Dukes remained sitting there, no one thinking it worth while to congratulate him. The crowd lingered in the room, as if dumbfounded, and left only when the lights were blown out. It is believed Dukes remained in the protection of Sheriff Hoover over night, but one report is that he left for German township late after the angry crowd had ceased to parade the streets carrying Dukes effigies and denouncing the jury.
The jury seemed to be aware of the odium which they had heaped upon themselves and the county, for they skulked out and disappeared. It was almost impossible to hear tell of them. Two of them got up in the vicinity of the McClelland house, where they found the crowd burning Dukes in effigy and singing: "We'll hang Lyman Dukes to a sour apple tree." "Dukes will go down to hades and the jury will meet him on the way." This frightened the two jurors and they disappeared. Where the twelve got to is a mystery, for they were sought dilligently by the reporters.
It is learned that on the first ballot ten stood for acquittal and two for manslaughter, and that they discarded Dukes' letters to Nutt but not Nutt's to Dukes. On Thursday we learned that two of the jurors staid at Hall's boarding house, Peter street, all night; that they slept with their clothes on and in the morning they tried to get some one to go up to the court house and draw their pay. No set of men were ever so anxious to get out of a town which they had so disgraced. After all drawing their pay on Thursday morning they hastened to depart, being hooted at and some of them leaving by the back way streets. They did not relish seeing the effigies of themselves and Dukes adorning various telegraph poles.
While in this connection we are compelled to speak of some things that are too disgraceful to pass unnoticed. From facts which it is not now necessary to publish, it has been known that within certain quiet circles everything possible has been going on since the murder to have the jury packed in the interest of Dukes. Many of his personal and political friends were put into the jury wheel and of course some of them came out at the March term. When the jury was empaneled last Saturday the defense challenged off every Republican on it. If the challenge was for cause and was overruled, it was at once made peremptory. True, Republicans generally admitted they had formed and opinion in the matter, but many had not and were challenged solely for their politics.
Intelligent men of both parties were challenged off, while a man who had no opinion and was capable of forming none, save that of partisan prejudice, was at a premium. The result was that ater the jury was completed and court had adjourned, Thomas B. Searight, clerk of the court and an announced candidate for judge (God save the mark!) exhibited a list of the jurors and drew attention to the fact that Dukes was to be tried by a jury solidly Democratic. Shameful boasts were even made by some that we "have the court and the jury and intend to use them." This is too terrible for comment.
(ed. A petition was soon circulated over the signatures of Col. John Collins, Dukes' law office partner, and 27 other attorneys of the Fayette County bar to have Dukes disbarred. The appropriate order was issued by Judge Alpheus E. Wilson. Only one lawyer, William Parshall, Esq., spoke in opposition. Among prominent surnames known to me when I lived in the area were Dawson, Hagan, Hopwood, Schnatterly, Hutchinson, and Detwiler.)
(ed. An organized indignation meeting was held Thursday evening after the trial to "give expression to the deep indignation which Fayette county felt over the legal farce that resulted in the acquittal of Dukes and turning loose the murderer of as noble a citizen and as loving a father as ever lived among us." The evening trains brought in prominent citizens from all parts of the county. "As Rutter's band marched playing into the hall, the rush was tremendous." The prominent people who attended are too numerous to list. Likewise the remarks of all who spoke eulogizing Nutt and demonizing Dukes. Delegations attended from Uniontown, Connellsville, Dunbar, Wilkesbarre, Confluence, Ursina, Bellevernon. The meeting formally organized and passed many resolutions relative to the case.)
Rev. Mr. Kerr read the resolutions and pending their adoption he said that words would fail to express the intensity of his feeling over the outrageous act of twelve men wo had pretended to do their sworn duty. Well may parents tremble for their daughters when twelve men can be found who are so base, so lost to all sense of manhood, decency and honor as to render, directly contrary to all the evidence, the verdict which acquitted Lyman Dukes of the murder of Capt. Nutt and of the responsibility for the terrible blot which he had attempted to put upon the fair name of his dear family. May the names of these jurors go down to posterity as the black list of Fayette county, to be remembered only with feelings of shame and inexpressible disgust; to be remembered throughout the state as those who had committed the monumental act of infamy.
(ed. A couple of paragraphs of Rev. Kerr's remarks are omitted here.)
(ed. At this point a numbr of statements and denials appear in the newspaper account. These came from Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Hagan, Mr. Frey and Mr. Bogardus, all of whom vehemently denied the situations spoken of in Mr. Dukes' two letters to Mr. Nutt. They almost unanimously describe Lizzie Nutt as "a modest, well-behaved lady" or words to that effect and all deny having had any relations with her.
We give below the names of the twelve "peers" who have thus outraged civilization and brought upon themselves and their county a stigma that will ever abide and never lift. These men are all married and some of them have grown up daughters. We shall send a copy of the STANDARD to each of these twelve, and dedicate it to them, their daughters, and their daughters' daughters forever.
(ed. A repeat of Judge Wilson's remarks is omitted here.)
This strange case looks even stranger as we proceed into the next century. The one glaring hole in the case seems to be that they took no testimony from one key witness, Lizzie Nutt herself. We would, of course, like to know: Was she pregnant? Did she have a baby? Did she have an abortion? Did she sleep with any of the men mentioned? Gentlemen, including prosecutors and defense attorneys, apparently did not ask such questions a mere 116 years ago. We are offered no evidence, medical or otherwise, except the vigorous denials of the self-interested parties mentioned in the case, as to whether or not she ever was pregnant.
On June 13 of that same year, Mr. Dukes, still in town, and having won a fight to retain his seat in the legislature, took a walk to the post office at Main and Pittsburgh to get his mail. Lizzie's 19-year-old brother came up behind Dukes and shot him twice in the back, then three more times as the wounded man ran up the street where he dropped dead at the post office door. James Nutt was apprehended, tried in Pittsburgh, and found "not guilty on account of insanity at the time the act was committed."
Copyright © 2006 Arthur Brenton Wiggins