VAN ARSDALE’S TRIAL

The Young Man charged with Murdering His Uncle.

RICHMOND WITNESSES DEPOSE

Though summoned the the Prosecution, Dr. W.H. Taylor’s Testimony Helped the Defence – Sergeant Hall and Officer Bradley on the Stand.

NEWPORT NEWS, VA. September 27 (Special) – The trial of young Russell Van Arsadle, indicted for the murder of his Great-Uncle, Robert Kelly, at Deep Creek, June 24th last, opened in earnest this morning at Warwick Courthouse with the introduction of the evidence of old man Samuel Kelly, the aged brother of the deceased, and who was himself at first arrested on suspicion of having committed the brutal deed.

Very little iterest is manifested in the trial by the people of Warwick County, hardly a score of witnesses being present at the morning session.  The crowd swelled in the afternoon, though.

The prisoner was brought into court wearing a new suit of clothes.  His hair had not been dressed since incarceration and hangs down over his collar in curls.

Samuel Kelly testified that he had seen the two Van Arsdale brothers Russell and Charles at the Deep Creek home on Sunday.  Monday morning early he left home for his sister’s near Newport News, and met Russell going towards Deep Creek, the latter telling him he was out for a walk.  The next night he (the witness) was apprised of the murder and was placed under arrest.

George Jones, Oakland Harris, Willie Marlow, C.H. Davis, William Lexon and Richard T. Harris testified to having seen Russell at different times at the Kelly home Sunday or going in the direction of and coming home from the house Monday, the day of the murder.

The witnessed from Richmond, where the prisoner was arrested, were put on the stand next.  Police Sergeant Hall’s testimony related to  certain statements made by the prisoner after arrest, but practically all of it was ruled out.

Policeman E.J. Bradley testified that he was the Station Keeper the night Van Arsdale was brought in.  The night Sheriff Curtis came after the prisoner.

Curtis said, “Hello, Russell. How are you?” and the prisoner answered, “I am feeling damned tough.  Somebody has sworn out a warrant charging me with murder.”

The sheriff then asked him about the watch and Van Arsdale said, “That watch is going to make is damned hard for me.”

The witness went on to say that the sheriff asked how the prisoner got the watch and was told by Van Arsdale that his uncle gave it to him to keep Samuel Kelly from getting it.

The bloody shirt which was taken off the prisoner at Richmond was put in evidence at this time and was identified by the witness.

The court took a recess until 2:30 o’clock, resuming the examination then.

Dr. W.H. Taylor, State Chemist, was expected to prove the blood stains on the prisoner’s clothing, but he only identified some specks on the back of the shirt as blood, and thought they might be from numerous causes.  He proved an invaluable witness for the defence, although summoned by the Commonwealth.

A number of other witnesses were heard who testified to seeing Van Arsdale or a man of his appearance in the vicinity of the Kelly home on the day of the murder.

Evidence was also introduced relative to the finding of the body and the inquest.

Commonwealth Attorney Wilcox have attempted to introduce a letter written by the prisoner to his mother, which has been interpreted by sheriff Curtis. In the letter the prisoner wrote, “The shirt and pants I had on that day is at home.”

Counsel for the Commonwealth argued that to introduce this letter the Commonwealth could only contradict its own evidence and that for this purpose the defence also ruled the letter out until the proper time.

The Commonwealth rested, and tomorrow the defence will put on its witnesses.