthcr was not at home, and no
person was there but Mr. Poke, his daugh
ter Betsy, Margaret Welsh, and brother
Stephen. Dornell was bleeding at Ins foic
head when brought in.
Cross-examined by Counselor prisoner.
It was after dark when Poke caiho to father's
house. He came into tho kitchen, and his
daughter with him.' Ho asked for supper
and for lodgings ; and him and his daughter
were sitting by the fire while wc were pre
paring supper for them. Dornell was in
tho bar room making a great noise ; and I
1'astcHeu the door of the kitchen with a
knife to keep him ouf. Ho swofo and
stormed a great deal, and when he pushed
the door open the staple came out. When
he came in Poke said " how do you do,
John," in u friendly manner ; and Dornell
took hold of him by tho hair of the head.
There was no candlelight in tho kitchen
when Dornell broko in, and itot much light'
from tho fire. After Dornell fell down Poke
had a fit right away, which lasted perhaps
half an hour ; and whou Poke recovered,
him and his daughter lifted Dornell up, bro't
him in, and put a pillow under his head.
Poke and father were sitting by Dorncll
When I went to bed. Poke left our houso
next morning after sunrise, Poko and Bet
sy travelled in a! wagon. The stroke was
given' before Dofnell was In five minutes.
Re-examined by Commonwealth's Coun
sel. It was light enough in tho kitchen to
tell who camo in.' Tho blow1 was struck
in tlio kitchen door while Dorncll was going
out, and when he fell his feet lay inside of
tho door. Dornell was an old nian, but he
was a larger1 man than Poke. Poko was
not in the bar-room before he camo into the
kitchen. Ho fwas at father's house tho
same day about noon. Dorncll camo to
our house on Friday at noon, and was there
until tho time of his death. Dornell lived
three quarters of a mile from father's.
Margaret Welsh, sworn. This witness
wa's nearly blind, but said she saw Dorncll
break open the door, and take hold of Poke.
She did'nt see Poke strike Dornell, nor did
she seo Dornell until after he was brought
in, when he was a little bloody. Saw Poke
in tho fits. , Sproul came home about two
hours aftcrgDornell was struck. Dornell
died on a bed in the back room on Monday
evening about 7 or 8 o'clock.
Cross-examined by prisoner's Counsel
The kitchen door was fastened when Dor
nell broke it open. I made supper for
Ttllliam Sproul, mvorn, It was Satur
day night tho 25th of November last, that
I came into the house, and saw Dorncll lay
near the fire. Poke and his daughter were
sitting with Dornell. I spoke to Dornell,
but he made no answer. He died on the
evening of the 27th of November last. Poke
told me he had had fits.
Cross-examined by prisontr's Counsel,
Poko lives 9 miles from, our house, aHd it
is 3 miles to Jerseytown. It is ten feet
from the chimney to the door, and two feet
from the out-sido of the hearth to the jam.
Poke left iriy house after sun-rise next
slmhcn sprout. 1 his boy was again
called, and after sonic examination with re
spect to his bompetency on the grtfund be
fore stated, was admitted to testify the
Court leaving his credibility to be judged
by the jury.
Stephen sprout, sworn. JJornell was
in the bar-room before Poke came. Poke
sat down by the fire, and was warming
himself, when Dornell came in and caught
Poke by the hair and pulled him over. Bet
sy Poke then struck Dornell with a stick
of wood, and Poko got the axo and struck
Dornell with it three times, and the last
stroKo he hit him upon the head, and Dor
nell fell down on tho pdrch his head out
and his feet pretty near out. Then Poke
fell down on the floor and had fits, tumbling
over and over, and Betsy Poke had to keep
hini.out of the fire. Dornell's face was to
wards tho door when he first struck ; the
second time he was a slep further, and the
third time he was by the door. Poke draw
cd up hard, and struck him betweeh the
shoulders, Betsy Poko tried to catch tho
axe. Poke's fits lasted half an hour, and
Dornell laid at tho door till Poko recovered,
when he and Betsy brought Dornell in and
laid him on a pillow. When Dornell fell
he said Poke you've killed me.
Cross-examined by prisoner's Counsel.
When Dornell camo into the kitchen,
Poke reached out his hand and said " how
do you do, John i" and Dornell caught him
by the hair and pulled him over. I brought
tho axo in. It was lying in the chimney
corner. Ho struck with the side of tho axe.
Poko was at our houso on Saturday at noon,
and John Dornell, Jesso Robbins, and oth
er s.wero there. Dornell and Poko spoko to
gether and shook hands. Poko took a drink
and offered Dornell a drink, but he refused;
and Poko then went to Jerseytown. It was
night when ho camo back. His daughter
was witli him, and he had a grist and other
things in his wagon. They camo first into
tho kitchen; Dornell was in the bar-room
making a great noise. Tho Kitchen door was
fastened, and Dornell sworo and made a
great noise at tho window, and afterwards
broke open the door. There was no candle-light
in tho kitchen. I don't know how
many days aro in a year, nor in a month.
I can dount six.
Dr. Iiussel Parke, sworn. When I
went into Sproul's j saw Dornell lying on
a bed in a back room. I took a cloth off
from his forehead, and discovered a wound
probably three-fourths of an inch in length,
which was down to tho scull-bone, but no
fracturo could bo found. Dornell mado no
answer to any questions, except inarticu
late sounds. I could sec nothine in his
eyes ) his pulse was regular, but slow ; and
bleeding made no change. I could discov
er no swelling in his baclt ; and while ex
amining that part of his body, Dornell said
his back did'nt hurt him, but his head did.
I could again find no fracture, and really
supposed it more the effects of liquor than
any violence done him. I did not after
wards see him while alive. I was at tho
inquest on Monday night; we stripped
the body, hut could find no marks on tho
back; his scalp was discoloured, but I could
find no fracture, but under the scalp wo
found extravasated blood : we then took
the scalp off, but yet could find no crack or
fissure ; I was at the post mortem cxamin
ation on Thursday evening after ; we took
all the scalp off of the top of the head, and
discovered a crack on the right side of the
head on the temporal bone, which ei
tended round tho occipital to the left side of
the head, and a transverse fracture also ex
tended from the occipital bone about three
fourths of an inch in length ; we took off
the top of tho scull, and found extravasated
blood under tho temporal bone, on the right
side of the head, which was an inch
thickness and three inches in diameter ; on
examining the brain wc found the right side
softer than the left ; the chest and contents
of the abdomen appeared perfectly natural
and in the whole length ot the spine wc
found nothing" wrong. This examination
was on the body of John Dornell, and I was
assisted by Dr. Murray and Dr McMahan
I supposed his death occasioned by the bo
agulum of blood in the Bcull, but the blood
pressing upon the brain induced his death
I think the effusion of blood was occasion
ed by violence. Before death I discovered
no symptoms of pressure upon the brain
but I now thinic his death was occasioned
by the effusion of blood. I heard the tes
tiinony to-day respecting Poke's fits, an
I never saw any body labouring under tl
fits that acted as described by the witness
es. A person having epileptic fits will not
turn over and over ; and I have no knowl
edge of other fits that will produce such an
effect, unless intoxication.
Cross-examined by prisoner's Counsel.
From the examination of John Dorncll
I think he did not receive more than ono
stroke. I saw but ono placo where a blow
could have been given ; and I found no mark
except on the side of the head. There was
no depression of bone where the effusion
was ; and the blow must have been given
with tho side of the axe. I nevci knew
that fear or anger would produce fits : they
might produce a total prostration of the sys
tem, having more the appearance of a corpse
than any thing else, and stimulents would
be a proper application for relief. I con
sider "Rush on tho mind" good authority.
The clenching of tho fists and frothing at
tho mouth are evidences of an epileptic fit;
the contraction of the muscles keeps the
body in motion, and rolling over is neither
an impossible nor improbable concomitant,
At tho inquisition befbro 'Squire Thomas,
Stephen Sproul was examined, but not un
der oath. He. was objected to because fie
did not understand tho nature of an oath.
He said Poke had struc5 Dorncll three times
once about tho middlo of the. back, and be
tween that and tho shoulders, and tho third
limo below the neck. lie never said he
was struck upon the hoad.
Dr. John C. Murr,ay, sworn. I was at
tho post mortem examination of John Dor
nell's body at Millville, on the 30th of No
vember, 1837, which was an inquest held
by tho Coroner. After the body was dis
interred it was carried to the sohool-house,
near tho grave-yard, in a coffin, where it
was taken out and laid upon two benches
for examination. Wo examined tho body
externally, but found' no marks of violonco
except upon tho head, which appeared to
bo contused, and a small wound abovo the
left oye. An incision was then made from
oar to ear across the top of tho head. Dr.
Parke and myself dissected, and Dr. Mc
Mahan took tho notos of examination, Tho
Number 40.
anlerior portion of tho scalp was dissected
forward, and the posterior portion .back
wards ; and wo found a largo collection of
extravasated blood between tho scalp and
the bone, extending over the parietal bono
of tho right sid,e, and the occipital bono.
The occipito frontalis and temporal muscles,
ana the tacia ana perecranium being remo-
vcu, we discovered a fissure nine and a hal
inches in length, in the cranium, covering
about tho middle of the right temporal bone,
and passing across the posterior-inferior an
gle of the parietal bone, across the upper
portion of the occipital bone, and termina
ting in' the lamdoidal suture on the left
side'. We also discovered a transverse frac
ture three-fourths of an inch in length, com
mencing in the main fissure, and running
up to the lamdoidal suture, one inch from
the saggetal suture, on the left side. Here
the Court suggested the necessity of using
languagewhich would let those understand
the meaning ivho were not acquainted with
the technicalities of anatomy.' We then
removed the top of the cranium, and found
a large collection of extravasated blood be
tween the bone and dura-mater, about 3 or 4
inches in diameter and about an inch in
depth. We then removed the dura-mater,
and found the brain confused and disorganf
ized, especially under the coagulated blood.
There was considerable extravasated blood
in the substance of thb brain. Wc opened
the chest, but found no morbid appearance,
except an adhesion of the plura-castatis and
plura-ptilmonaris, produced from previous
inflamalion. The cavity of the abdomeit
was natural ; and from the occipital bone
down the whole length of the spine wero
found no marks of external violence. Thq
pressure on the brain from extravasated
blood, between the bone and dura-mater,
occasioned his death was caused by exter
nal violence of some kind. I hardly think
that a person in fits would turn over and
over. ,
Cross-examined by prisoner's CounseL
I can't say from examination whether
there was more than one stroke or riot. ;
We discovered but one spot, and the blow3
might have been repeated on the same place.
The perecranium was separated from the
bone on the right side of the head. I havd
attended patients witli epileptic fits, but not
while a fit was on them; oiie patient was sit
ting up, and his lower jaw dislocated by
tho spasmodic contraction of tho muscles.
Anger and fear combined might produce a
fit of appoplexy. I discovered neither ex
ternal nor internal marks of violence on any
other part of tho body. After fitsj th$ pa
tient would be apt to be prostrated arid
sore. ,.
Dr. McMahnn, sivom. I was present
at the post mortem examination. I think
the collection of extravasated and coagula
ted blqod between the bone and dura-mater
caused Donnell's death, which must have,
been occasioned by external violence I
could not say whether there was one or
more blows on the head. I never saw a per
son with fits rolling about ; after fits they
arc generally more or less .prostrate.
Chross-ixamined by prisoner's Counsel.
There were no external evidences of vi
olence on the back. If there wero two
strokes on the head they must have been
given on tho same place ; and tho stroko
was given with tho side of the axe.
John lusner, sworn. On the evening
that Poko came to 'Squire Thomas's, ho
got into conversation about Dornell. I
asked him whether he was angry when ho
struck him, and ho rqplied that ho was inj
as good a humor as he ever was. I told
him I was sorry to hear him say so. He
stated no reason for striking Dornellt 'Squire
'lhomas and family, Mrs. Poke and her
daughtor, and others, were present. . , ,
Cross-ea&mined by Prisoners Connscll
I cannot say positively that Poko under
stood my question; but the woids were
sed in English and German. Poke and,
myself have had' some differences, but they
were qoon over.
Caleb Thoms, Esq. affirmed. 1 heard"
a conversation between Poke and' John