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The Murder Trial of Joseph Deny
As Reported By
The Lewiston Evening Journal

Created May-2003

Lewiston Evening Journal, 8-Jan-1884


Their Trial at Bath, for the Murder of "Old Joe"

BATH, Me., Jan. 8th.

County Attorney Baker opened the case for government. We will show, he said, that Turner struck Joseph Denney down; that Hopkins kicked the prostrate man and that death resulted from blows received at the Hands of these two men.

Dr. C. W. Price testified he was called to the Plummer house at 2 o'clock on the morning of the murder; found a man dead on the floor; made an examination; the body was lying face down and across two logs; found a contusion on each side of the face; blood was oozing from the month; the pupils of the eyes were dilated and there was a cut under the right eye from the nose to the angle of the eye; the cut extended to the bone; there was a contusion of the lower jaw extending to the neck; blood was oozing from the wound; made a comparison of the heel of a boot; performed an autopsy found indications that the body had been subjected to a shock or concussion that alone was sufficient to cause death.

Dr. Abiel Libby testified that he was called to the Plummer house; saw a body on the floor; assisted in the autopsy; a rupture of a blood vessel caused death and blows caused the rapture; don't think the wounds were caused by falling; a depression indicated the heel of a boot caused the wound under the right eye.

William Lint testified he went to the Plummer house with Turner and Hopkins; it was about 10 o'clock P.M.; went into the kitchen; talked with Plummer, then went out doors; left Turner and Hopkins in the house. Afterwards went into the kitchen; saw an Indian lying on the door; Hopkins and Turner were in the room and an old lady on the lounge; went into Plummer's room; Turner came to the room and said he struck the Indian and Hopkins said he kicked him after he was down.

Lint's testimony was not concluded at adjournment.


Lewiston Evening Journal, 9-Jan-1884


Their Trial at Bath, for the Murder of "Old Joe"

Upon cross examination Sewell J. Plummer said Sam Turner and Hopkins after they got into the room brought out Mrs. Dennis. Turner placed her on a lounge and ravished her. Hopkins also ravished her. Mrs. Dennis called for help; went out of the upper room but returned; saw Joseph Dennis on the floor; did not see the Indians drink.

Joseph Francis testified - Occupied part of the Plummer house. The prisoners on the night of the murder first came into my apartments. Hopkins said, "Warm stove, if it wasn't warm I'd make it d--d hot." Turner asked for the girls. I left and went up stairs; went through my uncle's (Dennis) room, saw them on the bed; escaped from the a house by a sink spout.

David Carter testified - Occupied the upper room in the Plummer house. Was at the house on the night of the murder; heard Turner when he came up stairs. He wanted to get in the room; said his name was Charley White; he stated that he wished to see my daughter Stella; I replied he could not; Turner shouted, "I will come in or I will have your blood." Myself and family escaped through the window; when I returned saw Dennis on the floor.

Cross examined - Heard a voice in the room below, accompanied by stamping and jarring of the house.
Stella Carter corroborated the testimony of David Carter.

Alice Francis testified - Am the wife of Joseph Francis; saw the prisoners on the night of the murder, they came to the house about ten o'clock; was frightened by their boisterous talk and went up stairs; saw Dennis and his wife sitting on the bed as I passed though their room; heard Turner say to Carter that "he would have blood."

Samuel H. Lancaster testified - Live next door to Plummer's; saw Mrs. Dennis the night of the murder at my house; she told me that a tall man, (Hopkins) knocked down her husband, kicked him and that his throat was cut.

Deputy Sheriff Charles R. Hodges testified; Was called to Plummer's house at 12.10 o'clock on the night of the murder, accompanied by officers: found the body of a man on the floor; made an examination and found marks and contusions on the face; turned the body over when a physician arrived; saw blood spots on the floor; caused the arrest of Hopkins, Turner, and Lint; Turner had a revolver in his room when the arrest was made; the nails in the hole of Hopkins' left boot compared with marks on the right side of Dennis' face.

The statement by Hopkins while under arrest to constable Spaulding, which the State wished to place in evidence, was not admitted by the court. The defense opened its case Wednesday.


Lewiston Evening Journal, 10-Jan-1884


Their Trial for the Murder of Old Joe, - Their Version of the Matter.

Bath, Jan. 10th.

Wednesday morning the defense in the Richmond murder case was opened.

The counsel for Turner claimed that he would have testimony that no rape was committed at Plummer's house on the night of the murder; that his client did not murder Joseph Dennis.

The counsel for Hopkins claimed that he (Hopkins) does not know who struck Joseph Dennis, nor does he know what Turner did with Mrs. Dennis on that night.

Thirty witnesses for the defense were called and sworn.

Lorenzo H. Turner was placed on the stand just before the adjournment at noon.

On the re-assembling of the court the prisoner gave his testimony as follows: -

Lorenzo H. Turner Testifies.

I am a resident of Richmond; am 23 years old; was at work on December 12; boarded two miles from the village; went to the village that evening; got home about 5.30 o'clock; went for the purpose of settling bills; met Hopkins soon after arrival; visited rum shops and drank freely; drank with Lint and Hopkins; all three got into a wagon and started for home; drove directly to Plummer's; no agreement was made to enter the house; Lint made the suggestion when in sight that we should go in. Lint entered first, myself and Hopkins followed together; had no purpose in entering; never was there before. Mr. and Mrs. Dennis and Plummer went to a room. Plummer was near his bed room door, and Dennis was siting near the door of the room he occupied; had seen him once before; knew Plummer by sight.

All drank whiskey from a bottle: think Mrs. Dennis drank. Saw Hopkins take the bottle from her; saw Hopkins pass a half dollar to Mrs. Dennis. Hopkins went out doors with Lint, and Dennis and wife went into their room. Went into Dennis room for Mrs. Dennis; asked her to go into the kitchen; Mr. Dennis than grasped my shoulders; I struck him with the back of my hand; she then went with me to the couch in the kitchen. Then went back to Indian's room; was struck in the face while passing through the door; thought I had been struck with a stick; bled much from a wound near the right eye and nose. Then went up stairs and asked permission to enter; Carter replied that he would split my head open. I asked Stella to let me in; then burst open the door. I had a revolver that night. Then went down stairs to the Old Indian's room. In the next room I saw the old man on the floor. I said, "Hello! what's the matter with him?" Plummer replied, "Guess he's drunk." Hopkins coming in and seeing the old man on the floor said "Hello, you've turned in for the night have you?" Found Lint in Plummer's room and all went out; was arrested next morning; did not knock the old Indian down; did not kick him; did not hear Hopkins say he kicked the Indian.

Cross Examination - Had no invitation to Indian's house that night; don't remember saying I would have blood; broke in the door to get young Joe for the purpose of assault for striking me; Mrs. Dennis identified me next day.

Louis E. Hopkins Testified.

Went to the village with Lint that evening; met Turner and drank many times; on our return home we stopped at Plummer's; went into the porch; don't recollect speaking about the fire; liquor was passed and we all drank; gave Mrs. Dennis fifty cents for liquor; took Lint outside near the back door where we remained thirty minutes; returned to house same way and saw the Indian on the floor; saw Turner's face was bleeding; he said he had been struck with a club. Lint coming out I said, "For God's sake don't come in here, lets go home"; was arrested that night; didn't know when I left the house the Indian was dead; did not strike or kick the old Indian; did not ravish Mrs. Dennis, have a difficulty with my left foot and would not attempt to kick with it. Lint's testimony as to my kicking Mr. Dennis is false; did not hear Turner say he struck Dennis.

Cross Examined - Thought the Indian was drunk; have not stated that I saw the Indian kicked ___ Mrs. Dennis next morning at Plymouth; Mrs. Dennis said I was one of the men at the house the night before; recollect Mrs. Dennis said I killed her husband. I made no reply.

Nineteen witnesses were examined as to the general reputation of prisoners. The testimony for defence is nearly all in and the case will go to the jury, Thursday.


Thursday's Proceedings


BATH, Me., Jan, 10th,

Counsellors Spaulding and Heath argued for the defense in the Richmond case this afternoon. Attorney-General Cleaves' case will go to the jury to-night.


Lewiston Evening Journal 11-Jan-1884


The Arguments for and Against Them, at Their Trial in Bath.

Messrs. Spaulding and Heath argued for the defense in the Richmond case, Thursday.

In arguing for the defense, Col. J. W. Spaulding of Richmond, counsel for Hopkins, after stating the law relating to the charge contained in the indictment, and the duties of the jury in consideration of a case of this kind, said that he should claim acquittal of his client at their hands because the government had utterly failed to produce reliable testimony showing guilt of the offense charges The witness, Elisabeth Polley's, is the only one who testified to striking or kicking by Hopkins and she stands a confessed perjurer. She swears she was the wife of the Indian; was married to him ten years ago at Bangor; and then she had to admit she was the widow of a third husband (Polleys) and drew a pension as his widow, and has on every quarter made oath that she still remained his widow in order to draw her pension.

The heel marks are really the only evidence bearing against Hopkins, and it is remarkable, if the marks were as delivered and well defined as witnesses claimed, that one physician should place the heel in one locality and the other in an entirely different place. All the government witnesses who saw the Indian fall say, he fell upon his face and never moved. Hence it would be utterly impossible to kick him so as to cause the marks upon his face. Hopkins says he did no striking nor kicking, nor ravishing and that he was outside with Lint at the time.

Counsel spoke two hours contending that the prisoner's are no more interested in the result of the trial than are the government witnesses, Plummer, Lint, and Widow Polleys.

H. M. Heath, counsel for Turner, argued it was apparent that the State has failed to connect Turner with the killing. No witness claimed he struck any blow or did any killing. Rape was clearly disproved for the Indian woman's consent to the act fully and clearly appeared. The case as presented make it just as probable that the killing was done by other inmates of the house, and charge made against Turner and Hopkins by conspiracy against the parties really guilty. Witnesses to the alleged killing have contradicted each other on every point. When on motion of the defense the court ordered the State's witnesses to be excluded from the room and each to be examined in the absence of the others, the other participants in the events of the fatal night clashed on every material point. In substance the argument, some two hours in length, was that the government had utterly failed to prove its case. The alleged rape, even upon the government testimony, was effectually disproved. The character and credibility of the inmates of Plummer's house were severely attacked, and acquittal was asked as to Turner even upon testimony of the State itself.

Attorney General, Henry B. Cleaves began his closing argument about three o'clock. He called attention to the statute upon which the prosecution is based, and defined his understanding of the law applicable to the case. He claimed the prisoners were engaged in an unlawful act, were acting in concert and in pursuance of a common design. They were both principles because there was evidence showing that they operated at the same time for the fulfillment of the same preconcerted end and that they were so situated as to be able to furnish aid to each other. The Attorney General claimed that the evidence was sufficient to show that Turner committed an assault upon the Indian woman; that Hopkins stood by, aiding him, and if violence, as claimed, is proved, then they are attempting to perpetrate a crime punishable by an unlimited term of years; and if murder was committed in accomplishing such a crime it would be under the law murder in the first degree. If the crime referred to was not being attempted, it might be murder in the second degree. Evidence as bearing on the different degrees was then discussed at length, the occurrences that took place in the house, flight of the inmates to escape further violence, and the brutal wounds inflicted upon the deceased, as the government claims, by respondents were dwelt upon. He claimed that the attempt to palliate this crime by showing a free use of intoxicating liquors should recoil upon those who advance such a pernicious doctrine, and instead of being an excuse for the crime should cause the jury to apply the law with greater strictness. otherwise we are offering a premium to criminals to voluntarily get intoxicated to prepare themselves for commission of grave offenses.

The Attorney General continued at some length discussing the various points of the case and urging upon the jury not to encourage crime by their decision. He argued that the prisoners alone had a motive; that they had an opportunity; that they struck Joseph Denny down while he was seeking to prevent an assault upon his family. But Denny was in his own house and was entitled to all the protection under our law that is given to the highest of American citizens, and that a verdict here of not guilty or of manslaughter would bring disgrace upon the administration of justice. Testimony of the respondents was reviewed and criticised. Their admissions that they were guilty that night of many crimes was evidence that must satisfy the jury of the character of the enterprise in which they were engaged. He again urged upon the jury the importance of doing their duty fearlessly; that the testimony if believed required a verdict of guilty and when it should be rendered, even the counsel for the prisoners would feel that lawlessness and crime had been once more rebuked.



The Jury in the Murder Case Still Out


[Special Dispatch to Lewiston Journal.]

BATH, Jan 11th.

The jury in the murder case went out this A.M. and had not reported at 2 o'clock P.M.


Lewiston Evening Journal, 12-Jan-1884


The Richmond Men Get Seven Years Hard Labor at Thomaston.

BATH, Me., Jan. 12th

The jury after being out seven hours rendered a verdict of manslaughter against both respondents, Hopkins and Turner. The verdict gives general satisfaction. The hopes of both prisoners were buoyant for acquittal. Hopkins broke down at the prospect of ten years in prison. On the first ballot the jury stood seven for manslaughter, five for murder in the second degree. There were seven ballots. The idea of rape was discarded.

Judge Libby will probably sentence the prisoners in the morning. One feature of judge Libby's charge was the remark that a man not disposed to be otherwise than peaceable, by intoxication is opposed to this condition. It is making of a criminal out of an innocent man.


BATH, Me., Jan 12th.

Sentence was pronounced upon Hopkins and Turner, the Richmond criminals, by Judge Libby, Saturday morning. Each is sentenced to 7 years hard labor in state prison.

Source: Lewiston Evening Journal
Transcribed by: Canyon Wolf for Ne-Do-Ba

Additional Documents in this Series:
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Lewiston Evening Journal
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Daily Kennebec Journal
Newspaper Coverage of the Murder - Boston Daily Globe
Elizabeth Polis - In Her Own Words