Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William C. Chormicle and the
Castaic Range War.

Los Angeles Times.
June 6, 1890.

The Story Of The Shooting.
The Trial To Be Resumed This Morning.

Yesterday completed the first week of the Chormicle and Gardner murder trial, now going on before Judge Chenny in Department No. 1 of the Superior Court.

When court convened District Attorney McComas announced that Juan Burola, the old Mexican, had been found. The prosecution lingered in closing its case while efforts were being made to find the old man, and at last he was found near Verdugo, where he went last Sunday. The prosecution intimated that if allowed to do so they could explain how Burola was spirited away, and that it was by persons interested in the defense. This the court refused to go into, and Burola was allowed to go on the stand, the prosecution being reopened for that purpose. The old fellow is weak and tremulous, and gave his testimony with great difficulty through an interpreter, as follows:


Q.: Where were you living at the time Dolores Cook is said to have been shot?

A.: I was at Juan Leiva's house in Castac.

Q.: Were you acquainted with W.C. Chormicle?

A.: Yes, sir. I saw him there that day. I don't recollect what time I first saw him. It was in the morning, about 8 o'clock. I saw three come with Mr. Chormicle. One of them went away and one remained with Mr. Chormicle.

The witness said, the defendant Gardner being brought before him, "I know him, but don't know his name."

Q.: Who was at Juan Leiva's house that morning before they came?

A.: No one but a little boy.

Q.: Which did you not know, the man who went away or the one who remained?

A.: The man who went away.

Q.: Do you see the man here in the courtroom whom you saw there that day?

A.: No, sir.

Q.: What happened when Mr. Chormicle and the man were there?

A.: They went out and did not come back.

Q.: Did you see Cook and Jose Olme there that day?

A.: Yes, sir.

Q.: What did they do?

A.: Nothing.

Q.: Was there any shooting there that day?

A.: Yes, sir. I didn't see it because I was away from the window. I was sitting on a chicken coop. Cook was coming in front of the window. When they were coming then the shooting came. I saw only that Cook fell. Olme started from there and hid behind a wagon. He didn't do anything. He ran away. He was leading a small mare. I did not see any one in front of the house when the shooting was going on. I did not see where it came from. The shooting was from the inside of the house. I saw Mr. Chormicle and Mr. Gardner after the shooting. They went up the canon. Mr. Chormicle was on foot, and the other man was on a small mare. I did not see Mr. Chormicle on horseback. I saw a fight in front of the house in the morning, when the first wagon came. The men on the wagon got off and one struck a blow at Mr. Chormicle. Then they clinched, and both fell. When they fell the man inside came out with a rifle. I saw a rifle besides. It was out of order, and in the house. I saw no other arms, except that I saw Mr. Chormicle drop a pistol and he picked it up. The wagon at the time of the shooting was on one side of the house. No one was on the wagon at the time of the shooting.

The old man was confused in his answers upon cross-examination, and was obliged to rest once, he was so weak.


He testified: "I must be near a hundred years old. I was born in Mexico. When the team drove up in the morning first, I was on one side of the window, toward the setting sun. I do not speak English. Jose Olme spoke to the men in Spanish. I don't here or see well; I see very little. When the men clinched and got up, then the pistol fell from Mr. Chormicle.

Q.: Did a bullet strike in front of you during the fight?

A.: No, sir; it passed more to one side. I did not dodge to one side from any bullets.

Q.: Do you remember Francisco Martinez coming to you after the shooting?

A.: It was late.

Q.: Did you tell him Dolores Cook Shot at you?

A.: No, sir.

Q.: Could you see the window at the time of the shooting?

A.: No, sir.

Q.: What side were you?

A.: The sunset side. If Mr. Chormicle had been in front I could not have seen him.

Q.: Where were you during the shooting?

A.: On the inside. They were inside, because they were not in front. The little boy was near me. The boy could not see the window, either.

Q.: Have you had any conversations with W.W. Jenkins about this case?

A.: No, sir.

Q.: Do you remember Jenkins, Felipe Chavez and others coming to the County Jail during the preliminary examination, when you were held as a witness?

A.: No, sir.


Q.: Do you remember Jenkins telling you he would give you a suit of clothes if you testified on his side in this case?

A.: He said he would give me a present.

Q.: Then you remember he came to see you?

A.: Yes, sir.

The old man was interrogated at some length by Mr. Murphy in regard to his former testimony at the preliminary examination, and was pretty well mixed before the queries were concluded. The substance of his replies was that he did not see the shooting, and that W.W. Jenkins offered him a suit of clothes to testify on his side.

On re-direct examination the witness said that he has been at Verdugo ever since Sunday, and had seen Mrs. Chormicle there.

The defense now finished on its line of character witnesses. Dr. Guiberson of Santa Paula, who has resided there since 1874, testified that he has known the defendant Gardner ever since he was a boy, and that his reputation for peace and quiet is good.

James Balcomb of Santa Paula, a stock raiser, and acquainted with Gardner for fifteen or sixteen years, testified that his reputation for peace and quiet is good.

Kern Randolph of Ventura county also testified to the good reputation of the defendant Gardner.

Richard Tanner of Santa Monica, who had been a boyhood comrade with Gardner, testified that he has a good reputation.


The first witness introduced was Frederick A. Pooler, who testified that he resides at the corner of Alamo and St. Elmo streets. He was an employment agent, and is acquainted with W.W. Jenkins and George W. Walton. He first knew Walton about last July. He knew Jenkins three years ago.

A question being asked if Jenkins did not procure Pooler to get some one to take land in the Castac Canon, objection was made, Mr. Murphy stating that he expected to show a conspiracy on the part of Jenkins, Walton and others against the defendants. The objection was overruled.

"The latter part of last year," the witness said, "Mr. Jenkins was in my office."

On objection, Jenkin's statements were ruled out by the court at this time, his connection with the case not being made out sufficiently.

"Well," continued Mr. Murphy, "when did you see Walton after that?"


"Shortly after. I told him where to go to get a Government claim-to Jenkins-and he went. He came back and said would not take it. He could not get it without a fight or wear striped clothes, and he would not do it. He said Jenkins showed him the land, and that there were persons on it. After that I sent Walton to work on a ranch. Some time after Walton met me on Spring street, and took me to the middle of the street. He said, 'I am down here to get Wilson's cattle. Don't you let him know I am Jenkin's partner, because he is down on Jenkins and we can't get them.' He said that he had got the land, and would share it with Jenkins. he said there was trouble ahead of him, but he was man enough to stay with it."

On cross-examination the witness said he was an employment agent for about three years. He could not tell the exact date of the conversation with Walton, but it was in the fall of last year. He could not remember the date of his first meeting with Walton. He thought the conversation with him was in January or February of this year. The witness insisted that Walton told him he took up the piece of land of which he had told him, not any other piece.


Mac Pyle of the Castac Canon testified that he had been summoned by the prosecution. He was at the scene of the tragedy the day after the shooting. He found a 44 Winchester and a 45-70 Marlin cartridge shell. They were six or eight feet in front of the cabin.

On cross-examination he said he found the small one about half way between the door and window, and the larger one at the left of the door as one would come out.


Miss Hilda Martinez, sworn: I reside at Castac, and have for seven or eight years. I was born in Ventura county. I know where the shooting occurred. I live on section 14. I know the defendant W.C. Chormicle and the defendant W.A. Gardner. I know Jose Olme and W.W. Jenkins, the latter a little. I remember the day of the shooting. I was on my land, on the line that divides sections 14 and 23. I was going to look at the lines of my land. I went at 9 o'clock, more or less. I could see the cabin on section 23 from where I was and the land. Mr. Chormicle built that cabin. The place where I stood was higher than the cabin. My attention was attracted. First I saw a boy arrive on a spring wagon, where in the morning they had placed a pile of lumber. Finally the spring wagon went in the direction of Castac and the buggy remained with two men. A man went from the cabin. Afterward a large wagon came and the man went back to the cabin. The man who went from the cabin only stayed a little while. After the large wagon came up they put lumber on it, and came toward the house. When in front of the house a man came from the house and stood in front. A man jumped from the wagon, precipitately, and it seemed as if he had taken him on the head. The other one jumped down from the wagon. There was a large wagon and a buggy. Then another man came from the side of the house, and stood near those who were struggling. Then the men got on the wagon, and went with the lumber behind the house on section 23. Afterward they unloaded the lumber, and the wagon went back very fast, the buggy always following. They loaded the wagon again, and came back. When they were coming I was not noticing particularly. I heard a little shot. I stood up then and took particular notice. I saw a man standing in front of the house. I heard three more shots. I saw the buggy returned in the direction of the lumber down below, and a man together with the buggy. I saw two men come from the direction of the house, one on foot first, and the other on horseback. Before the shots I saw two men standing on the front part of the wagon. One went with the buggy, and the other-I could not see what became of him. There was one man or two in the buggy as they were going up to the cabin. I don't know what became of him or them. I only saw the person around the house, whom I mentioned-the one in front. I saw no more near the house. I saw no shots fired after the boy when he was going away with the buggy. I saw smoke between the man that was standing and the wagon and buggy. I saw a man also on the side of the hill, and one at the creek. The latter, after the shooting, went in the brush and then went to the house. He first got to the wagon, and looked at something down on the ground. He moved something else and took it to the house. After that another man came out, and they went to where the thing were on the ground. Then he got the buggy and came back with it. I did not see any more. From the point where I saw the man I could not see anything in front of the house.

The cross-examination of the witness was quite extended, but nothing particularly new, beyond her direct evidence, was brought out.

John Hall, architect, testified that he was in the Castac Canon, and Miss Hilda Martinez pointed out the points she observed, that is the locations of the different objects and persons she saw. also that he afterward pointed out these places to Mr. Fortune, a photographer, who took the photographs which have been used during the case.

This finished the proceedings for the day, and the trial will be resumed this morning.

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