Mail Tribune 100, March 5, 1921
The following news items were drawn from the archives of the Mail Tribune 100 years ago.
March 5, 1921
LARK EVANS IS ACQUITTED ON HOLD UP CH’GE
A jury in the circuit court Friday afternoon acquitted Lark Evans, charged with assault and robbery upon W. G. White on Saturday, September 13, 1919, in two ballots, after fifteen minutes deliberation.
The defendant, convicted at the first trial, and sentenced to from one to 15 years in the state prison, smiled when the court read the verdict, but his mother, when the pent up emotions of months of strain and worry were over, screamed in joy at the words that freed her boy, and was only quieted by women spectators and Lark Evans, who rushed to her side. The court released Evans from all further detention, and abolished his bonds. W. G. Whits, the complaining witness, District Attorney Rawles Moors, and Attorney Gus Newbury, chief counsel for the defense were not in court when the verdict was read.
According to one of the jurors, two ballots, the first one standing ten to two for acquittal, and the next one, taken immediately afterwards was unanimous for acquittal.
Hard Fought Case
The case attracted more than usual attention, and was hard fought from start to finish. After conviction, through his attorney, Gus Newbury, an appeal was taken to the supreme court, upon the grounds of new evidence and a new trial granted. Convinced of the innocence of his client, Attorney Newbury secured new evidence, and it was this which resulted in the acquittal of Evans, who from the day of his arrest stoutly maintained his innocence.
The star witness for the defense was Sam Sandry, driver of the Blue Ledge auto, who testified that on September 13, 1919, the day of the crime, Evans was employed at the Hines and Snider garage in this city, had placed a vacuum tank on his car, and was corroborated by the testimony of Charles P. Talent, and W. R. Coleman, and the records of Hines and Snider garage and the A. W. Walker Auto company. All efforts on the state to shake this testimony on cross examination were futile. Another strong witness was Gene Thomas, a 16-year-old boy, who testified positively that he had seen Evans and his wife at their home in this city at practically the same time that the complaining witness testified he was staging the hold up.
The chief witness for the state was W. G. White, who was robbed and “hog-tied” in the hills back of Jacksonville, and positively identified Evans as the man who had committed the crime. Conflicting identifications of Fords as his own, coupled with his positive identification of Evans were points at variance in his testimony. A woman known as Evan’s wife, who testified at the first trial, but not at this one, was particularly strong in White’s mind.
— Alissa Corman;firstname.lastname@example.org