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Augusta: Robert L. Doyle to John Letcher, June 18, 1860

Doyle writes to Gov. Latcher supporting the petition by a number of Augusta Co. citizens to free convicted criminal James McMullen. He suggests that the witness who testified against McMullen is not trustworthy and also mentions an African-American accomplice.

HonlJ Letcher
Gov of Virginia

18th June 1860


Dear Sir

This will be handed to you by Mrs McMullen the wife of James McMullen who was sentenced at the present term of our Circuit Court to Three years confinement in the Penitentiary - The petition which she will lay before you sets forth, so far as mere writing can; her strong claims upon the executive clemency The witness against McMullen was one Wm Painter, one of the gang who for many years have infested the South bottom in Rockbridge, he has not been long enough a resident of this section to have acquired a Genl character - His testimony was verry remarkable to say the least of it. He said he was sleeping in the same room with two other persons, one of them in the same bed with him all men [unclear: grown] & [unclear: stout] there were other men sleeping in the same house all in the employment of the man of the house - That after 12 o'clock at night he went out in his night

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clothes to see about the horses of which he had the care, upon going out of the house he saw a free negro man whom he knew very well coming out of the Smoke house, with a piece of bacon in his hand - that he stood still & presently the negro returned & went again into the Smoke house & carried off another piece of bacon that he then saw the negro & McMullen come out from behind the Smoke house with each of them a bag of bacon upon their backs - during all of this time the witness said he stood perfectly still & did not make any noise [deleted: Th] he then returned to his bed and said nothing to any of his fellow lodgers - the next morning his employer missed his bacon - but now Painter remained as dumb as an oyster upon the subject of his midnight discovery - & never said any thing about it for eight days although his employer was making every effort to discover the thief.

McMullen I have known for several years - & he has always borne the character of an honest man of steady habits & very industrious

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His family are poor but of proverbial honesty in Bath County - You no doubt remember McMullen as the driver of the stage from Lexington to Goschen for several years & know some thing of his character - Knowing him as well as I do - I can not believe him Guilty of the charge preferred against him by Painter - I hope and [unclear: trust] you may grant the prayer of his poor wife, and believe that the act will not in any degree weaken other sanctions of our criminal code

Truly Yours

Ro L Doyle

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