RV vs Hughes

The Golden Era – November 3, 1899


The Verdict in the Tete Jaune Cache Murder Trail – The Jury Deliberated About One Hour and Returned in Favor of the Prisoner’s Acquittal.


The first sitting of the Supreme Court was opened in the Columbia Hall. Golden on Tuesday morning before His Honor Mr. Justice Drake. The following were the Grand Jury: Messrs. W.G. Mitchell-Innes (foreman), E. Plowright, W. McNeish, S.G. Robbins, H. Dickson, J. Henderson, S. High, G.B. McDermot, T. Robson, C.H. Parson, J. Dolmage, Thomas McNaught and J.C. Greene.

His Honor then charged the Grand Jury, saying that this was the first session of the Supreme Court that had been held in Golden, and he hoped that before another session it would not be necessary to trouble Mr. McNeish for the use of his hall and that the courthouse would be finished for occupation. His Honor pointed out, with reference to the indictment that would be laid before them by the Crown, that it was their duty to ascertain from the witnesses whether there was such a case as would necessitate further inquiry before a Petit Jury. His Honor then directed the Jury as to the manner in which they should proceed. He gave this legal definition of the charge of murder. He reviewed the fats brought out at the preliminary hearing, and presumed that on the facts they would have no difficulty in finding a true bill. If there were any matters of public importance to which the Grand Jury wished to draw attention it was their privilege to do so, when the representations made would doubtless receive due consideration.

The Grand Jury then retired to consider the indictment and returned with a true bill.

The Grand Jury made the following presentment: —-

“The Grand Jury express their satisfaction that His Honor Judge Drake has been called upon to preside for the first time at this Court of Assize held in Golden and regret that His Honor should not be enabled to hold his first Court in the Court House, which is now in course of erection, but hope at the future sittings of the Court those who are called upon to preside will find Court buildings worthy of the Assize and the district.

“The Grand Jury, considering that the district of East Kootenay is about 300 miles in length and includes many towns that are rapidly growing in importance owing to increase of population and the quick development of the mining industry, make the following recommendations for the purpose of increasing the efficiency of the administration of justice: _

“That Small Debts Courts be established for the treatment of small debt cases, and that powers be given to the Stipendiary Magistrate to hold such Courts;

“That police constables without other duties be appointed at the most populous places, notably at Golden. Field and Windermere;

“That a lock-up be erected in the Windermere district, where there are four mining towns growing rapidly into importance within a radius of twelve miles;

“That the present method of Coroners’ Inquests be abrogated and the former method reverted to, as an instance had lately occurred where a body was found and interred without inquiry having been held and without evidence as to identification or cause of death.”

James Hughes was then arraigned on the charge of the murder of Alexander Macaulay of Swift Current in June last and pleaded not guilty by his counsel Thos O’Brien. Deputy Attorney General McLean conducted the prosecution.

The following Jury was empaneled after several jurors had been challenged by both sides: – W. C. Miller (foreman), J. Lamontagne, J. Grady, J Brewster, F. Conway, A.A. Carroll, J. Stirrett, J.G. Ullock, A. Oakly, J. Nelson, W. Avery and J. Shaw.

Mr. McLean explained the circumstances of the case to the Jury, reviewing the evidence that would be offered.

Dr. Taylor was the first witness called and repeated the evidence given at the preliminary hearing, describing the wounds found on the body when he made the post mortem which would be of a fatal character.

Cross-examined by Mr. O’Brien – Found indications of pleurisy. With proper care it is possible Macaulay could have lived. A cut in the abdomen by a knife in the hands of an unprofessional man might cause death by blood poisoning. There would be great danger of the man dying from blood-poisoning.

Daniel Noyes, of Edmonton, was the next witness. Prosecution here produced a copy of THE GOLDEN ERA containing the map recently published of the Tete Jaune district and by means of it had the witness explain to the Jury the route he travelled from Edmonton to Tete Jaune Cache. The evidence of this witness was a repetition of that given at the preliminary trial. Witness was cross-examined.

J.W. Evans also gave similar evidence to that already published.

J. Price was the next witness and swore that accused had admitted to him that he was responsible for Macaulay’s condition. Counsel for defense objected to the evidence on the ground that witness was a police officer, and before it was received the Crown should prove it was given voluntarily. Mr. McLean said he was not, but was merely in the same position as any other witness of the Crown. His Honor disallowed the objection. Mr. O’Brien asked that a case be served on this point. Witness then resumed his evidence and was severely cross-examined by Mr. O’Brien.

Mrs. Macaulay was called, Venerable Archdeacon McKay acting interpreter. In addition to the evidence formerly given Mrs. Macaulay referred to a quarrel between her husband and the prisoner over the straying of the horses. They did not speak to one another for several days, but afterwards became friendly and went trapping together. After catching two more lots of beaver her husband told her to get the skins ready as soon as possible, so that they could return to Henry House the prisoner to be left at Swift Current. The day before they were to leave they had a quarrel over a pack saddle. Macaulay understood the prisoner had made him a present of the saddle and prisoner denied that Macaulay had previously said he intended giving prisoner two beaver skins for it.  Prisoner said to her husband, “Alec, I’ll kill you,” Macaulay replied, “Well, Jim, kill me at once.” Before they were packing up prisoner asked witness for his beaver skins. Witness said she knew nothing about them. When they were packing up prisoner went to her husband and asked him for the two beaver skins, Macaulay replied, “What beaver skins? Did you kill them?” The account of the shooting was similar to that already given. Witness recognized the hat produced as that her husband wore, and the hole in the hat was where the bullet passed through it. Witness was shown the blood stained shirt which her husband wore at the time of the shooting and broke down for a time on seeing it. Witness was Witness was cross examined at some length by Mr. O’Brien and stated her husband had one beaver trap and two small traps. Did not see any striking when the quarrel took place. The prisoner helped her after the first two days and got the wood and water for her. The day they quarreled her husband returned the pack saddle to the prisoner.

This closed the case for the Crown.

Mr. O’Brien, in opening the case for the Defence, explained his evidence and hoped to show a case of self-defence and justifiable homicide.

Prisoner was then called and said: – I went to Athabasca last winter, and previous to that was at Arkansas City. I have a wife and five children, the youngest being three years old. Met Alex. Macaulay at Buffalo Prairie, a day’s drive north of Henry House, early last winter. Just before going to the Cache I met him at Mr. Swift’s and arranged with him to go in partners trapping. I was to furnish one and he two parts of the supplies for his wife and children, and we would divide. I did not aim to try Macaulay’s temper, because I was afraid of him on account of his pentions to him wife, who he used to whip. We caught 14 beaver and I trusted to him to take them from the taps. I was entitled to seven of the skins. Had trouble with Macaulay at Swift Current the day before the shooting. It was about a pack saddle. He wanted to take the straps from my saddle and put them on his. I objected to him spoiling my saddle and he said he thought I gave it to him. He cursed me and I went out when he chased me with a knife. Mrs. Macaulay held him back. He said he would kill me before he left. I loaded my gun and laid in in my tent and stayed awake all night watching him.  Next morning, I was fixing a copper can when I heard a shot and jumped for my gun. Macaulay was coming towards me and I shouted at him to halt. He had his knife, and I thought he had his gun. He didn’t halt, and he fell on his knees in willow brushes and I pulled trigger. I could not tell he was wounded till I got out of the bushes. I rushed to get his gun and found it where the teepee had been. Saw him beckoning and went over, when he shook hands with me and wanted me to help him. Helped him to the teepee and fixed the blankets. Got water to wash the wounds and helped take care of him. Mrs. Macaulay’s statement about deceased saddling a horse when I fired the shot is not true. Did not tell Price Macaulay was going to steal my provisions. If I had not killed Macaulay, he would have killed me. Macaulay had a bad disposition. I could not have escaped from him. Stayed with Macaulay to attend to him every night except one, when he stuck his wife, till Noyes came.

Cross-examined by Mr. McLean – Macaulay was running. Saw something in his had when I fired. Could not tell whether it was a knife or a gun. It was daylight and he was from 25 to 30 feet away. He had not the gun in his hand. Don’t know who discharged the shot I heard. The gun from which I fired was no account. I was going there to the gold mine. This is the first time I told this story, though I have been twice before the Court.

Re-examined by Mr. O’Brien – My gun is a magazine gun but will hold only one cartridge. Macaulay examined my gun last winter and said it was no good.

Allan Hamilton was called to give evidence as to the character of Macaulay but Mr. McLean severely taxed the witness as to his own reputation.

F. Holliday was the last witness and said he had heard by hearsay that Macaulay had a bad reputation. In answer to Mr. McLean, witness said he personally knew nothing of Macaulay.

Dr. Taylor, on being called upon by Mr. O’Brien, said he did not think Macaulay could speak in view of the injury done to the tongue and lower jaw, but in reply to Mr. McLean admitted that he might use general words.

The Court then adjourned till 10 am Wednesday, the Jury being locked up meantime.

Mr. O’Brien, Counsel for the prisoner, commenced his address to the Jury at 10 o’clock Wednesday morning and closed about noon. Space does not permit of it being given at length but from start to finish he held the attention of Judge and Jury and made one of the most telling speeches that has ever been delivered in North East Kootenay. He dwelt at length upon the evidence adduced on behalf of the Crown and the prisoner, and asked that the verdict be given not in accordance with the sworn evidence, but only such as was believed by the Jury, and that in regard to the value of testimony the probabilities as well as what is what is sworn to should be considered. From the evidence adduced he argued no motive whatsoever had been shown by the Crown for the committal of one of the most serious crimes that could be charged to any man. Dwelling upon his admission by the prosecution that Macaulay beckoned the prisoner to approach immediately after the shooting took place and then shook him by the hand, he contended, would not have been the act of a missionary; nor yet would I be an act that a cold-blooded murderer would likely pursue after shooting his victim. This act in itself was surely very strong evidence for the defense in support of their plea of justification. He then at great length explained clearly and eloquently the position of the two men – the deceased and the prisoner – on the day of the shooting. The prisoner, the owner of a complete outfit, en route to the Yukon gold fields, whilst the deceased had practically nothing, and contended that of the two men the deceased was the only one who would have benefited by the committal of a crime of so serious a character.

He then marshalled the evidence for and against and in unmistakable language contended that the only person who claimed to be an eye witness (Mrs. Macaulay) most surely be mistaken, as the course which the bullet was proven to have taken from the doctor’s testimony bore out the prisoner’s story absolutely. If Mrs. Macaulay was mistaken on this important point he considered the duty of the Jury was to reject her testimony altogether.

Referring to the evidence of Noyes and Price, he asked the Jury to reject it in its entirety, so far as it might be evidence against the prisoner, claiming that men who would swear as they had that Macaulay could speak after this shooting took place were, to say the least, not credible witnesses. He claimed no man could ever utter a word whose tongue and lower jaw were so badly injured, as was shown by the doctor’s evidence.

Mr. O’Brien then closed his address in a most forcible and touching manner, and had the Jury then retired. It is safe to predict a verdict of not guilty would have been delivered without much deliberation,

Mr. H. A. McLean, Deputy Attorney General for the Province, followed and complimented Counsel for the Defence on his eloquent and able appeal on behalf of the prisoner. He felt satisfied no Counsel could have done more. He contended the Prosecution had proven the charge and continued his address for upwards of an hour.

His Lordship charged the Jury in a strong and forcible manner, and from his tenor desire the Jury to return a verdict of guilty.

The Jury retired and after about an hour’s deliberation returned a verdict of not guilty. The prisoner was then discharged and Mr. O’Brien was cheered by the crowd on the successful manner in which he chad conducted the case for the Defence.