Tweet Follow @PlanetSlade

Pearl Bryan: chapter six continued

<<<Previous Chapter  –   Page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5   –   Next Chapter>>>
Pearl Bryan
Secret London
Murder Ballads

Washington, like Crawford before him, filed papers asking for his client to be given a fresh trial, but Helm turned his request down too. A week later, he set Walling's execution date for August 7. The legal battle wasn't over yet, though, and both Crawford and Washington took their protests to the next level up by involving Kentucky's Court of Appeals. This began a long process of each execution date being postponed to await the outcome of the next appeal, then rescheduled, then postponed again.
Christmas came and went, dragging the process into 1897, and still there was no resolution in sight. There was some light relief just after New Year, when a convicted killer called Robert Laughlin, another inmate at Covington jail, told the Bourbon County News that he planned to return in spirit form after his own execution to watch Jackson and Walling hang. Laughlin was hanged on January 9, and attention turned back to Jackson and Walling's appeals.
Kentucky seemed in no rush to get this issue settled, perhaps because the authorities there wanted to continue pressuring Jackson and Walling to help them find Pearl's head so whatever was left of it could be given a decent burial. By holding out the hope that one or both death sentences could still be commuted to life imprisonment, they thought Jackson or Walling might be induced to tell all they knew at last. But both men insisted they had nothing to add to the accounts they'd already given in court. "Have it your way," Kentucky's Governor William Bradley replied, marking up another couple of fresh execution dates on his calendar.

Execution dates were postponed to await every appeal, rescheduled, then postponed again

Jackson and Walling persisted with their appeals anyway. "Up and down went their hopes and spirits as the lawyers carried their pleas first to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and then to Governor Bradley," Doran writes. "Date after date was set for their execution, and then each date was cancelled. Eventually the last hope, appeal to Governor Bradley for clemency, was denied, and Scott Jackson and Alonzo Walling were sentenced to be hanged simultaneously on March 20, 1897." (42)
With nothing more to lose, Jackson issued a statement to the New York Times, accusing the police of outright perjury, which the paper published in its February 28 issue. "The State's case was a manufactured one, with no real evidence whatsoever," Jackson asserts. "Facts which should have been a part of the evidence were suppressed because they did not agree with the perjured statements of policemen." Jackson declined to say just what those perjured statements had been, or to set out any of the rival evidence he claimed had been suppressed at the trial, so no-one took his statement very seriously. (43)
The same day's NYT revealed that Walling had given what the paper called "a full confession" to Reverend Lee, the prison chaplain, and asked him to take it to the Bryan family. When they'd read the confession, Walling said, Lee should ask them again to petition Governor Bradley to commute his sentence. The suggestion is clearly that this confession contained something very convincing which helped to clear Walling from the murder charge.
Unfortunately, Lee's mission is the one I mentioned earlier, which Pearl's brother decided to cut short. "When [Rev. Lee] was half way to the Bryan homestead, he was met by Fred Bryan, who very plainly told him he would have to discontinue his mission, as the Bryan family would not consider the confession," the NYT reports. "Lee gave up his mission and returned to Cincinnati." The wording there suggests Fred Bryan didn't even bother to read the confession, and I've never seen an account of its contents.

There was some trouble at Covington Jail at the beginning of March - the details of which I don't know - so Jackson and Walling had to be moved 11 miles away to Alexandria Jail instead.
A CE reporter was there to watch on March 3, as Covington's prison barber gave them a shave before the trip. Neither man had yet realised that the road they'd take that morning would lead them directly past John Lock's orchard, and the spot on Alexandria Pike where Pearl had met her end. They were in good spirits.
"Walling's face was more than usually youthful and innocent in appearance," the CE's man wrote next day. "As he smilingly talked with the guards, it was hard to believe he was destined to go to death upon the gallows almost within a fortnight.
"Jackson had been shaved, and was preparing for his departure. With his keen glance and smooth-shaven face, his lithe, quick movements, and his general air of calm independence, he looked like an athlete. This effect was heightened by the fact that he wore a red sweater and small corduroy cap, the latter having been loaned to him by Guard Murray. He made his adieux noisily, and with much laughter. Turnkey Murray's little Yorkshire terrier, which had made its home in Walling's cell, came in for an affectionate and romping good-bye." (44)
Sheriff Plummer and his team loaded the two prisoners into a carriage at about 8:30 that morning, and off they went. As usual, there was a busy throng of people outside the prison, who'd gathered there hoping to glimpse the notorious killers for themselves, and the carriage had to force its way through to reach the open road. "As they passed the spot where Pearl Bryan had been murdered, it was called to their attention," Doran writes. "Both glanced nervously toward the lonely spot where they were believed to have carried out the brutal crime."
That night after supper, Jackson broke off from pacing nervously up and down in his Alexandria cell, beckoned the CE's reporter over and announced he had something to say. Jackson's attorney, Leonard Crawford, had tried without success to discredit the coachman George Jackon's testimony in court, and now Scott Jackson repeated the same accusations for himself.
"Sheriff Plummer knows, and Nelson knows and Judge Helm knows and Deitsch knows that the story of George Jackson was an infamous fabrication," he told the scribbling reporter. "We drove over a part of the ground today that George Jackson says he drove over. It is the first time I ever saw it in my life. I was astonished when the State threw the story of George Jackson at Mr Crawford and myself, but after seeing a portion of the route which he claims to have covered, I am simply astounded to think that his story was accepted by the jury so fast."
Finishing his statement, Jackson called Walling over to endorse it, and he obliged by vigorously nodding his head. Then the two men returned to their pacing, Jackson still agitated but Walling apparently calm.