Adkins Bankruptcy Case

Charleston Gazette
December 7, 1907

Believes That Witnesses Have Been Intimated

District Attorney Asks Court to Look up Defendants in Adkins Case

Sensational Testimony

Hentrick Brumfield Swears His Uncle Tried to Drown Him

When District Attorney Elliott Northcott made his opening address to the jury in the Adkins case, now on trail in the federal court, and told them that he would show them that this was one of the most important cases that has been tried before this or any other court: that he would prove beyond any reasonable double that these eleven defendants had been guilty of nearly every crime in the calendar, the statement was received with some degree of doubt by many who hear him. But judging from the evidence that was adduced yesterday from the government's witnesses, it must be admitted that what he told the jury is going to be proven.

Nearly every witness who testified yesterday showed just how desperate these defendants really are, and the testimony of Capt. Dan Cunningham unraveled a tale of horror that was realistic in every sense of the word.

District Attorney Northcott is gradually laying a chain of evidence which will connect the crimes that have been committed at Harts Creek, in Lincoln county, since the store of Margaret Adkins was placed, by the federal court, in the hands of J. P. Douglas, the receiver. All the testimony offered yesterday showed that the defendants were guilty of conspiracy, but the defendants, who will offer their testimony today, may change the aspect. The government closed its side of the case at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, and the court adjourned until this morning at nine, when the defendants will offer their testimony.

Hendrick Brumfield, who was on the stand Thursday when the court adjorned, was the first witness on the stand yesterday morning. He gave the sensational evidence of the trail by stating that his uncle tried to drown him, and further, that his life had been threatened several time.

Bill Abbott was the second witness, and he told of the conversation he heard before the robbery. Attorey Marcum put the witness through a severe cross-examination and questioned him particularly about the robbery, but his evidence was not shaken.

Mary Sanders, who is the divorced wife of Bill Abbott, was the next witness. Her testimony was mainly that she heard of the store being robbed. She told of the care that the event created; gave the names of those participating in the affair, mentioning Al Davis, who told her that he and Will Adkins would swear falsely if ever called on to testify and said that there was a band of them and that they would swear each other out of court. She saw several sacks of stolen goods, and swore that her house was shot up, and that she and the inmates were terrorized. On being cross- examined by Attorney Marcum. Mrs. Sanders testified that she had been indicted on a charge of conspiring to blow up a man's house, but had been acquitted of the charge.

Emory Mullins, the next witness, told that he was shot at in ambush for taking an active interest in this matter.

Tom Steadman swore that his life had been threatened if he testified in this case, and also, that he had been given a gun and told to go back to Brumfield's and stay there until he was needed.

Henry Adkins was the last witness to testify before court adjourned for the noon recess. He said that he had a conversation with Fred Adkins and told him that he would not tell about certain crimes that he knew of. He said that he made this remark for the reason that he was afraid of Fred. Judge Keller then announced that if necessary, he would have all the eleven defendants sent to jail and kept there when not in the court room until after the trail had been concluded. Mr. Northcott then addressed the court and said that the information had come to him straight that the government's witnesses had been intimidated since they arrived here, and he would make a motion to lock them up during the progress of the trail. Attorney Marcum said he had warned his clients not to say a word in regard to the case to anyone, and if it was known that they had disobeyed his orders he would not interpose any objection to their being held in custody during the remainder of this trail.

Henry Fleming, was the first witness on the reassembling of the court at 2 o'clock. He said he went over to Mad Adkins', and Adkins wanted to trade him several cases of shoes for a team of oxen. Mrs. Helena Ferguson testified that Charles Brumfield and Fred Adkins came to her store and accused her of allowing her two sons to testify against them before the grant jury, and said they used vile and threatening language. Wesley Ferguson told of his conversation with Fred Adkins, in regard to the robbery of the store.

Rosa Mullins saw Bob and Willard Fleming go past her house the night of the robbery on the way to Adkins' store. Isaac Mullins told of his going to Fred Adkins' house one night and Fred gave him 12 packages of coffee and three sacks of flour and that there was plenty more in the house.

Mrs. Callie Smith testified that she made a search of her house for stolen goods, and that none could be found. Three days afterwards someone put a sack of goods in the crib at her barn, and that she was aware who the person was that did the act.

Deputy Marshall Cunningham gave his testimony, and went over the ground fully. He told how the store was robbed and the result of his investigations. The testimony of Joseph Messer, Pat Rife and Receiver Douglas was along the line of the robbery of the store and the depridations committed by the defendants. The government rested its case at this point, and the court adjourned until this morning at 9 o'clock.

Crime and Punishment

West Virginia Archives and History