To the Editors of the Virginia Republican.
Charlestown, July 21, 1830.
DEAR SIR:– The trial of Ebenezer Cox, charged with the murder of Col. Thomas B. Dunn, of Harper’s Ferry, came on yesterday, before Judge Parker. Although the prisoner had made a confession some months ago, he availed himself on this occasion, of his legal privileges, and plead not guilty. John E. Page, Esq.; and the prisoner when asked if he had counsel, turned to John R. Cooke, and named him as his advocate. Mr. Cooke remarked that he was not aware that the prisoner considered him as his counsel; but as he had named him as such he should deem it his duty to act. The venire was then called, when much difficulty occured in procuring a jury. Of the sixty one venire brought forward, (including bystanders,) 46 were excused, having formed and expressed decided opinions, and 2 were peremptorily chalenged and refused by the prisoner. About half past 6 o’clock a jury was obtained, and impannelled. The evidence was then entered into, which appeared conclusive, and the previous voluntary confession of the prisoner, was detailed by the magistrate who received it, and by a person present.
The prosecutor very briefly explained the law in the case and it was submitted to the jury without argument. The jury retired to their room for a period not exceeding 20 minutes, when they returned with a verdict of murder in the first degree.
When the jury came in, and the prisoner was directed to stand up to hear the verdict, he arose and very deliberately took out a quid of tobacco, which he began to chew with some vehemence, he then listened to the verdict without any change of countenance, and with less concern than many would have exhibited if a judgement for 820 had been pronounced against them. Not the slightest emotion was betrayed by him; and if his heart gave a single palpation in consequence of the certainty of his doom, he took care to keep the knowledge of it to himself. I have never seen a man of more firmness,– or perhaps it ought to be appropriately styled insensibility. When the witness described the victim of this youth’s unholy resentment weltering in his blood, and casting his eye imploringly towards those who opened the office door, still the culprit’s face remained in its wonted composure, and its rather mild expression. A stranger, casting his eye over the crowd, would be at a loss to recognize, by any outward sign, among the group in front of the bar, the actor in so bloody a tragedy Little would he suspect a young man, of twenty-two years, to be the demon who had carried wo and desolation into so many hearts.
The judge will probably pronounce his sentence of the law on Saturday next, when it is likely the same hardihood and indifference will be exhibited by the convict, which he has invariably displayed.
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