ED. JOHNSON HAD SERVED FOR MURDER OF STEP SON SINCE 1888–SEEMS GRAVE DOUBT OF GUILT OF FRANK DAVIS–MANY PARDONS REFUSED.
The governor paroled an old man who had worn himself out in the convict service of the state, pardoned another who is very likely not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted, and refused to take action in ten other cases where clemency was asked, believing that neither of them made sufficient showing for his interference. And it may be said in passing that the ratio of refusals in the total of twelve is much smaller than the usual, it being quite frequently the case that big bunches of applications pass over the desks of the members of the pardoning board and then to the governor, without any sort of favorable action.
Of the two cases the first was that of Edward Johnson of Autauga county, who was given a life sentence in 1888 for the murder of his step son, who, the evidence shows, was trying to inflict personal injury on the wife of the man indicted and the mother of the disobedient son. It is noted by the governor that the man is old, that he has served the state 18 years and that his record as a convict is clear, he having been what is termed a “good man.” Several citizens of the county insist upon clemency and the governor has yielded to the good showing made. He says:
“The trial judge and solicitor have paid the death of nature and are no longer here to speak for or against any action in the case. It is doubtful if, being present, they would resist clemency for the old man after 18 years of work for the state. The board of pardons recommends clemency and it is ordered that on account of his long and faithful service he be paroled on condition of his future good conduct.”
Was He Guilty?
The second case to be given favorable action was that of Frank Davis, a young negro of Autauga county, of whom the governor says:
“The trial judge is dead and the trial solicitor informs the board of pardons that there was no evidence to connect Frank with the killing. A very prominent officer of the court asks for clemency, and says that he must have been convicted on general principles. He seems to have gotten into bad company, not of itself a crime in this state, and it has cost him several years of hard labor in stripes. I can not repair the injury, if any, which has been done, I can turn him out which I will order done and at once and I can express the hope that the comfort and peace of the after years of his life may in some measure repay him for the undeserved, if undeserved, punishment. A pardon is ordered.”
Davis was convicted of murder in the second degree in 1902 and given twelve years on a charge of being a party to the murder of W. H. Dorsey at Opp. His brother, who seems to have been the real culprit, was given fifteen years. It has developed that the boy did not have anything to do with the killing and having come up as the fatal shots were fired, ran in fright of them, not knowing who fired them.
The following composes a list of the applications for clemency refused yesterday, being, as already noted, less in proportion that is usually refused, the quoted part being that of the governor on the papers:
P. W. Harbour, DeKalb county, manslaughter, 6 years; “petition refused.”
Charles Wright, Chilton, burglary, 5 years. “No excuse for clemency offered.
Wiley Callen, Chilton, robbery, 20 years. “This petition is refused.”
John Kilgore, Fayette, murder, 10 years. “Refused.”
Ed Jarrett, Limestone, manslaughter, 3 years. “I agree with the board of pardons that no good reason is furnished for clemency.”
William T. Lucas, Chilton, complicity in murder, 18 years. “Petition is refused.”
Obey Lovett, Houston, murder, life. “Refused.”
John Cheatham, Escambia, assault with intent to murder, 5 years. “Petition refused.”
John Lowe Blount, murder in the second degree, 10 years. “Refused.”