Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia
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The Kingsport Times
KINGSPORT,TENNESSEE,.TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 1928
Pick Five Jurors for Barnett Trial in
ALL OF TOMORROW MAY BE TAKEN
Court Adjourns Until 10 a. m. Wednesday
For Barnett Trial—Unusual Interest Shown in the Case
By THOS. C. HARRIS
(Times Staff Reporter)
GATE CITY, Va., Jan. 24.— The difficult task of selecting a jury, officially open the trial of John Barnett, charged with the slaying of Creed Frazier, ex-sheriff of the county, and his son, Willie, in Scott County circuit court at 10:00 o'clock this morning. After an hour's examination of prospective jurors only five had been selected and the case was continued until 10:00 o'clock tomorrow morning to allow the summoning of another panel from which to complete the jury.
It is expected that all of tomorrow morning will be occupied in completing the jury and that the hearing of the case will not actually begin until afternoon. Great difficulty is being experienced in selecting a jury, due to the prominence of the slain man and the widespread interest that the shooting has aroused in this section.
A crowd of over 500 pushed into the courtroom, lined its walls and stood about the outside of the courthouse at the beginning of the case this morning. It was by far the largest crowd that has attended any trial at this session of
court or any other for many years. It was composed of men from all sections of Scott County and many from nearby counties, interest and feeling being intense as to the outcome of the trial.
The Scott County courthouse, more than a half century old, affords a drab but none the less picturesque setting for the coming trial. Two stories high, of dull red brick, it rears itself in the center of Gate City. The eyes of the entire county are focused upon it, waiting with intensity for the word of conviction or acquittal that will shortly be broadcast from its long and high flight off front steps, where much of the overflow crowd from the courtroom gathers.
The courtroom itself carries out the impression of age. Dimly lighted, its high windows obscured by surrounding buildings; drab plaster walls, cracked and stained from the ravage of years; slanting floor, lined with handmade wooden benches; the hand-hewed rail that separates the spectators from the judge and jury; the long wooded tables immediately behind the bar and paralleling it, were the counsel for prosecution and defense, and the prisoner sit; the judge's bench, on a raised dais, fronted by the 12 jurors' chairs; four immense pot-bellied stoves, heated to a red pitch; the low hum that always accompanies silence; all tend to cast an impression of weighty justice, not to be swayed by human emotion. The only modern touch to the courtroom are the 12 chairs that are to be occupied by the jurors. They are discordant with the rest of the scene in their blatant newness.
Origin of Crime
The double murder is said to have had its inception in a quarrel over a parcel of land. The Fraziers and Barnett were engaged in logging operations at a mill about four miles west of Spear's Ferry. The quarrel occurred in the morning of last September 20, at which time the Fraziers left the mill. Later in the afternoon, the slain men, in company with Mahone Frazier, Creed's brother, and Creed's other son, Roy, returned to the mill, to effect an amicable settlement of the quarrel with Barnett the kinsmen said.
As the four men approached the mill Barnett is said to have come out with a high-power rifle in his hands. According to the story told by Roy and Mahone, Creed had a rifle at rest over his shoulder.
Seeing apparently that Barnett intended shooting, Creed is said to have extended his hand and said, "John, for God's sake don't shoot. can to a friendly agreement." As he uttered words, which were his last, Barnett is alleged to have opened fire, Creed dropping immediately. The others started to run, Mahone and Roy making their escape, while the withering rain of lead dropped Willie. After the shooting they said that Creed was the only one in their party that was armed.
It is understood that Burnett's
defense for the slaying of Creed, will be that he was forced to fire in
self-defense. What the defense be for the killing of Willie, is not known.
It is understood that Barnett will be tried separately on the two charges
of murder, first for the murder of Creed and then for the murder of
Willie. All indications are that the rest of the week will be occupied in
the hearing of the cases, with the possibility that the trials may even
extend into next week.