Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William C. Chormicle and the
Castaic Range War.

Los Angeles Times.
June 13, 1890.

More Testimony As To The Shooting — The Trend Of Public Sympathy With The Defense.

The defense in the Chormicle and Gardner murder case continues to pound away on the characters of Dolores Cook and George Walton, the deceased. The courtroom was filled again yesterday, and the proceedings, while embracing nothing startling, brought in a lot of corroborating evidence to the detailed story heretofore told. As the defense approaches the conclusion of its testimony, it is plain to be seen that the public generally has formed positive opinions about the case. The pathetic and dramatic incident of the trial, Where old Mr. Chormicle assumed the entire responsibility of the shooting, if any is to accrue, and has done all in his power to turn loose his young friend, Will Gardner, could not fail of producing a strong feeling of sympathy for such a course. Whether true or not that Mr. Chormicle did all the shooting, he has deliberately taken all the blame to himself, and sworn that he, and know one else, killed Cook and Walton. The interest of spectators in the case is intense. They watch every point, and very few go out of the courtroom after once coming in.


D.W. Field, Public Administrator, was called out of order by the prosecution, and testified that some eight years ago Dolores Cook worked for him, and he considered his reputation good. He was not certain about Cook's previous record.

C.B. Richardson, an attorney, testified that he knew Cook, and had seen him carrying arms at Newhall. His reputation was as bad as bad could be. That was seven years ago. Since that time he has not known the deceased.

H.A. Brandscomb, a resident of Newhall for five years, testified that he had employed cook. He always carried weapons, and his reputation was bad.

William B. Rose testified that Cook's reputation was bad.

Harry Lateur, a resident of Castac Canon, testified that he has lived there for seven or eight years. In a conversation once Cook asked him if he was a friend of Chormicle's. The witness having replied that he was, Cook said it made no difference, that Chormicle had to get out of that section. He also said Cook's reputation was bad.

G. Baron, who went to the Castac country in 1875, testified that Cook's reputation was bad.


Mr. Brockwell, being recalled, testified that he went to the spot where Miss Martinez said she saw a man standing during the shooting. He found the footprints of a man going toward the cabin, and testified that from the point where Thomas Riley said he stood, a person could not see the cabin, owing to a thick growth of brush.

Mrs. Martinez testified that she saw the shooting. She was standing with her daughter at the time. She saw Olme and Walton drive up on the lumber wagon, heard the shots and saw the smoke. She said that she saw a man standing in front of the house. The smoke came from that direction. The man who had been standing in front of the house afterwards went up the canon. She also said she saw a man standing in the brush.

A vigorous attempt was made to break down the witness on cross-examination, but she stuck straight to her story and could not be budged from it.


Thomas Riley was recalled by the defense at the afternoon session for the purpose of laying the foundation for an impeachment. Mr. Murphy asked him about his testimony before the Coroner and at the preliminary examination. Several minor differences were pointed out by counsel in their queries.

Riley claims to have witnessed the shooting of Cook and Walton, and that the defendants shot from the inside of the house. In the former examination Riley said he stood at the bottom of the hill. In this trial he testified that he stood farther up the slope. If he stood at the bottom he could not possibly have seen the shooting as clearly as he says he did.


W.W. Jenkins was called, and, as his name was pronounced, a ripple of interest seemed to travel about through the audience.

He was required to produce his docket as Justice of the Peace, and pointed out the entries in regard to the arrest of Mrs. Chormicle and her son on a charge of misdemeanor in putting up a part of their own fence that Olme and George Walton had torn down.

He testified that the original complaints were drawn up by Messrs. Wells, Guthrie & Lee of this city, but that he drafted new ones, following the originals in their wording. He did not recollect why the originals were not used.

The witness was allowed to be withdrawn, the defense stating that it would need him again later on in the trial.


George Chormicle, son of the defendant, testified: "I am 16 years old. I am a son of W.C. Chormicle, the defendant. I remember being arrested and taken before W.W. Jenkins at Newhall. I did not see the complaint, that is, I did not examine it. Others read it in my hearing. John Kelton and my mother were taken before Jenkins with me. The constable told us that the arrest was for putting up a fence that had been torn down."

The complaint was not allowed in, the defense stating that they wished to show that it was not a legal one, and that all the official acts of Jenkins relative to the arrest were without authority; that he exceeded his jurisdiction in sending the boy to jail, and that for such reasons he was released under writ of habeas corpus, Judge Wade administering a sharp rebuke to Jenkins.

The boy described the manner in which Walton hauled the lumber on section 23, and about having helped his mother to remove it. Walton hauled it back the same night. He told how Walton struck him when he tried to prevent the placing of the lumber on the section. He repeated the language used by Walton upon the occasion, and it is to vulgar for publication. The witness testified that is was Jenkin's custom to pasture his cattle on section 23, and that he (the witness) had frequently driven them out. He had seen Jenkins and his men standing at the gate to prevent their being driven out again.

He said that Jose Olme and W.H. George tore down a fence on the land which had been put there a year before by his father- the fence they put up and for which they were brought to the County Jail. He said his brother made a copy of the complaint, and it was introduced in evidence. Where Olme and George were plowing there was a crop of barley, which was destroyed. They just ran over the land., and did not plow it thoroughly-just enough to destroy the grain.


Frank Chormicle, another son of the defendant, testified to the arrest of his mother and brother, and that he copied the complaint against them. It was then read to the jury. He came with his brother to apply for release under writ of habeas corpus. Jenkins had entered a plea of guilty when the boys admitted that they put up the fence after it had been torn down.

At this point the prosecution admitted that the boys were discharged under a writ of habeas corpus, for an offense not known to the statutes of the State.

John Hall, the architect, was recalled and produced a diagram and measurements which he had taken of the scene of the tragedy, and they were admitted in evidence.

RETURN TO TOP ]   RETURN TO MAIN INDEX ]   PHOTO CREDITS ]   BIBLIOGRAPHY ]   BOOKS FOR SALE ] is another service of SCVTV, a 501c3 Nonprofit • Site contents ©SCVTV • Additional copyrights apply