The first thing of note is that just as Dr. Taylor’s defense team had hammered Jane and her testimony while she was on the stand, they would continue to do so with the testimony of Sarah and Mat Blevins. As we have previously stated, when reading the transcript, it is obvious that the prosecutor was ill-prepared in presenting his case. But from the way in which the defense destroyed both Jane and her testimony and continue to do so with their first two witnesses, they were loaded for bear. From everything we have discovered Dr. Taylor and his defense team knew that there was no case against him except for Jane’s Testimony.
The second thing of note is that the pattern we discovered in the prosecution phase of the transcript suggests that it may have been edited before it was sent to the appellate court, continuing with the defense witnesses. And while the testimony of Sarah does not readily show this pattern, the testimony of her husband Mat readily shows the change in writing style.
However, we have reason to believe that Sarah’s testimony had also been edited. During cross-examination, she was asked two questions about Jane and her horse. The transcript shows that the defense had asked her no questions about Jane’s timeline of events. Yet the only reason for the questions about the horse made by the prosecution would have to do with a response to questions about Jane’s timeline. Yet there is one other glaring discrepancy between Sarah’s recorded testimony and what is recorded in the often-told story.
Sarah Blevins: The Transcript
The defendant introduced Sarah Blevins, who testified as follows:
“I live in Letcher County, Kentucky, about two miles from Jane Mullins; I heard of the killing of Ira Mullins and others, on the same day it occurred; on the next day after the killing I went to Wilson Mullins’ house, where all the dead persons were lying; I heard Jane Mullins say that she did not know who did the killing;”
” I asked her if she had any idea who it was, and she said she did not; she said they had a black something over their faces, and a green strip about as wide as her three fingers around the forehead;”
“on the next Wednesday afterward I had another conversation with her, and she then told me that “some persons” had an idea that it was Taylor and the Fleming boys, because on that day they had enquired at Mrs. Vanover’s where the Fleming boys were and had been told that they were at Jeff Fleming’s; that they had enquired at Fleming’s, and they were not there;
The quotes and the emphasis on some persons have been added by us. This is because, in several versions of the often-told story, Sarah Blevins had testified that James Potter had told Jane that the attackers at the Pound Gap had been Taylor and the Flemings. This almost matches Jane’s own testimony. In the re-direct phase of the testimony of Jane Mullins, 2 peculiar statements are recorded in the transcript.
Of course, the questions asked by the prosecution are unknown, but whatever they were the answers are recorded as “Witness said Bentley, Jarvey Candell and others told her not to tell who it was. The witness heard that Taylor and the Fleming boys were lying around her house trying to kill her; that she got this information from James Potter.”
These statements are peculiar for a few reasons, first, although these statements appear to be answers to 3 different questions, 2 are not separated by the customary semicolon. The second is the addition of Wise County deputy sheriff Candell. According to the timeline set by Sarah Blevins and newspaper reports Jarvey Candell was not present at the inquest which occurred on the 15th.
Although Candell was never called as a witness his primary Job would have been to interview Jane and John Vint Bentley. The newspapers record that this interview occurred on Thursday, May 19th. Bentley WAS called as a witness for the prosecution. He and Robert Mullins had investigated the crime scene together and give testimony about that investigation. We do not know if Mullins had participated in the inquest which occurred the following day. But we know from newspaper reports that Bentley, as a Magistrate of Letcher County did.
Although both testimonies are recorded in the transcript with the style of writing we have identified as a possible sign of editing, neither man testified that they had told Jane NOT to tell anyone who she thought the killers were. In fact, the defense had hammered Jane about her statements of not knowing who the killers were.
In that testimony, she states that she had not said that she did not know who the killers were at the inquest or to Bentley. She went on to deny ever saying that to several people. Then she doubles down on Bentley and the inquest by saying that she did not swear to Bentley that she did not know who they were because he told her that she need not answer that question.
IF and this is a big fat IF, John Vent Bentley or anyone else testifying in the trial had told her not to tell anyone who the killers were, you would have thought that as many times as it comes up in this case SOMEONE from the prosecution or the defense would have questioned them about such a statement.
Additionally, these “I don’t know” statements started on the evening of the 14th. Sarah testifies that on the 15th she had heard Jane tell several people that she did not know who they were. Then she, Sarah, had asked Jane if she knew and Jane had told her and her husband Mat that she did not know.
Sarah goes on to testify that by the 18th Jane had changed her story because James Potter had told her that it had been Dr. Taylor and the Flemings. But on the 19th Bentley and Deputy Sheriff Candell had told Jane not to tell anyone who they were for her safety…?? They were a couple of days late. Candell reports his findings.
And on the 26th, a full seven days later, Candell comes back and escorts Jane to the town of Gladeville or Wise and puts her in protective custody, again for her safety… Something clearly does not add up in Janes’s statements, testimony, or timeline of events.
We now return to Sarah’s Testimony, in which she had just revealed that Jane had learned who the killers were from James Potter;
in this conversation she said she would not know Dr, Taylor’s voice, for she did not much more than know him when she met him; in the winter before this killing, Dr. Taylor passed by where Jane Mullins and myself were sewing and Jane says, ‘there goes that old devil’; I (asked) her who, and she said, ‘Dock Taylor’; she said she wished Dock was in the middle kettle of torment, for she hated him ever since he caught Henderson Mullins; she said she was so scared when the shooting was going on, she would not have known my husband, Mat Blevins if he had been there; she said they seemed to change their voices.”
Cross Examination of Sarah Blevins
ON CROSS-EXAMINATION—Witness said that Dock Taylor passed her and Jane where they were sewing, about 25 feet distant from them; she told me the horse did not throw her when the firing commenced, as she knew of; she told Wesley Swindall in my presence that the horse threw her.
TESTIMONY OF MAT. BLEVINS:
To be honest, there is not much to say about the testimony of Mat Blevins. But this is not because that Mat was a failure as a witness for the defendant. In the transcript Mat’s testimony displays a change in writing style that tells us that his testimony may have been edited. We believe that there may have been a lot of his testimony that was left on the editing room floor. What that was we will probably never know.
But from the last statement recorded here, we can assume that Mat may have been deeply hurt by Jane Mullins. Not physically but emotionally and psychologically, there are a lot of people in the world who do not make friends easily. To these people, friendship is based solely upon trust. They do not tell other people lies because they do not like to be told lies. To them, the worst thing someone can do to them is to tell them a lie. We believe that Mat Blevins was such a man. But Jane had not only broken his trust by lying to him, but she had also lied about him… this is the reason for Mat’s final hurtful statement.
Mat Blevins The transcript
The defendant then introduced Mat. Blevins, who testified that he lives in Letcher County, Ky.; heard of the killing on the same day it occurred; know Jane Mullins; saw her the next day after the killing, and she said she did not see anybody when the firing commenced, for she was scared so she could not see anybody;”
“she said she heard them speaking to her, and she then saw three men behind the rocks; that they had a •black something over their faces, with a green band around the forehead; said they cursed her and told her to go away; she said she did not know any of them; have known Jane a long time; Jane and myself were friends, and she knew it.
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We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains. We must remind everyone that the story names Killing Rock: The Oft Told Tale (s) and Killing Rock: The Untold Story and Killing Rock: the Trial and KillingRock: The Defense are all under Kentucky Tennessee Living copyright.
A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia By Charles A. Johnson Pub. 1938.
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When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.