Sixteen were indicted in the assassination of Governor Goebel, and for those who went to trial, the proceedings were fraught with irregularities. Goebel was shot January 30, 1900, as he approached the capitol where his disputed election was being decided. He was sworn in as governor next day and died February 3, 1900.

Nine Trials Followed The Murder Of Governor Goebel

Sixteen were indicted in the assassination of Governor Goebel, and for those who went to trial, the proceedings were fraught with irregularities. Goebel was shot January 30, 1900, as he approached the capitol where his disputed election was being decided. He was sworn in as governor next day and died February 3, 1900.

Sixteen were indicted in the assassination of Governor Goebel, and for those who went to trial, the proceedings were fraught with irregularities. Goebel was shot January 30, 1900, as he approached the capitol where his disputed election was being decided. He was sworn in as governor next day and died February 3, 1900.

Indictments Returned, Arthur Goebel Testifies, Youtsey Insists Innocence And Becomes Courtroom Entertainment

By L. F. Johnson ca. 1920

On April 16, 1900, the grand jury of Franklin County, Kentucky, returned into court indictments for the willful murder of William Goebel against Henry Youtsey, James Howard, Berry Howard, Harlan Whittaker, and Richard Combs. On April 17th, Charles Finley, John L. Powers, William H. Culton, Caleb Powers, and F. Whorten Golden were indicted for being accessories before the fact to the willful murder of William Goebel.

On April 18th, true bills were returned against Green Golden, John W. Davis, and W. L. Hazelipp. On February 2nd, a true bill was returned against Garnett D. Ripley for being accessory, etc. On May 5th, a true bill
was returned against former Governor W. S. Taylor for being accessory before the fact, and on February 1, 1902, Frank Cecil and Zack Steel were likewise indicted.

On the petition of Henry Youtsey and Caleb Powers their cases were transferred to the Scott County Circuit Court.

Capt. Garnett D. Ripley was the first to be tried on the charge of being accessory to the murder of Governor
Goebel. He was tried at Frankfort and was acquitted by the jury. He was prosecuted by Col. R. B. Franklin, the prosecuting attorney of the Frankfort district, who was assisted in the prosecution by Mr. Thomas Campbell of New York, and Judge Ben G.
Williams of Frankfort. Ripley was defended by Judge J. T. O’Neal of Louisville, Col. William Cravens of New Castle, Judge P. U. Major, and L. F. Johnson of the Frankfort bar.

There were nine trials of those accused of the assassination of William Goebel. Garnett D. Ripley and Berry Howard were acquitted, and Henry E. Youtsey was convicted and sentenced to the penitentiary for life. He accepted the sentence as just and took no appeal. James B. Howard was tried three times; the first trial resulted in a conviction, with the penalty at death. The Court of Appeals reversed the case and the second and third trials the jury fixed the punishment at confinement in the penitentiary for life. His case was reversed the second time, and the third time the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court. Howard was serving a life sentence when Republican Governor Augustus E. Wilson pardoned him.

Caleb Powers was also tried three times; the first and second trials resulted in conviction and the punishment fixed at confinement in the penitentiary for life. Each time the Court of Appeals reversed the case, and in the third conviction the punishment was fixed at death. The case was appealed the third time, and it was pending before the Court of Appeals when Governor Wilson pardoned him. Governor Wilson also pardoned W. S. Taylor and John W. Davis.

In the trial of Ripley the attorneys for the defense admitted the conspiracy and joined with the prosecution in the charge against the leaders of the Republican party for causing the assassination, claiming, of course, that the defendant was not in the conspiracy. In the defense of Berry Howard the attorneys followed the same plan and accomplished the same end. In the defense of James B. Howard on his first trial, the attorneys who represented him, to wit: W. C. Owens, J. B. Finnell, and Carlo Little, undertook to defend the leaders of the Republican party and so thoroughly did they commit him to that defense that the attorneys who undertook to defend him the second time were unable to get away from the line of defense used in the first trial. The attorneys who defended Howard at his second trial were James A. Scott, James A. Violett, Carlo Little, and L. F. Johnson, all of whom were Democrats. These Democratic lawyers found themselves in the anomalous position of defending the Republican party, and by reason of that fact some of them refused to defend Howard at his third trial. Without expressing any opinion as to whether James B. Howard was guilty or innocent of the charge, it is safe to say that if the attorneys who defended Ripley had been employed to defend Howard when tried the first time, he never would have been convicted. The facts and circumstances connecting him with the case were of such a nature that, notwithstanding the confession of Youtsey, it would have been a most difficult matter to convict him if his attorneys had undertaken to defend him in the place of defending the leaders of the Republicans party. The defense of Youtsey was a different proposition. His confession before and after he was arrested and his conduct were such that his conviction necessarily followed. The only thing which saved him from the gallows was the fact that he “threw a fit” at a very opportune time.

Youtsey was ably defended by Major R. W. Nelson, Judge James Askew, and Colonel Crawford, a half-brother of Youtsey. He was strongly prosecuted by Col. R. B. Franklin, Thomas Campbell, and Victor A. Bradley. Judge James E. Cantrill was the presiding judge. In the trial of Caleb Powers there were different conditions to meet. He had so identified himself with the leaders of the Republican party that he had become its brain and backbone, and there was no defense that he could make that was separate from his party. His attorneys soon realized that his defense was almost a hopeless task.

The attorneys for the prosecution in the Powers case were R. B. Franklin, Thomas Campbell, Victor F. Bradley, B. G. Williams, John K. Hendricks, and T. S. Gaines. The attorneys who defended him were J. S. Simms, Jere Morton, J. B. Finnell, L. F. Sinclair, A. T. Wood, and James A. Violett. Judge Robbins was the presiding judge.

Henry E. Youtsey was tried at Georgetown in October 1900. On October 9th, he “threw a fit” in the court room. It was near the close of the Commonwealth’s evidence. Mr. Arthur Goebel, brother of William Goebel, was placed on the stand and the question was asked him, “Have you ever had a conversation with Henry E. Youtsey, the accused?”
“I have.”
“Where, and what time?”
“On the day of his arrest and on the second floor of the county jail.”
“Will you repeat the conversation?”
“I was out of the city at the time he was arrested; when I returned there after I–.”

“It is a lie,” said Youtsey, as he started towards Mr. Goebel. “I never had a conversation with that man in my life, at the jail or anywhere else; I will–” Here he was stopped by his attorney, but in a short time he continued. “I will not stand here and hear my life sworn away. I have no blood on my hands; I am innocent; he cannot swear my life away.” At this juncture Mrs. Youtsey threw her arms around him and tried to stop him. “Let me go,” he said. “I won’t stop,” and in his struggle he struck his wife. As he sank into his chair, Mrs. Youtsey turned to Mr. Goebel and said, “I hope you are satisfied now. You have killed him,” and she fell fainting into her mother’s arms. Two deputy sheriffs had taken hold of Youtsey. He struggled desperately for a short time and then broke down and cried like a child. The courtroom was full of excited people. Several ladies had to be carried out. The sheriff was not able to keep order. The sobs of Mrs. Youtsey were in concert with those of women from all parts of the room. Attorney Crawford had taken hold of Youtsey to quiet him when he called out, “I tell you that Goebel is…..

Finish this story and more in our March 2016 issue!


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