Intimidating a Jury

July 20, 1895


A black man accuses three black women of a murder he committed; the women are arraigned and put on trial.


The case of the colored women alleged to have been concerned in the murder of Mrs. Pollard (white) is indeed pathetic.
A horrible crime has been committed and the punishment therefor is death. Solomon Marable, the murderer has been convicted and upon his testimony, which is conflicting and apparently false, these colored women have been arraigned.
Money was found on the person of Marable and the bloody clothing which he wore when he committed the horrible deed produced, but nothing connects the women with the crime, save his testimony which has had a tendency all along the clear himself at the expense of others.
Mrs. Mary Abernathy, whom he charges with assisting in the crime, when placed upon the witness-stand at Lunenburg, C. H., last Monday disclaimed all responsibility and conclusively proved an alibi. Ex-Judge Perry had been engaged to defend Mrs. Abernathy and drew up the following affidavits:
“To the Honorable County Court of Lunenburg,
“Your petitioner respectfully represents to your Honor that she is indicted for murder in your Honor’s court and, that she does not believe she could get a jury in the county of Lunenburg free from prejudice; that she cannot have an impartial trial in the county of Lunenburg, so great is the popular prejudice against her; that there have been various threats of lynching, and if she were acquitted she would be afraid to leave the court-room alone.”

Everyone in that court-room including the judge himself knew that the above statement was strictly true. Upon the over-ruling of the application by Judge Orgain, ex-Judge Perry retired from the case and the defenseless woman was put upon trial for her life with a howling mob on the outside threatening the jury if it failed to convict her.
This was equally true in the case of Henry Robinson, colored, charged with attempted assault upon a white woman near Berryville, Va. He proved an alibi. The jury deliberated from 9:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., upon a verdict and finally gave him fourteen years in the penitentiary. His counsel were about to file a bill of exceptions alleging that the verdict was contrary to law and evidence, but had to abandon the idea inasmuch as a second trial in the county might result in the lynching of their client. This occurs in the face of the fact that Gov. O’Ferrall is doing all in his power to enforce the law and legislature of Virginia has made the attempt to commit a crime the same as though the act had been accomplished. These are troublous times for colored people and it is indeed a momentous question as to how long this condition of affairs can continue. Lynch-law must go!
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Cord Fox


“Intimidating a Jury,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed March 25, 2019,