United States v. John Skiggs alias John Skaggs
One of the few murder cases in our collection, United States v. Skiggs provides an example of the procedures that accompanied a murder trial. On January 27, 1828, John Skiggs (whose last name is also spelled Skaggs, Skigs, and Scags) allegedly murdered Robert A. Logan in Crawford County. This was the same Robert A. Logan who bet on the horse race in Crawford County in 1815see Stone v. Williams. Almost two months later, on March 3, 1828, David E. McKinney, the clerk of the Arkansas Territory Superior Court issued subpoenas for Jacob Truyers, David Ward, James Ward, Jeremiah Cravens, Dennis Chisholm, and John Hart. These men were to appear at the Superior Court in Little Rock at the April Term to testify on behalf of John Skiggs in his impending trial for murder. (Note that Dennis Chisholm, a relative, probably a son, of John Chisholm, was a defendant in a much earlier case, Clary v. Chisholm.)
On March, 22, James Wilson, the sheriff of Crawford County served the subpoenas on David Ward, Jeremiah Cravens, and John Hart in Clark Township [which as nearly as we can determine was not a township of Crawford County at the time]. Wilson was unable to serve James Ward as he was not found in James Wilson's bailiwick. Two days later, Wilson served the subpoena on Jacob Truyers in Clark Township, and he served the subpoena on Dennis Chisholm in Tumlinson Township on March 25.
On April 15, 1828, the Court, via Daniel Ringo, the deputy clerk, issued a writ of habeas corpus to the sheriff of Pulaski County commanding him to bring Joseph Johnson and John Scaggs, who were prisoners in his custody and were confined in the Pulaski County jail, to testify and give evidence to the grand jury in the murder case. On April 18, the grand jury returned a true bill, or indictment, against John Skigs for murder. James Walker's name is on the indictment as the foreman of the grand jury. The language of the indictment is indicative of the formality contained in court pleadings of the day. The grand jurors found that John Skiggs of Crawford County "not having the fear of God before his eyes but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil. . . . with force and arms . . . feloniously wilfully and of his malice aforethought divers times did strike and beat . . . giving to. . . Robert A Logan by . . . so striking and beating of him . . . one mortal bruise of which said mortal bruise he . . . instantly died."
On April 22, William H. Parrot, the prosecuting attorney for the second judicial circuit, moved and the court ordered that the Pulaski County sheriff keep Skaggs in the jail until it was reasonable for him to deliver Skiggs to the Crawford county sheriff on the first day of the May term to answer the indictment. Also on that day, Lorenzo Clark, David Ward, Jesse Cravens and William Wharton posted bond to ensure that they would attend the Crawford County Circuit Court to give evidence to the grand jury in the indictment of Skiggs for murder. On May 19, John C. Sumner, the coroner of Crawford County, acknowledged that he had gotten custody of from Sam M. Rutherford, the sheriff of Pulaski County.
William H. Parrot moved the court that the prosecution be discontinued on October 14. The case was apparently dropped and there is no further mention of John Skiggs in the record book.
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