Robert Bruce

The Pound Gap Massacre 3

The Commonwealth Attorney sought a new indictment based upon a statement written by him, and signed by Jane Mullins

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The Pound Gap Massacre, Part 3.

The Commonwealth Attorney, Robert Bruce, immediately sought a new indictment based solely upon a statement written by him, and signed by Jane Mullins as “Eye Witness”. Unprepared for the new indictment, Doctor Taylor’s defense moved that the trial be moved to the circuit court, and a trial date was set for September 5th.

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The contents of the original indictment is unknown, but from the recorded testimony of the trial, Jane is hammered on statements she had made to the investigators, neighbors, and the Grand Jury as to the identity of the attackers, as well as

statements that she had made to friends and family concerning her horse. Eventually Jane broke under this harsh questioning, and admitted that she had told what had suited her at the time, and admitted that she had heard that Doctor Taylor and the Fleming’s were the perpetrators, from James Potter. One of the suspects that had been named in the investigation, a man who would never be indicted, charged, or subpoenaed to court to testify as to what he knew.

Robert Bruce
Robert P. Bruce
Commonwealth Attorney

The testimony of Jane Mullins being discredited, the decision of the Jury was based solely upon an examination of Doctor Taylor’s rifle.

After receiving the rifle from the court, one of the Jurors noted that Doctor Taylor’s rifle (a Winchester 1876 Centennial 45 75, which was a very rare gun),  Was a center fire model, and the shell casings found at the crime scene were in-fact from a rim fire weapon. Two of the Jurors took it upon themselves to take the rifle apart, and did an examination of the firing mechanism. They concluded that Doctor Taylor had somehow modified the rifle, to appear to be a center fire model. There are three affidavits on file in the court record about this occurrence. One from the two jurors who had taken the rifle apart, one from the sheriff, stating that the jurors could not get a part back into the rifle. And a third from one of the deputies, who was also the local gun smith, stating that he had examined the rifle before it was given to the jury, and found it to be in good working order, and that when it was returned, the firing mechanism was in the rifle in a way that he had never seen before.

Winchester 1876 Centennial

The trial lasted 4 days, and after a long deliberation, during which the examination of the rifle took place, the jury would find him guilty of murder, in the first Degree on Saturday September 10th. At the time, sentencing was attached to the charge by law, and Judge Williams set the execution date for December 10th 1892. Doc Taylor was then transferred to the Lynchburg Va Jail to await appeal. His lawyers appealed his verdict inciting 12 particulars of the case, Of which only one is known, Because it was discussed in an interview with Doc Taylor by a newspaper reporter, while waiting for the Grand Jury Hearing. Doctor Taylor’s rifle was examined without the defense being present during the examination, Which by law should have automatically triggered a mistrial. What the rest of the particulars were we do not know, as the record of the appeal has disappeared. At the time, it was customary that the presiding Judge would write the brief for the appellate court. What was in this brief, is also unknown, as it has disappeared as well. However the appellate court agreed to hear the case on July 6th 1893. And after a brief hearing, the appeal was denied based upon ‘lack of evidence’. Whereupon Doctor Taylor was remanded back to the Wise Va court on September 8th, and re-sentenced on September 9th 1893.

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