Ezra Daniels Kills Own Child
Raleigh Register - Thursday - 3 Feb 1921 Beckley, W. Va.
Ezra Daniels Gets off With 3 Years For Killing Child
Wife, Only Eye-Witness, Not Permitted to Testify, Though Also Wounded
Ezra Daniels, tried in the criminal court last week, for the murder of his own child, after wounding its mother at their home on Sand Lick last August 14th entered a plea of guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary. Early in the trial of the case Judge Anderson ruled that the wife could not testify against the husband. Inasmuch as she was the only eye-witness to the ragedy, the ruling left the prosecution without a leg to stand on.
Making the best of the situation, the prosecution introduced what other evidence was available and rested its case. The defense rested without the introduction of any evidence, and offered to accept a compromise by which Daniels would plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter. The prosecution agreed, and the man was immediately sentenced.
The facts in the case were of the most heinous character, but because the only living witness was not permitted to testify, they could not be brought before the jury. Daniels, in a drunken rage, shot the baby's mother. At the instant the shot was fired, the baby was held in its mother's left arm, looking over her shoulder. The bullet plowed through the mother's face, entered the back of the baby's head and came out through its forehead.
He had repeatedly threatened the mother with death, and was evidently bent upon murder, the only accidental feature of the case being that the baby was killed instead of the mother.
Contributed by Nyla Creed DePauk
The Raleigh Register, Beckley, W. Va Thursday, August 19, 1920
EZRA DANIELS WOUNDS WIFE AND KILLS BABY
Sand Lick Man Held for Terrible Crime, Which Was Accomplished With Single Shot from Automatic Pistol.
In one of the most harrowing tragedies that has ever taken place in Raleigh county, Mrs. Agnes Daniels was seriously wounded and her 16 month old baby killed by a pistol shot fired by Ezra Daniels, the husband and father, Saturday evening at their home on Sand Lick creek, five miles from Maynor post office.
Daniels is in the county jail fairly fuming with regret and horror over his terrible crime, committed in a fit of drunken rage, while his wife was holding their baby girl in her arms trying to shield it and herself from his madness. He is a young man 25 or 26 years of age, and Mrs. Daniels is not much over twenty. They have been married about four years and have one older child.
The first news of the tragedy reached Beckley through a telephone call to the Sheriff's office asking that an officer be sent to the scene. Deputy Sheriff E. E. Maynor, of Harper was sent and took with him Dr. W. W. Cooper, Harper physician. When they reached the neighborhood about 1:30 o'clock Sunday morning they found the principals in the tragedy at the home of Jehu Williams. The wound of the woman had already received attention at the hands of Dr. G. P. Daniel, of Marshes, who had arrived earlier in the night.
Daniels Admits Crime
Daniels was at once placed under arrest by Deputy Maynor, submitting without protest. The officer and doctor spent the night there. Meanwhile Justice of the Peace Prince Stover of Clear Fork district was summoned and about nine o'clock Sunday morning an inquest over the body of the baby was held. The coroner's jury was composed of the following men: Will Newman, Jehu Williams, George Henderson, C. H. Arthur, James Atha and Bob Dickens. They decided the baby came to its death at the hands of its father. He admitted the crime, but claimed the killing of the baby was accidental-that he was shooting at its mother.
Events leading up to the tragedy are not clear, but moonshine whisky was undoubtedly one of the principal causes. Danels is suspected of having made whiskey and perhaps also of bootlegging it. There had been friction between himself and his young wife for some time. Just before the shooting he is said to have sent her to the spring for a bucket of water, declaring that if she did not come back in five minutes he would kill her.
Whether she got the water is not clear, but when the fatal shot was fired Mrs. Daniels had grasped her baby to her bosom to calm its screams of fright at the menacing attitude of her father. At the instant the shot was fired the baby was held in its mother's left arm looking over her shoulder. The bullet, a .32 calibre copper jacketed ball, fired from an automatic, entered the right side of the mother's face, tore its way through her head, entered the back of the baby's head and came out through its forehead.
The Harrowing Details
Mad with pain and fright, the mother ran out of the house and about a half mile to the home of Jehu Williams, carrying the dying baby all the way. She was blood from head to foot, and the baby's brains had run down her clothing from the gaping wound in its head. The husband had followed and reached the Williams home about the same time, already sobered and whimpering with remorse over his crime.
The baby died in about a half-hour. The mother was made as comfortable as possible until a doctor could reach her side and give attention to the terrible wounds she carried.
Deputy Sheriff Maynor states that the Daniels home, and particularly the room, in which the shooting occurred, resembled a slaughter pen. The mingled blood of the mother and chlld seemed to cover everything.
No preliminary hearing of the case has been held, other than the inquest conducted by Magistrate Stover, and it is not considered likely that any will be held. Daniels will remain in jail until is case is called at the next term of criminal court.
Contributed by Rita O'Brien