The Murder of Lewis Collins

Welch Daily News
November 7, 1924

George Conley On Trial For The Murder Of His Father-In-Law, Lewis Col[l]ins

On the reconvening of criminal court this morning, with Judge James A. Strother presiding, the murder case of George Conley, charged with the slaying of his father-in-law, Lewis Collings [sic] at Litwar last June 10, was begun. It is probable that the case will be concluded this afternoon. Because of the prominence of Collins and Conley and the many relatives of the murdered man that court room was crowded when the trial began. Many people from the lower end of the county came to attend the trial.

Three witnesses gave testimony this morning. Two of these were physicians, Dr. H. L. Tutwiler, of Iaeger, and Dr. H. G. Camper, county coroner, who told of the nature of the wounds. Both testified that there were no powder burns. The murdered man was shot through the head with a pistol, the two bullets entering close together.

Chief I. S. Cline, of Iaeger, the first officer to arrive at the scene of the murder and make an investigation, was the third witness. Most of Chief Cline's testimony was favorable to the defense.

Collins was murdered in his room back of his store room on the night of June 10. He was asleep at the time. All indications pointed to an inside job.

A window pane taken from a window in the store bedroom will probably play a big part in the defense. This window pane was found under the window after the murder. Finger prints were noted on it, and it was sent off to be examined by an expert.

At the same time, Conley's finger prints were examined. It is said that the finger prints on the pane and those of Conley do not correspond.

Conley has been in jail since a few days after the murder.

Counsel for the defense are: Clarence Smith, of Pocahontas, and John F. Coldiron, of Catlettsburg, Ky.

Joseph M. Crockett and D. L. Auvil, of Iaeger, is assisting Judge G. L. Counts, prosecuting attorney, in prosecuting the case.

Conley Case To Go To Jury Late This Afternoon

It is expected that the case of George Conley, charged with the murder of Lewis Collins, his father-in-law at Litwar on June 10, will go to the jury late this afternoon. At noon today only two more witnesses remained to be examined.

The state closed its case before adjournment was taken Thursday afternoon. At that time counsel for defense moved that the court instruct the jury to return a verdict for the defense. This motion was overruled, and today the court indicated that he would let the case go to the jury.

Those who have watched the progress of the case state that in their opinion the case of the prosecution is not strong.

The theory of the defense is that the murder of Collins was accomplished by some one who feared that he would make a will in favor of Conley, who had married his only daughter and had made his home with Mr. and Mrs. Collins for a number of years and who was engaged in business with Mr. Collins.

Crime and Punishment

West Virginia Archives and History