Crimes and Punishments.
murder of Patrick Gill. The prisoner had a knife in his hand when he was attacked by Gill, and in the quarrel Fleming struck the deceased with the weapon in the left side near the groin, causing the latter's death the same day. The defense was that the act was done in self-protection, and the jury acquitted Fleming.
On Oct. 23, 1829, Thomas Brooke was arraigned for the murder of William Brook, a Revolutionary soldier, the indictment setting forth that the accused had struck the deceased on the head with a stick, which killed him instantly. Hon. Edward Darlington, the then deputy attorney-general, abandoned the case after a few witnesses had been examined for the commonwealth, stating that "there was not a shadow of proof to support the accusation." The jury, without leaving the box, acquitted the defendant.
Charles Williams, a colored man, who had been convicted of burglary, on Oct. 24, 1829, was taken by Sheriff Broomhall, of Delaware County, to undergo a term of imprisonment at Cherry Hill. It is stated that Williams was the first prisoner from any part of the State ever confined in the present Eastern Penitentiary.
At November court, 1836, Richard Milner Martin, a colored man, was tried for killing William Patton by striking him on the head with a stick of wood. He was acquitted. On Nov. 29, 1838, Thomas McLaughlin was tried for the murder of William Pierce. The defendant, November 16th of the same year, struck the deceased on the head with a handspike, and from the injury death ensued the same day. The jury convicted the accused of manslaughter, accompanying their finding with a recommendation of the prisoner "to the most extended leniency of the court." McLaughlin was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in the penitentiary.
May 28, 1841, Thomas Cropper was convicted of the murder of Martin Hollis, and executed Aug. 6, 1841, in the jail-yard at Chester. This was the last capital conviction in Delaware County. A full account of this case will be given in the history of Birmingham.
On Nov. 23, 1841, Thomas Vanderslice, known to the detectives as "Old Tom Vanderslice," was tried for passing counterfeit money. He refused to employ or have counsel assigned to conduct his defense, but managed his own case, and made a speech to the court (Judge Bell was on the bench) which was remarkable for its boldness and impudence. He was convicted, and sentenced to three years' incarceration in the penitentiary. After his discharge, on March 24, 1848, he fell into the river at Dock Street wharf, Philadelphia, and was drowned.
On May 27, 1845, Alexander Harris, alias Dobson, was tried for the murder of Ruth Harris, an infant. The accused was a colored man, and the child was the fruits of his criminal intimacy with a white woman. The body of the infant was found at "Deep Hole," in Darby Creek, at Calcoon Hook, in a bag, in which was a heavy stone to sink it in the water. The jury, after three hours' deliberation, found the prisoner not guilty.
Nov. 27, 1846, Isaiah Spencer, indicted for shooting William Davis in the left breast, from which wound the latter died instantly, was arraigned. Spencer plead guilty to manslaughter, and was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary.
May 28, 1862, Martha J. Long, of Chester, was tried for the murder of her bastard child. The prosecution strove to show how she had strangled it, but the jury acquitted her of murder, but found her guilty of concealing the death of a bastard child. The court sentenced her to three months' imprisonment.
On Feb. 23, 1864, George Wilkinson was indicted for the murder of Ellen Jones and John Blair, in Middletown. The particulars of this crime are narrated in the history of that township.
On Feb. 26, 1866, John Ward, charged with engaging in a prize-fight with Farrell, near Linwood, which brutal exhibition took place on February 3d of the same year, was tried and convicted. The court sentenced him to two years' imprisonment in the Eastern Penitentiary.
Jan. 6, 1869, James Weir, a lad thirteen years of age, living in Chester, was tried for the murder of John Thomas, a youth of sixteen. The boys were employed in Patterson Mill, had quarreled, and in the scuffle Weir, with his pocket-knife, stabbed Thomas, who died almost immediately. The jury convicted the prisoner of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to one year's imprisonment. On November 25th of the same year Thomas Bryson, a shoemaker, of Marple, was tried for the murder of William Stinson. The deceased and the accused had a difficulty on September 22d, during which Bryson struck Stinson on the head with a stone, inflicting an injury from which death ensued the following day. The jury found a verdict of manslaughter, with a recommendation to the mercy of the court. Bryson was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.
Aug. 22, 1870, Sarah Seaburn, a widow, was tried for the murder of her father, Geo. Clay, of Upper Darby. She had struck him with a hatchet on the head, producing almost instant death. The jury acquitted her on the ground of insanity, and she was committed to the county-house.
Nov. 25, 1872, Joseph Worrall, Jr., was tried for the murder, in August preceding, of David Neidig. The deceased, with a number of ladies and gentlemen, were walking near Lima, when all of the party, excepting the deceased, went into the yard of Mr. Stork's dwelling for a drink of water. One of the party in the yard cast a stone, striking the house, and Worrall, who was in the house, came out and threw a stone violently at the crowd, who were then in the road, which struck Neidig on the head. He died three days afterwards. The jury found the accused