The New Kent Murder

October 10, 1868


The ongoings of the New Kent Murder trial which has many racial themes to it.


The New Kent Murder - Indictment of the Prisoners by the Grand Jury. They are Sent on for Trial by the Circuit Court. - The suspected perpetrators of that most horrible murder in New Kent were taken before an examining court held in that county on Thursday, October 1st, by. Justices Taliferro and Vaiden. The first witness examined was Philip Palmer (colored), who testified that the prisoners came to his house about two hours before sunset on the evening of the murder, having in their possession two muskets. The one attached to the body found in the river was identified as belonging to Kennedy. The prisoners remained fifteen minutes at his house, anu left. On the following morning witness went to the house of the prisoners, who lived together, and found them with only their underclothes on, their pants hanging before the fire very wet and muddy. Prisoners seemed much excited, and remarked that they had been up all night. The next witness called was Philip Evans (colored), who testified that Kennedy had in his possession on the Thursday preceding the murder the musket attached to Baker when he was taken from the river. John Robinson (colored) testified that he found in the woods in rearof the prisoner's residence two shirts and one pair of drawers. He thinks that he identifies them as belonging to Baker, but is not positive. One of the shirts seemed to have been tied up and to have had flour in it. [It will be remembered that a quantity of Hour was found on the spot where the murder was committed when a view of the premises was made by detectives Tyler and O'Dwyer during the week subsequent to the murder. - Rep.] R . G. Smith stated that on the morning after the murder he went to the farm of Mrs. Stewart, where the deed was committed, and while there he picked up an iron ramrod belonging to a musket. This ramrod was recognized as belonging to the musket found in Gardiner's possession when the arrest was made by the detectives. Jordan Morris and other witnesses (all colored) testified that they had more than once heard Kennedy threaten the life of Baker. A short time before the murder was committed Kennedy had been heard by Morris to say that he intended very soon to have his revenge, and leave the county forever. This threat was supposed to allude to Baker, as it was known that they had had several difficulties ; and it was also stated that recently Baker had avoided him on all occasions. In addition to the above, the testimony of the detectives, the substance of which we have already stated, and which it is unnecessary now to repeat, was given in ; after which the Justices committed the prisoner for indictment by the grand jury, which met on last Thursday. This body, after hearing the evidence, returned a true bill against the prisoners for the double crime of murder and arson. The case was immediatety called up in the County Court, and a motion by their counsel, the Messrs. Ltfcy, was made on account of absent witnesses for a continuance until tho next term of the court ; which motion the court overruled. The prisoners, through their counsel, then elected to be tried before the Circuit Court (Judge Christian), which meets on the 10th day of November next.
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Jacob Markman




“The New Kent Murder,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed December 15, 2019,