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Surprise verdict for Faircloth


Just before the January 27, 1938 issue of The Bossier Banner went to press, the jury in the trial of Claude Faircloth, accused of killing Sn[y]der Keith, reached its verdict. Shortly before three o’clock the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty.”

“The case had been argued during the morning, with special prosecutor Joe Cawthorn opening the summation before the jury. He was followed in turn by the three attorneys for the defense, R. H. Lee, A. M. Wallace and Ford E. Stinson, with District Attorney R. F. Kennon closing for the State. The jury retired to eat the noon day meal and later to deliberate, after having been charged by Judge J. F. McInnis.”

“A large crowd of interested spectators waited with baited breath after the jury filed in and before the findings were read to the Court by Clerk of Court A. J. Broussard. The District Attorney asked that the jury be polled and each juror answered that he concurred in the verdict.”

“There was little demonstration in the courtroom, as the judge had warned against it.”

Faircloth’s trial began the previous Monday morning when selection of the jury began. Once the jury was selected, arguments were under way. The State’s presentation of numerous witnesses included Dr. J. B. Hall, Bossier Coroner, and Cullen Keith, brother of the slain man and the only witness for the State who was an eye witness to the shooting. Once all its witnesses had testified, the State rested its case.

Witnesses for the defense were then called to testify. Among those witnesses were Paul Faircloth, a brother of the accused, Claude Faircloth, the defendant and W. W. Carter, a member of the Coroner’s Jury which was impaneled after the shooting. From the defense witnesses, little or no admissible testimony was given.

“After the defense rested, the State recalled Cullen Keith to identify a .22 rifle as being the one Sn[y]der Keith was carrying the day he was shot, and Dr. Hall, who exhibited the empty cartridge, alleged to have been found at the spot where Snyder Keith was standing when he was killed and other empty cartridges, which Sheriff Padgett had fired from the gun identified by Keith.”

“After the testimony, both the State and defense closed and Court was adjourned until nine o’clock this morning, when argument of counsel on both sides was to begin.”

To learn more details about the trial of Claude Faircloth, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. The Bossier Banner published many other trials along with more accounts of interesting local news.


Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.