Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

The Castac Case.
Testimony for the Prosecution Nearly In.

Cook's Ante-Mortem Statement to His Wife.
How Chormicle and Gardener Surrendered Themselves.
A Long List of Witnesses Summoned From Ventura County on Behalf of the Defendants.

Click to enlarge.

The trial of W.C. Chormicle and W.A. Gardener on the charge of the murder of Dolores Cook and G.W. Walton was resumed at 10 o'clock yesterday morning before Judge Cheney and a jury in department 1 of the superior court, the first witness called being Gustave Dehaveaux, a surveyor. He testified to having, at the request of one of the attorneys for the prosecution, on March 15th last, made a diagram of the Liebes cabin and its immediate surroundings. On cross-examination he stated that he went to the cabin from Jenkins's house. Last June he was a witness for Jenkins in a case pending in the United States court. At the request of one of the attorneys for the prosecution he had made an experiment as to whether anyone could be seen inside the cabin from where the dead men had stood.

Dr. D. Granville McGowan, the next witness, testified that on March 1st last he held post-mortem examinations upon the bodies of the two men, Walton and Cook. Death resulted in Walton's case from three bullet wounds, one in the left breast, one under the armpit and the last in the middle or [sic] the back, which was evidently a wound of exit from the second bullet. The cause of death in Cook's case was a bullet wound in the left shoulder, severing the collar bone and cutting the spinal cord.

W.H. George, a farmer and resident of the Castac cañon, testified that on the day of the shooting he was at his house, a mile and a half from the scene of the murder. An hour after the shooting he went to the cabin with others, on hearing of the affair to investigate. On the way he called in at Jenkins's house and saw Thomas Riley, who had a loaded revolver in his hand, which he said he had picked up. He accompanied Riley and two Mexicans back to the cabin, and assisted in picking up Walton's body and placing it in the wagon. At the close of his direct testimony the court took a recess for luncheon.

On resuming at 1:30 o'clock George was cross-examined, and stated that several weeks before the shooting he had caused Chormicle's arrest for building a fence on some disputed territory, which he claimed as government land, but which Chormicle claimed as railroad land. He did not take up the land in the interest of Jenkins or anyone else. He had made an experiment with a man named Freeman from various points outside the Liebes cabin, and therefore knew that it was quite possible to see and recognize anyone inside the windows for a considerable distance. He knew of the flight of the defendants after the shooting, although he did not go up to their houses to see whether they were at home or not.

Mrs. Francisca Cook, the wife of one of the dead men, was then called to the stand. She testified that she saw her husband, Dolores Cook, at Jenkins's house after he had been shot in the Castac Cañon. After questioning her as to his wounds, he had told her that he could not live, and asked her to take care of their children. His mind was clear and he was in full possession of all his senses until the time of his death, which occurred about ten minutes after the witness arrived at his bedside. She asked him about the shooting, and he told her that he saw Gardener shoot at him through one of the windows of the Liebes cabin. On cross-examination Mrs. Cook said she was unable to tell who were present at her husband's bedside at the time of his death, as there were so many of them, and she was too preoccupied to notice them. Her husband's wounded arm had been set when she arrived at Jenkins's house, but she noticed that his shirt sleeve had been torn off in order to get at the wound. The only person she had spoken to about her husband's ante-mortem statement was one of the attorneys for the prosecution.

W.H. Riley, sheriff of Ventura county, stated that he saw and arrested the defendants in a house in the Piru cañon, Ventura county. They were both armed with rifles, Chormicle having a Marlin, and Gardener a Winchester. He had received word from the defendants as to where they were awaiting him, and he went to them and took them to Ventura on March 11th last. They remained in the jail at that place all night, and were brought down to Los Angeles next day by himself and Sheriff Aguirre. While en route both defendants were placed in the baggage car before reaching Newhall, as they had expressed themselves as afraid of being lynched at that place by the Jenkins gang. The witness positively identified the two rifles which were produced as those which he had taken from the defendants at the Ventura depot. The witness was briefly cross-examined by the defense, which made a point of the fact that the defendants sought him and surrendered themselves at the first opportunity. The court then allowed the defense to call Riley out of the regular order as a character witness, in order to allow of his return to Ventura, and he then testified that he had known Chormicle for a number of years, and knew his reputation in Ventura county to be good.

At this juncture the prosecution announced that Juan Barola and John Goldsworthy, its two remaining witnesses, had absented themselves and could not be found, and it therefore asked to be allowed to rest its case conditionally, but when said witnesses appeared heir testimony might be introduced. This the court refused to allow, but after Thomas Riley and W.H. George had been recalled and questioned as to certain experiments made by Goldsworthy in their presence at the Liebes cabin after the shooting, the court ordered a recess until this morning at 10 o'clock, at which time it is hoped by the prosecution that the missing witnesses will be produced.

The following is a partially complete list of those who have been subpoenaed in Ventura county as witnesses for the defense: J. Logan Kennedy, Charles Lovegrove, Sam Todd, Al Baker, H.S. Bennison, H.S. Adney, H.L. Hardison, Dr. Mott, Dr. S.P. Guiberson, Orrin Moore, J.F. Cummins, James Evans, Abner Haines, Jake Rehart, Thomas Holden, J.S. Barkla, Leonard Skinner, George Skinner, John Harbard, Rev. Mr. Brown, Rev. M. McNiff, B.T. Kenney, Brice Grimes, John Kelton, S.A. Guiberson, Rev. C.C. Riley, W.T. Kent, C.H. McKevett, James Balcom, W.E. Balcom, M. Coffman, Hon. B.T. Williams, L.F. Eastin, G.G. Sewell, E.B. Williams, John Maban, Juan Topia, Mrs. Antonia Rodriguez, A.J. Snodgrass, Jas. Donlon, Jno. Barry, J.T. Stow, A. Bernheim, Al Ayers, Judge S.A. Sheppard, Leon Cerf, F.E. Barnard, E.S. Hall, Mrs. Carrie Guiberson, C.T. Meredith, J.W. Harkey, J.A. Conaway, C.W. Baker, Jas. Bellah, G.W. Chrisman, J.R. Willoughby, Wm. Beard, W.H. Reilly, Chas. T. Wason, Bob Mathews, W.L. Barnes.

Some of these have been in attendance since the commencement of the trial on Tuesday last, but the majority are awaiting telegraphic summons when their presence is required.

News story courtesy of Lauren Parker.


• Bill Jenkins & Lazy Z

••• SERIES •••
Chormicle, Gardener Tried for Murder of Cook, Walton

• Pollack Story 2014
• Reynolds Story
• C. Rasmussen Story


Story of Bill Jenkins
Kreider 1952


W.C. Chormicle


Chormicle Allies Start a School, 1889/90


Land Feud Goes to Court 1890


Chormicle's Son Arrested 1890


Dolores Cook Land Patent 1891


Suen Murders Aceda 1895


Chormicle Sued for Slander 1910

SEE ALSO: Lazy Z (Jenkins Ranch) Graves Unearthed 1998

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