Following an illness since last Tuesday, Dr. John Preston Kennedy died in the Baptist Hospital at Jackson yesterday morning at 5:30.
Funeral services were held this morning at the home of Dr. Kennedy' brother, Dr. Barney Kennedy, Woodlawn Hills, Jackson, and interment was made at Lakewood Memorial Park in Jackson.
Dr. Kennedy was stricken ill Tuesday while en route to the home of his parents, Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Kennedy at Pinola, and was rushed to the Baptist Hospital in Jackson for treatment.
Dr. Kennedy was one of the most brilliant and prominent young surgeons in Mississippi and one of Greenwood's outstanding citizens.
He numbered his friends by the wide scope of his acquaintanceship, and hundreds of Greenwood people will mourn his death at the very apex of a brilliant career as a personal bereavement.
Dr. Kennedy was born near D'Lo in Simpson County, Mississippi, on November 24, 1892. During his boyhood he lived at Pinola in Simpson County. Finishing high school he entered the Memphis Hospital Medical College, receiving his degree of Doctor of Medicine.
He first located at Vancleave, Jackson County, Mississippi, remaining there for three years before moving to Greenwood, where he quickly rose to recognition as one of the outstanding physicians and surgeons in Mississippi.
In September 1917, a few months after the United States entered the World War, Dr. Kennedy joined the Medical Corps of the United States Army, with rank of first lieutenant. He was stationed at base hospital, Camp McClelland until December of that year, when he was transferred to Camp Gordon, Georgia where he served until discharged.
Since returning from service Dr. Kennedy has been continually engaged in practice in Greenwood, with the exception of 1920-21 which he spent in New York City, taking special courses in the New York Postgraduate Medical School and Hospital.
Dr. Kennedy was married on June 24, 1924 to Miss Bessie Barry Brunson, of West Point. He is survived by his parents, Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Kennedy of Pinola; two brothers, Dr. Henry Kennedy of Greenwood and Dr. Barney Kennedy of Jackson, and a daughter, Anne.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, August 7, 1933
Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, woman Specialist in children's diseases, is in the Leflore County Jail today charged with murder in connection with the death of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy, local physician whose death from alleged poisoning occurred in a Jackson Hospital Sunday morning.
Dr. Dean was arrested at her home on Carrollton Avenue last night where she lives with her aunt. Dr. Dean, beyond saying to Sheriff Harry Smith and Deputy Sheriff Sam Clark, when the arrest was made, "well I'm surprised at that," made no statement and has made none today.
Dr. Dean has retained the firm of Gardner, Denman & Gardner, as counsel, it was said at the courthouse this morning.
No date for a preliminary hearing which will be held before County Judge M. F. Pierce has been discussed today.
The warrant on which Dr. Dean was arrested was issued on an affidavit made by District Attorney Arthur Jordan, who attended the funeral of Dr. Kennedy at Jackson yesterday, and who made the affidavit immediately upon his return to Greenwood about six o'clock last night.
The affidavit accusing Dr. Dean of administering the poison which was determined by physicians to be bi-chloride of mercury, was made on information in ante-mortem statements made by Dr. Kennedy to his brothers, when his knowledge of his own condition convinced him he had no chance to survive, courthouse officials declared this morning.
A dying declaration with figure largely in the prosecution officers declared at the courthouse today. According to the statement as told by officers today, Dr. Kennedy called his brothers to his bedside when he realized that he was going to die and discussed his business affairs with them, and told them the circumstances under which the poison is alleged to have been given in a drink of whiskey. According to the statement, he is said to have noticed a metallic taste in the liquor and that he attempted to rid himself of it as soon as possible. Driving his car to a side street he expelled some of the contents of his stomach. He then went to his room and drank a large quantity of salt water. The statement ended there. From Thursday night until Tuesday of last week he treated himself, battling alone against the effects of poison. On Tuesday he called in another physician and was ordered to a hospital for further treatment.
His death came Sunday morning at the Jackson Hospital.
The affidavit against Dr. Dean charges murder.
Under the Mississippi law the case could be tried in either Hinds County where the death occurred, or in Leflore County where the cause of the death is alleged to have been administered.
The accused doctor is native of Greenwood, a member of a pioneer family of Leflore County, educated at the University of Mississippi, University of Virginia.
She formerly had offices in Dr. Kennedy's Physicians and Surgeons building, until she left some months ago to take special courses in New York.
Fom The Greenwood Commonwealth, August 8, 1933
At noon eight jurors had been accepted by both state and defense to decide upon the guilt or innocence of Dr. Sarah Ruth Dean on a charge of murder in connection with the death last August of Dr. J. P. Kennedy, prominent Greenwood surgeon.
The eight veniremen who are now slated to occupy seats in the jury box during the trial of the woman doctor, a former associate of the man with whose murder she is accused, are: D. E. Strain, H. C. Strain, N. E. Gardner, Ralph E. Nolen, G. W. Palmertree, H. G. West, A. W. Wells, and R. W. Campbell.
Just before court recessed for noon today, the defense attorneys held a conference, after which they used up four of their remaining six peremptory challenges to eliminate four of the veniremen who had been examined and accepted for cause. Those objected to by the defense, and who were removed by peremptory challenges were: E. L. Stowers and Paul Stowers, W. S. Joyner and Robert Scales.
Thus indications again pointed to a possibility that a jury acceptable to counsel for both state and defense might be obtained this afternoon or shortly after court convenes tomorrow.
After the court had overruled a motion to allow the defense twelve additional peremptory challenges, due to the state removing two jurors that had earlier been accepted by both sides, Attorney Breland of the defense this morning entered a motion to declare a mistrial, which Judge S. F. Davis promptly overruled.
Mr. Breland yesterday afternoon also offered a motion for mistrial, which was overruled. This motion was on the grounds that the questioning of John T. Hicks, who was excused by the court after the state had reopened an examination of Hicks, in the presence of other jurors might lead to the prejudice and intimidation of those remaining on the panel.
Attorney Breland then asked for the privilege of re-examining the four jurors remaining on the panel that had been accepted by both counsels, and the court sustained this motion, but immediately thereafter overruled another motion by Mr. Breland to allow the defense ten additional challenges. Failing in this effort, Mr. Breland then tried for eight additional challenges, which was also overruled.
Judge Davis then ordered the jurymen to enter the courtroom, and the selection of jurymen to proceed. At this time there were only four mutually acceptable jurors remaining in the box, and eight others who had not yet been examined by the defense.
The defense re-examined the four who had been earlier accepted, but allowed them to remain on the jury. Following this the conference was held, in which it was decided to use four of the remaining six challenges.
The court room was filled late in the morning, and before the opening of the afternoon session practically all available seats were taken.
If the jury is obtained this afternoon, the examination of witnesses will probably begin Friday morning, as both the state and defense have expressed a desire to get the trial over with.
J. J. Truett, Emmett Morgan and A. R. Peoples were called, and accepted for cause, by the court early this afternoon.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 1, 1934
At three o'clock this afternoon the jury in the trial of Dr. Ruth Dean for the murder of Dr. J. P. Kennedy in Greenwood last August, lacked only one man of being completed, with the State and Defense having accepted eleven jurors.
The eight men approved by counsel for both sides yesterday afternoon were D. E. Strain and H. S. Strain, planters from Minter City, H. G. West, planter of Schlater, W. R. Gardner, planter of Greenwood, Ralph E. Nolen, CWA worker of Swiftown, G. W. Palmertree, farmer of Swiftown, A. W. Wells, farmer of Minter City and R. W. Campbell of Greenwood.
Four others called from the regular juries for the week after the list of 140 special veniremen was exhausted yesterday afternoon were W. L. Stevens, Itta Bena night watchman, J. J. Linebarger, Schalter farmer, J. N. Truitt, Minter City druggist and Leo Sauce, Greenwood railroad man. All these with the exception of Sauce were agreed upon by both state and defense.
The defense attorneys tried to get Sauce excused for cause, but upon failing in this used one of the remaining peremptory challenges.
Following Sauce, R. E. Young, J. A. Wall, V. H. Brock, and A. J. Brewerton, all members of the week's regular petit juries, were called and excused by the state for cause.
E. B. Mitchell, of Itta Bena, was next called, and the state accepted him, but after lengthy questioning, defense attorneys brought out the fact that Mitchell had a slightly fixed opinion in the case, and he was excused by the court.
W. C. Taylor, of Greenwood, was called next, and he was also excused by the court. This left only six men for the selection of the remaining juror, but attorneys were confident that a suitable juror could be found in the list.
Attorneys for both state and defense agreed that upon the selection of the twelfth juror this afternoon, a recess would be asked until tomorrow morning at nine o'clock when the taking of testimony will begin.
Crowds, comprised about equally of men and women, filled the courtroom late in the morning, and before the beginning of the afternoon session the SRO sign was out and county officials were barring other spectators from entering.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 2, 1934
The taking of testimony in the trial of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, pretty, olive complexioned 33-year-old child specialist charged with the murder of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy in connection with an alleged whiskey highball party the two held on the night of July 27 last, was underway this afternoon following the acceptance of R. B. Blanchard, planter, Sidon, by opposing counsel at 10:30 this morning.
At the opening of the afternoon session Mr. Gardner called upon the state to make a formal statement of what it expected to prove. The motion was overruled by Judge Davis.
The first witness called by the state was August Thalheimer, who occupied a sleeping porch with Dr. J. P. Kennedy. Thalheimer testified that on the night of July 27, 1933, the night the state charges Dr. Kennedy received a fatal dose of poison, that the physician was called several times by a woman, and that after midnight the physician dressed himself and left the sleeping quarters in response to one of the calls.
Thalheimer testified that when Kennedy came to his residence at 7:30 on July 27, 1933 his condition both physically and mentally was normal and that Kennedy was jolly. Kennedy then left the house at 7:45. Thalheimer stated that he left home, returning at 10 o'clock and found Dr. Kennedy at home in bed.
Mr. Gardner, of the defense counsel, objected the question by Attorney Witty of the prosecution. Mr. Gardner stated that the defense is in the dark as to what the state attempts to prove except by the newspapers.
"The testimony," said Mr. Gardiner "attempts to corroborate a statement that Dr. Kennedy died from poisoning. This testimony is inadmissible before the fact is shown that Dr. Kennedy died from poisoning."
Immediately following the acceptance of Blanchard, defense attorney J.J. Breland entered a motion of mistrial, the third the defense has sought to have sustained during the six days in which attorneys have rejected over 200 men summoned to hear and reach a decision in the sensational case.
The motion was based on the same grounds as were the two earlier motions, the defense contending that never had the state tended them a full panel for examination.
Judge S. F. Davis promptly overruled the motion, as he did the following four made by Breland the first again requesting an additional twelve peremptory challenges; the second ten additional peremptory challenges; the third an additional eight peremptory challenges and the final motion requesting an additional two peremptory challenges.
Following this legal move made on the part of the defense to either gain a mistrial or remove the final juror from the box, Judge Davis called all attorneys to the bench, telling them to be ready for the taking of testimony by two o'clock this afternoon.
Both defense and prosecution preferred recessing until Monday allowing them the entire weekend to confer with the several witnesses each side will present in seeking to convict or prove innocent the comely young woman of the crime with which the State of Mississippi charges her.
The jury, and unusually good one in the opinion of courthouse habitues and local barristers is composed of the following:
Several times during the course of the six days of jury selection the several hundred spectators have been regaled with laughter as the many who reside in Minter City or nearby that small town had been seated in the jury box.
Five of the final jury accepted by both sides shortly before 11 a.m. are from that city, causing one Greenwood citizen to remark that Minter city could certainly be called "The City that Was" until the conclusion of the Dean trial.
The jury's average age is 38, the oldest member being J. J. Linebarger, planter of Schlater who gave his age as 65 and waived privilege of being excused because for being above 60.
The youngest member is Ralph E. Nolen, who for the past few weeks has been doing special forest work under the auspices of the CWA program.
By order of Sheriff Harry Smith, the balcony in the quarter- century old Leflore County Courthouse has been fumigated and Negroes barred from attending the trial, these seats being reserved for the crowds that have milled about in the corridor just outside the courtroom door on the second floor and in the downstairs offices and corridors, unable to gain entrance to the court room with SRO signs being removed yesterday afternoon.
Though the court recessed until two o'clock this afternoon shortly before 11 o'clock following the acceptance of the final juror, approximately 50 men and women remained in their seats, having brought their lunches with them.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 3, 1934
Locked within the mind of Judge S. F. Davis, presiding Justice in the trial whereby the state seeks the conviction of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean on a charge of murder, is contained the knowledge of a ruling on which it appears the case may possibly turn.
Judge Davis has given no indication of how he will rule when first the state and then the defense seek to introduce evidence of the final fatal illness of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy, Greenwood surgeon, for whose death the woman specialist in children's diseases is now being tried.
It was Judge Davis who made the decision in what is now the majority opinion of Mississippi's double decked Supreme Court on the now famed "privileged communication" statute which either side may invoke in the trial to prevent the testimony of physicians who attended the dead physician during his lifetime.
Once already in the early stages of the trial the defense, when it sought to inspect the records of the Baptist Hospital in Jackson where Dr. Kennedy died found the statute barring its way. It may be "turn about" when and if the state should attempt to prove by attending physicians that death was due to poisoning.
None of the courts have held, however, that there is any privileged status for expert examinations after death, and this state may have no difficulty in introducing testimony as to the postmortem examination.
A "battle of the law books" is looked for as soon as the testimony is opened. For the Mississippi law despite the ruling Judge Davis in a previous case in which he admitted the testimony of physicians is in a chaotic condition.
The Mississippi statute reads thusly: "All communications made to a physician or surgeon by a patient under his charge or by one seeking professional advice, are hereby declared to be privileged, and such physician or surgeon shall not be required to disclose the same in any legal proceeding, except at the instance of the patient."
Down in Humphreys County in 1926, a man named Frank Davenport was indicted for killing with a knife and tried on a charge of murder. Davenport claimed that the cutting was accidental and called the physicians who attended his victim to testify in his behalf. Judge Davis permitted the doctors' testimony, but nevertheless Davenport was convicted and appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court. First one division heard the case, and then the entire court went into a huddle and heard it again.
They divided evenly on the question of affirming the case, and thus the decision of Judge Davis was not reversed. Davenport's conviction was upheld, but the law in regard to the status of privileged communications was left in an unsettled state.
Three of the judges held that Judge Davis erred in admitting the doctor's testimony and rendered opinions for reversals. Two of the judges held that the privilege did not apply in criminal cases. The other judge held that the privilege did apply in criminal cases, but that the Davenport conviction should be upheld because in that particular case the admission of the testimony in view of the other evidence did not harm the defendant.
In so far as applying the rule to the present is concerned the three members of the court who would have reversed the Davenport case are still members of that body. The judge who held that the evidence was inadmissible, but who refused to reverse the Davenport case is also still a member of the Supreme Court, while only one of the two judges who ruled that the statute did not apply to criminal cases remains upon the bench.
Judge Davis has not yet indicated how he will rule when the matter is presented to him in the pending trial, but he faces a Supreme Court with four members committed to the proposition that the testimony of a doctor is not admissible unless the privilege is waived by the patient.
If the three of the four should hold to their ruling, and the one of the four who dissented on the facts in the Davenport case the side that admission of the testimony was harmful to the defendant, continue in his opinion, the state would be faced with possible reversal on appeal.
The question may be raised during the trial that the legal representatives of the air of the deceased doctor can release the privilege. And again the courts are not clear.
The statute makes the privilege personal to the patient, and is silent as to other persons.
Once in Mississippi it was held that the grandmother of a child twelve years old could waive the privilege for the ch ild, but in that case the child was in court and had testified and the Supreme Court held that the child insofar as it was able had waived the privilege. The court further held that a different question might have been presented had the testimony in that particular case been harmful to the child instead of beneficial.
The point of law is an interesting one. Much may depend upon it for either side or both in the pending case.
Both prosecution and defense have been digging into the books, and profound arguments will be forthcoming when the question arises as it is bound to arise early in the hearing of the evidence.
Meanwhile Judge Davis pulls at his pipe, and preserves his sphinx-like attitude on a ruling which may come to be a leading issue in the trial.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 3, 1934
That Dr. J. Preston Kennedy accused Dr. Ruth being of giving him poison in a drink of whiskey, and then called for a minister to pray that he might live until his wife and child arrived at his bedside was related to the court in the trial of Dr. Dean this afternoon. The jury was retired while the statement was being related by Dr. Henry Kennedy, brother of the dead surgeon, and Judge Davis has not yet passed upon the competency of the evidence.
Taking the stand as the second witness of the afternoon with attorney Witty questioning the state immediately launched into the statement which they expect to qualify as a dying declaration and thus establish Dr. Dean's responsibility in the death of Dr. Kennedy.
Dr. Henry Kennedy described the close association of himself and brother, using adjoining offices until both moved to Dr. Kennedy's Physician and Surgeons building which they were occupying at the time of the death of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy.
Dr. Kennedy testified that his brother died in a Jackson Hospital on Sunday morning, August 5. He told of taking his brother to the hospital on the previous Tuesday.
Witty asked: "On Wednesday night August 2, did you hear your brother making a statement as to what called his death?" " Yes Sir" Dr. Kennedy said.
All of the defense attorneys were on their feet to object and the jury was retired while the statement was being introduced.
Dr. Kennedy said, "Miss Cates, the nurse came in and called me telling me that my brother wanted to see me."
"When I entered the room, Barney my brother was crying. I asked him what was the matter." He said Preston wanted to talk to us. "Preston told the nurse that he would excuse her. Dr. Hand came in."
"As we walked to the bed, Barney was on one side and I was on the other. Dr. hand was at the foot of the bed." "Preston said, 'Boys my time has come. I'm going to die. I want to talk to you before I die.' Barney was crying. Preston said 'Don't do that'."
In his statement Dr. Kennedy said Preston told him and his brother Dr. Dean gave him a drink of whiskey with poison in it, and that was what had caused his illness and approaching death.
Dr. Henry Kennedy stated that on the night of August 2, the Wednesday night before his death, Dr. Preston Kennedy called him and his brother Barney. Dr. Preston told Henry he wanted him to look after his family after he was gone, and to take care of his insurance policies which were about to lapse.
"I had forgotten the combination of the safe," Dr. Henry Kennedy said, "and Preston told me I would find it in his office on a baby chart. He told Barney and me that he wanted us to see that the doctors and nurses who had done everything they could for him were well-paid."
"When he discussed business affairs was there any other question asked him," Dr. Henry was asked.
Barney said, "Preston how did this happen?" Preston said, "Dr. Ruth Dean gave me a drink of whiskey with poison in it. I believe it was mercury. Dr. Dean had been worrying me, especially by calling me at night. That night she called me several times and said that she would not leave Greenwood until I came to see her. I went to her house in my car, and we came back to my office."
"Barney was surprised," Dr. Henry Kennedy said, "that Preston and Dr. Dean went back to his office," and he continued quoting his brother as follows: "Preston said: 'She had some liquor with her in a black bottle. We went to my office and talked a while and took several drinks.' 'Finally she said, 'Let's have a farewell drink.' 'I went to get some water and when I came back the drinks were poured. I took a drink and noticed a metallic taste. I took Dr. Dean home hurriedly and then turned down Avenue I and stopped my car and made myself vomit.'"
Dr. Henry Kennedy said that that Preston Kennedy told him that he then came back to his office and took everything he knew of to rid himself of the poison and that he thought he had succeeded in ridding himself of it.
Dr. Henry Kennedy continued his statement by saying that Preston then discussed more of his business affairs and called for the family.
"Did anyone ask any further question as to Dr. Ruth Dean." Mr. Witty asked the witness.
The witness replied, "Barney asked what do you want us to do with the woman?"
"What did Preston reply?"
"Preston said, 'I know how you feel. I'd feel the same way but don"t do anything that would keep us three from meeting in heaven.'"
"Did any of you leave the room before the statement was completed", the witness was asked.
"No sir", was the reply.
"After this statement was made did any minister visit the room," was the question.
"Yes sir, Rev. Wayne Allison superintendent of the Baptist hospital. After the family came Preston asked him to have a prayer."
"Who called Allison?" Was the question.
"I did", said the witness. "To pray that Preston would live until his wife and child could reach his bedside."
The witness then described the scene at the bedside, with the family present and Dr. Allison quoted scripture and rendered the prayer in accordance with Preston Kennedy's wishes.
"It's all clear in my mind," said Dr. Henry Kennedy, "I never had anything like that happen to me in my life ."
The witness said, "Preston referred to us, Barney, himself and I as the Three Musketeers, all for one and one for all, and said that it had fallen to his lot to go first."
"When he asked you to take care of his wife and baby did he refer to any time when he wanted you to do that," Mr. Witty asked.
"Yes sir. After his death", the witness replied.
The statement said the witness was heard by himself, his brother Barney, and Dr. W. F. Bond, attending physician of Jackson.
"I'm literally burning up."
Over and over these words were used by Dr. J. Preston Kennedy during the five days he was sick at the home of Mrs. A. Weiler following the night of July 27, 1933, according to the testimony of Mrs. Weiler in the trial of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, who is charged with murder in connection with the death of Dr. Kennedy.
Mrs. Weiler was on the witness stand when the court recessed over the noon hour.
Over the repeated objections of the defense counsel, Mrs. Weiler told of the agony Dr. Kennedy suffered during the five days, and in her two hours of examination reiterated again and again the words "I'm literally burning up," which were uttered by the stricken doctor.
Mrs. Weiler was presented to the defense for cross- examination just prior to the noon recess.
The entire morning session of the court today was consumed with the completion of the testimony of August Thalheimer who occupied a sleeping porch with Dr. Kennedy, and who testified Saturday that the dead surgeon was called over the telephone four times on the night of July 27, 1933, and finally dressed and shaved himself about midnight and left the house.
Thalheimer stated in his testimony that he next saw Dr. Kennedy about 4:30 in the morning when the witness was aroused by noise of the doctor in the bathroom. At that time Dr. Kennedy was vomiting and moaning.
Thalheimer's testimony told of the constant use of ice caps and cracked ice by the stricken doctor, which continued until Kennedy was taken to the Jackson Hospital five days later.
During the entire time of his illness at the Weiler home, Thalheimer testified Dr. Kennedy was unable to eat anything, and that he was vomiting every three or four minutes.
Prosecution developed the fact during the testimony that Dr. Kennedy was not drunk on the evening of July 27, 1933, and Thalheimer testified that the only time in fifteen months during which Dr. Kennedy resided at the Weiler home, that he had ever smelled liquor on his breath was the morning he came home suffering from what the state charges was his fatal dose of poisoning.
The defense sought to exclude all of the testimony of Thalheimer except the portion which told of Dr. Kennedy's death.
The motion to exclude was overruled, and the defense excused Thalheimer from cross-examination, reserving the right to recall him later in the trial. Mrs. A. Weiler was the next witness called.
"When did Dr. Kennedy start living at your home?" Attorney Witty, who is conducting the examination for the state asked the witness.
"In the early part of April, 1932," Mrs. Weiler replied.
Mrs. Weiler told of seeing Dr. Kennedy early on the evening of July 27, 1933, and that he was not drinking.
"What was his condition?" asked Mr. Witty.
"He was very tired," Mrs. Weiler replied.
Dr. Kennedy ate a light supper at the Weiler home, and the witness did not see him again until the morning of July 28, when the doctor was vomiting continually and complaining of "literally burning up."
"What indications did Dr. Kennedy give of being ill?" Mr. Witty asked.
"He was very nauseated," was the reply. "He vomited frequently. I emptied the jar and the vomit contained a little blood and was very dark in color."
"During the five days did you see him vomit more than once?"
"He vomited about every five minutes" was the reply.
"Was there ever any change in the color of the vomit?" The witness was asked.
"No sir," was the reply to Mr. Witty's question.
"What other indications did Dr. Kennedy give of suffering," was a question.
"He pounded the pillows," Mrs. Weiler stated. " He moaned continually, and complained of "literally burning up."
The state objected to the testimony of statements made by Dr. Kennedy, but Judge Davis ruled that his exclamations of suffering were competent and admitted the testimony.
"Dr. Kennedy's face showed suffering. His mouth was drawn, and he pounded the pillows." Mrs. Weiler repeated in response to Mr. Witty's questions.
"He said that he felt there was something in his throat. He gagged and vomited, and said, 'This should certainly rid me of what ever is in me' ", Mrs. Weiler told the jury.
Mrs. Weiler told of the use of cracked ice by the stricken doctor, both internally externally and said that about 100 pounds of ice were brought daily for the sick man.
"Did you ever have occasion to wipe his face?" Mr. Witty questioned.
"I did," Mrs. Weiler said. "I wiped it several times. It was bathed in cold perspiration. His face was cold and clammy. I assisted in changing his pajama jacket which was wet at times with cold perspiration."
The witness substantiated Thalheimer's statement that Dr. Kennedy during the entire five days never swallowed anything without vomiting immediately.
"Have you ever seen a drunken man?" She was asked.
"Have you ever seen Dr. Kennedy under the influence of liquor?"
"Positively, No." she replied.
"Had you ever smelled liquor on his breath?"
"No." Was the reply.
And the witness said that Dr. Kennedy was often a guest at her home and that she never saw them take but two small drinks during that time.
Court recessed at the conclusion of Mrs. Weiler's direct testimony and the defense asked for a conference as to her cross- examination.
The court room was filled again this morning. More than half the spectators were from out of town, and probably a hundred women remained in the courtroom eating their lunches over the noon hour in order to maintain their seats.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 5, 1934
That he noticed a growing relationship between his brother Preston and Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, who is now facing a jury on trial on a charge of murder in connection with his brother's death, was detailed to the jury in Circuit Court here this afternoon.
That on one occasion in May or June, Mrs. Bessie Barry Kennedy would not return to her home to spend the night after waiting at Dr. Henry Kennedy's home for Dr. Preston Kennedy's return from a medical meeting at Drew was stated to the jury in response to questions from District Attorney Arthur Jordan.
On this occasion the witness stated that his brother, Dr. George Baskerville and Dr. Dean had gone to do to Drew or Belzoni to attend a medical meeting, and that Dr. Preston Kennedy's wife and baby were at his home at the Weiler apartment awaiting the doctor's return.
The witness declared that he saw his brother's car pass the apartments with the three in the car, and that later he saw the car turn into the driveway at the Kennedy Physicians and Surgeons building, and saw Dr. Dean rush out of the car and go into the building and saw Dr. Kennedy go in with her. The witness, and Mrs. Kennedy waited thirty or forty minutes until they saw the pair come out of the building, get in the car, and turn west on Washington Street, although the direct way to Dr. Dean's home would have been east.
Dr. Preston Kennedy called him from his own home later, and asked where his wife and baby were.
"I told him that were at my home," the witness said, "and he came right over."
"Did they return home with him," the attorney asked.
"They did not," the witness replied.
Questioned by the District Attorney, Dr. Henry Kennedy said that Dr. Ruth Dean took her offices in the Kennedy Building a few weeks after the opening of the building in 1929.
"Did she continue there?" The attorney asked.
"No, she moved in December or November, 1930."
"Did you have the occasion to observe the relations between your brother and Dr. Ruth Dean?"
"Yes sir. It was very friendly. I noticed the two cars parked at the building late in the afternoon several times."
"What was the usual quitting time?"
"Around five o'clock."
"Whose cars do you mean?"
"Preston's and Dr. Dean's."
"Anything else you noticed in their relationships?"
"I noticed the two cars there several times on Sunday afternoon."
"Anything else that came to your notice?"
"In May or June 1930 there was a medical meeting either at Drew or Belzoni. Preston, Dr. Baskerville and Dr. Dean had gone to the meeting and Preston's wife and baby were at my house awaiting their return. They came in about 11:30. I heard the car pass my apartment, saw Dr. Baskerville, Dr. Dean and Preston in it. Saw the car again a few minutes later at the Medical Building."
"What did you see?"
"I saw the car drive to the east end of the medical building and stop. Saw Preston get out and open the door. I started over there. Dr. Dean got out of the car and rushed out of the car into the building. Preston closed the door and went into the building. I stopped and went home and told my wife. We came outside and waited with Mrs. Kennedy about thirty or forty minutes."
"What happened then."
"They came out, got in the car and drove off."
"They headed north on Henderson Street and then west on Washington Street."
"When you next hear from your brother?"
"He called me from his home in a few minutes later and asked where his wife and baby were. I told them that they were at my home and he came right over."
"Did they go home with him?"
"Where did they stay?"
"At my home."
"How many nights?"
At this juncture, Mr. Jordan told the court that he had some letters he wanted the witness to identify but that he did not know which ones he could identify and asked leave to confer with the witness and a recess was granted for that purpose.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 6, 1934
Evidence in the trial of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, charged with murder in connection with the death of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy last August was "second hand" to the audience which again packed the Leflore County Courthouse, and was "new" only to the jury which came into court at 10:45 this morning after being shut up in their room since 3:35 yesterday afternoon.
Dr. Henry Kennedy, brother of Preston Kennedy, was on the stand again during the morning, and gave again his evidence of the statement made by his brother on August 2, 1933, 4 days prior to his death.
The state offered the statement as a dying declaration charging that Dr. Dean gave the dead physician a drink of poison liquor. The court and audience heard the statement yesterday afternoon in the absence of the jury. Judge Davis ruled that the statement was admissible.
Court was delayed in starting this morning, due to the absence of Attorney Fred Witty who is conducting the examination of witnesses for the state. Mr. Witty was under the care of a doctor for treatment to his throat, and arrived in the court room about ten o'clock.
Prior to Mr. Witty's appearance the defense counsel had made, withdrawn, and remade several motions in regard to the testimony of Dr. Kennedy. Judge Davis overruled all of the motions, however, even when counsel was unable to agree between themselves as to the proper form of motions to the court.
Henry Kennedy was the only witness called during the morning, and his testimony went to the jury in disjointed fashion, due to the constant objections of Attorney J. J. Breland of the defense. Mr. Breland was objecting to every question asked by the prosecution, after the court had ruled that a ge neral objection to all of the testimony would not be entertained.
Dr. Kennedy's testimony followed the same course as that of yesterday afternoon, with some of the features excluded by the court's rulings.
The witness told that on Wednesday night August 2, he was called by the nurse and told that Preston wanted to talk with him. He came in to the sickroom. His brother Barney was on one side of the bed, the witness on the other and Dr. W.F. Hand attending physician on the other.
"Preston said," the witness testified, 'Boys my time has come. I'm going to die, and I want to talk with you before I go unconscious.' Barney and I began to cry. Preston said, 'Boys, don't do that. You make it hard on me and you make it hard on yourselves. We have been the Three Musketeers; we have always stood together. It has fallen my lot to be the first one to go. I want to talk over some things with you first. Henry, I want you to take care of and look after my wife and baby. You have always been kind to her. They are well provided for with insurance. I would like for them to have your better judgment about things.'"
The witness said over objections of the defense that Preston told him where he could find the combination of the safe. He then repeated the accusation against Dr. Dean.
"Barney said to him, 'tell us how this thing happened.' And he said, 'Dr. Dean gave me a drink of whiskey with poison in it. I believe it had mercury in it.'" the witness said.
Defense counsel objected to that portion of the testimony which described what Preston Kennedy believed, and the objection was confessed by counsel for the state through District Attorney Arthur Jordan. The jury was instructed to disregard that portion of the testimony.
That portion of witness's statement which related that Dr. Dean had been worrying Preston Kennedy was also stricken from the record, but the court admitted evidence that Dr. Preston Kennedy had told his brothers that Dr. Dean called him several times on the night of July 27 and that he had finally dressed and taken her back to his office where they had several drinks.
"Preston said," the witness related, "that he was very tired and that she said 'Well, let's have a farewell drink.' Preston went to get some water and when he came back found the drinks were already poured. He noticed a strong metallic astringent taste and hurriedly took Dr. Dean home."
The witness attempted to tell that Preston Kennedy had driven down Avenue I and gagged himself to free himself from the poison, but on objection the testimony was ruled out.
A final message from Preston Kennedy to his wife, through the dying doctor's mother was related to the jury just before court adjourned for the noon recess.
Henry Kennedy called the family, he said, after the statement which had been testified to, and said: "Preston said to his mother, 'I've been a good boy haven't I? Tell Bessie Barry that I still love her and always will.'
The dying doctor was given a blood transfusion with Henry Kennedy supplying the blood on the next day, but was in a stupor most of the time thereafter until his death, the witness told the jury.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 6, 1934
Love letters in a murder trial held the center of interest in today's progress of the state's case against Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, Greenwood baby doctor, alleged to have served a fatal poison in whiskey last July to her associate, Dr. John Preston Kennedy, chief surgeon of the Greenwood clinic.
District Attorney Arthur Jordan, of the prosecution, offered a batch of letters purportedly written to Dr. Kennedy by Dr. Dean during their professional association. These missives were held awaiting positive identification of the signature.
One of them, signed "Ruth," was dated July 27, the day of the night on which Dr. Kennedy charged in his dying statement that Dr. Dean served him a poisoned drink of whiskey.
Counsel assigned jealousy as a motive for the alleged act as Dr. Kennedy was making plans to re-wed his wife who had divorced him.
The July 27 letter stated: "Am planning to leave Sunday and I want to turn over something to you."
In return A. F. Gardner of the defense counsel, produced a package of letters which he said Dr. Kennedy had written to Dr. Dean, ranging in length from one page to nine.
Some of the letters were shown to have been received by the woman physician while she was serving as an associate at a Lewes, Del., hospital, during a separation of the Kennedys but prior to the granting of divorce.
The last letter was dated July 21, six days prior to the alleged midnight farewell meeting of Kennedy and Dean in the Greenwood clinic where witnesses quoted Dr. Kennedy as charging the "farewell drink" was served.
These letters were introduced by the defense merely for identification of the signature by Dr. Henry Kennedy, brother of Dr. Preston Kennedy, who has been on the stand since Monday afternoon.
Mr. Gardner said the contents of the letters would be reserved unto the defense takes the stand when Dr. Dean is expected to testify.
As the testimony offered by the state advanced today the defense continued attack on the deathbed statement of Dr. Kennedy, and indicated they were laying the basis for a claim of suicide or an overdose of opiates.
It was brought out in the testimony that Dr. Preston Kennedy had "less than $3000 in the bank" when he died and that his brother, Dr. Henry Kennedy had administered restoratives to him in a previous illness.
The brother described the deceased surgeon as a man who would take a drink, but denied that he drank to excess.
Dr. W.F Hand, of Jackson, who administered to Dr. Kennedy in his last illness in the Jackson Hospital, is expected to take the stand later.
The last conscious words of Dr. Kennedy were related today out of court by Sam I. Osborn, a Greenwood attorney, and a close friend of the surgeon who gave of his blood in an unsuccessful transfusion.
"I cannot go back with you old boy, I'm going the wrong way," the attorney said Kennedy told him when he was at death's door.
"While I did not reach Jackson until after the doctor made his alleged dying statement," said Mr. Osborn, "nevertheless the doctor recognized me and expressed his appreciation of my visit to him and his affections for me."
Mr. Osborn is a law partner of Fred Witty, who is engaged by the Kennedy family as special counsel to assist the prosecution. His status in the case has been questioned by counsel for Dr. Dean, but he said he was not actively engaged in the prosecution because of his intimate friendship for Kennedy and the possibility that he would be called as a witness.
Practically the entire afternoon yesterday in the entire session this morning were consumed by defense attorneys in having Dr. Henry Kennedy identify the signature on alleged love letters from Dr. Preston Kennedy to Dr. Dean, which will be introduced when the defense opens its case.
Dr. Dean, after nearly two weeks in the courtroom, sat calm and expressionless as her attorney, J. J. Breland, handed letter after letter to Dr. Henry Kennedy, asking each time: "Doctor, I ask you who's writing that is."
Scanning the pages casually, Henry replied without variation:"Preston's", and handed them back to the attorney.
At noon today the defense had had Dr. Kennedy identify the handwriting in 113 letters as that of his deceased brother, and attorneys announced that others would be produced for identification this afternoon.
The state likewise has introduced letters for introduction, allegedly from Dr. Dean to Dr. Kennedy, but up until noon today had not identified the signatures "Ruth" as Dr. Dean's handwriting.
The trial was halted temporarily shortly before noon, when one of the jurors, R.B. Blanchard, the twelfth man selected, was stricken with an attack of indigestion.
Dr. George Baskerville was called in and Juror Blanchard returned to the box a few minutes later. Mr. Blanchard suffered a similar attack last Saturday afternoon.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 8, 1934
Maintaining utter silence though her council talked freely about her case, Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, pretty, 33 year old slender, brunette, olive complexion child specialist, is on trial before Judge S. F. Davis in circuit court on a murder charge in connection with the death of Dr. John Preston Kennedy, prominent Delta physician and former professional associate, who the state charges died from a poison whiskey highball.
The state will demand a verdict of guilty to the charge, District Attorney Arthur Jordan, prosecuting, announced, while A. F. Gardner, chief counsel, vigorously asserted that the state "will have to prove it."
"We shall ask for no quarter nor will we give any," said Gardner.
Dr. Dean, who has been at liberty under bond since before indictment on the murder charge, was ready for the trial, but she has remained in seclusion attended by a trained nurse.
At the time of Dr. Kennedy's death he was reported to be planning to re-wed his former wife-they were divorced-who is here for the trial.
The former wife, Mrs. Bessie Barry Kennedy, made a hurried air trip from Panama to Jackson, Miss., at the time of the illness of Dr. Kennedy, but arrived several hours after he had passed away at Baptist Hospital there.
The prosecuting attorney said that it had not been decided whether she would be summoned as a witness, but announced that she was in Greenwood.
The state charges that poison was administered to Dr. Kennedy last July during a midnight visit he made to the residence of Dr. Dean.
For five days, the physician said he attempted to treat himself, but failing in this, he reported his condition to close friends and was taken to Jackson for tre atment where he died on August 6.
It is the contention of the prosecution that Dr. Kennedy made a dying declaration to his two brothers, Dr. Henry Kennedy and Dr. Barney Kennedy, alleging to them that Dr. Dean served him a poison highball.
The defense in discussing the case denies the charge and contends that if there was poison it could have occurred from other sources.
They sought to inspect the hospital records to determine whether Dr. Kennedy was administered opiates that might have affected his mind in his dying condition, but a state statute barred the records from review under a "privileged" provision.
Sheriff Harry Smith is on hand daily with two deputies in order to see that the expected crowds would stage no demonstration, but thus far none has occurred.
Dr. Dean appeared with her attorneys, A. F. Gardner, Sr., Richard Denman and J. J. Breland, Sumner. Her friend, Miss Taylor, of Dover, Delaware who immediately came to Greenwood to be with Dr. Dean, whom she had met in an Eastern Hospital, was also present as was the defendant's aunt, Mrs. J. R. Boyles and her cousin Mr. Noye Boyles.
Dr. Dean was stylishly dressed in a new shade of brown, with coat of lighter shade and matching hat and hose.
She smiled at acquaintances as she entered, taking her seat at the defense table in front of the Judge's bench and facing the jury box. Later in the morning it appeared that she was tiring under the strain and was often observed to wince as Judge Davis questioned the jury.
The deceased's family, including his mother and father, Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Kennedy of Pinola, a small village in Simpson County were present for the trial.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, February 29, 1934
Opening defense arguments in the murder trial of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, J.J. Breland of her staff of counsel told the jury today the state had "failed to prove its charge that she was with Dr. John Preston Kennedy on the night of July 27, 1933, that she poured a drink of whiskey laden with mercury and that she induced him to drink it."
"She has flatly denied on the stand she kept the rendezvous," Breland said. "She has told you she was at home that night preparing her trousseau to wed another lover, Captain Franklin C. Maull."
Directing a bitter attack on the testimony of Kennedy's relatives that the surgeon on his deathbed accused of Dr. Dean of poisoning him, Breland said: "You heard them repeat that deathbed story six times, word for word, comma for comma, you must know that attorneys test the truth of such testimony by listing for variations in the account."
"Can you say beyond a reasonable doubt that was ever made by Kennedy, and can you say if he did make it that he was rational, that he knew what he was doing?"
Dr. Dean, the 35 year-old defendant, listened at ease, leaning back in her chair. She had chatted freely with friends for a half-hour in the courtroom before the jury was brought in this morning, perhaps for its last day in court.
Her counsel had rearranged the chairs in the enclosure so that she sat somewhat farther away from members of the Kennedy family - the dead surgeon's aged parents, his divorced widow and his two brothers, who wept bitterly during the state arguments yesterday.
The judge canceled last night session in order to attend the Ole Miss - Mississippi State boxing matches. "There are many mysteries in life we do not understand. Why a man with a loving wife should go outside his home to seek love is one of those mysteries, but it has been going on since time began and will continue until time ends."
Dr. Dean testified that she loved both Kennedy and Captain Maull, ship pilot of Lewes, Delaware, but that she had broken her engagement to Kennedy to marry Maull several weeks before the surgeon succumbed to a strange ten-day illness.
At 11 o'clock, the defense argument was interrupted when juror A. W.Wells complained his eyes were bothering him.
"I can't see," Wells told a bailiff, rubbing his eyes.
Presiding Judge S. F. Davis quickly called a recess, retiring the jury and leaving the bench to go into their quarters with them. A physician was called.
Wells' trouble was described as minor by the physician and the jury came back into the box after a 15 minute delay.
"We don't know how Kennedy died." Breland resumed. "We don't know what was in his mind , in his thoughts, but we do know he was worried over finances and other affairs. He could have committed suicide, as many others have done."
"Why does one physician stand alone as the only one that thought Kennedy had mercury poisoning when every other physician failed to detect mercury poison symptoms?"
Breland concluded his argument after speaking for two hours and court recessed for lunch, with Dick Denman scheduled to continue the defense presentation this afternoon.
Judge Davis said a night session would be held in an effort to get the case to the jury.
"We'll go on through tonight," he said. "They're putting on a show over at the high school tonight with 50 or 60 pretty girls in it and I'm sure hate to miss it, but I guess I'll have to."
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, March 3, 1934
Juror A. W. Wells, sitting in the murder trial of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, charged with the alleged poison murder of Dr. John Preston Kennedy, was reported as seriously ill during the noon recess in the trial today.
The juror, 26 years old, interrupted final arguments during the morning when he complained of eye trouble and was given a 15 minute treatment. A more thorough examination at noon led to an announcement by Dr. J.C. Adams that the complaint was graver that had first been thought.
"It appears to be a general condition. He has been on this trial for five weeks", the physician said.
"I have advised the attorneys to speed up the remaining arguments," Judge S.F. Davis announced when court reconvened.
Judge Davis told newsmen the physician "wasn't sure whether Wells had mastoid trouble are not, but we don't want to take any chances."
Wells, who had to be assisted when the jury was taken to a restaurant for lunch at noon, came into court this afternoon and took his regular seat, but a cot and easy chair were held in readiness for him if either should be needed. It was explained Wells had to go to the restaurant with the other jurors under Mississippi law prescribing that the panel of 12 must remain together at all times.
Twelve relatives and close friends took seats in a double row with Dr. Dean in the crowded space by the defense table.
The jury faced an unbroken crescent shaped line of relatives and friends of both Dr. Dean and Dr. Preston Kennedy.
A hush fell over the courtroom as Dick Denman began his argument in a tone pitched with the emotion.
"We don't ask sympathy for this little girl," Denman began, pointing to Dr. Dean. "All we want is a fair, impartial decision, for we know the state of Mississippi has failed utterly to prove the guilt of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean."
"Dr. Dean got on the witness stand because she wanted the world to know the truth about this case. She didn't have to get on the stand. We could have rested our case."
"But no, SHE WANTED YOU AND AMERICA TO KNOW THAT SHE WAS INNOCENT!" Denman shouted, facing the packed courtroom.
"The state turned its sails when they placed that Negro boy, Toodlums, on the stand to insinuate something about a white woman. It was a desperate move on the part of the state to place a Negro on the stand to testify against a white woman. I resent it and you resent it and the womanhood of Leflore County and the South resent it," Denman, former prosecutor in Tallahatchie County exclaimed loudly.
The Negro testified the operating room at the Kennedy medical building was in disarray after the night of the alleged highball party. Denman said the state last summer charged that Kennedy received the lethal drink at Ruth Dean's house.
"Now, months later they say it happend at the Kennedy medical building. You jurymen read the newspapers last August and can remember that."
District Attorney Jordan interrupted, "Are you going to argue this case on what appeared in the newspapers? If you are, I'll do the same," he declared.
Denman switched to another phase.
"Why did they wait three days and then they got Kennedy's body and examine his organs if there was so sure he had been poisoned? Why did they take out his organs and cut them up --" his voice lowered, "just like they would trim a hog?"
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, March 3, 1934
"Guilty as charged, but fixing the punishment at life imprisonment: was the verdict in the case of Dr. Dean at 10:50 today after an all night deliberation.
This verdict brought a climax to the five-weeks-old trial of the comely 35-year-old child specialist charged allegedly on Dr. Kennedy's death-bed with having given the surgeon a "drink of whiskey with poison in it" which he believed was bichloride of mercury.
The case went to the jury at 8:50 o'clock last night after impassioned pleas on the part of attorneys for both sides. Defense attorneys led with pleas that the state had not shown that Dr. Kennedy had been with Dr. Dean on the night of the alleged "highball party"; furthermore that the direct cause of Dr. Kennedy's death had not been proven; and that the defense had proven by living witnesses that Dr. Dean had not even seen the deceased on that night.
The state's attorneys plead that it had been shown that Dr. Kennedy was perfectly rational on the night three days before his death, that he made the statement accusing Dr. Dean of administering to him a drink of whiskey with poison in it.
Special Prosecutor Means Johnston led the argument for the state, followed by Fred Witty, and District Attorney Jordan closed the argument for the prosecution.
Winding up the state's case, District Attorney Jordan concluded: "As far as I am concerned, this case is now over. I believe the evidence supports every charge we have made. Let your verdict be square with your conscience, Fix her punishment as you feel is justified."
Defense attorney J. J. Breland led the argument for the defense, followed by Richard Denman, and Chief Defense Counsel A. F. Gardner, Sr. finished the argument.
The state based its case on the "dying declaration" of Dr. Kennedy who, according to state witnesses, called in his brothers, Dr. Henry Kennedy, Greenwood dentist, and Dr. Barney Kennedy, Jackson dentist, to "tell them something." According to testimony of state witnesses, Dr. Preston Kennedy declared that "Dr. Ruth Dean gave me a drink of whiskey with poison in it. I think was bichloride of mercury."
In The defense produced three witnesses, Mrs. J.R. Boyles, and Noye Boyles, aunt and cousin of the defendant, and Dr. Dean herself, who swore that she had not been with Dr. Kennedy on the night of the alleged "highball party."
Several doctors, including Dr. Louis Leroy, speedboat enthusiast, and one of the South's leading sportsman, as well as one of the most renowned physicians in this territory, gave their opinions that Dr. Kennedy had not died of mercurial poison.
Opinions and medical authorities were introduced to show that no man given a lethal dose of mercurial poison, could have gotten up out of bed, and performed an appendicitis operation four days after he had been given the poison.
One of the state's chief contentions was that a motive for the alleged poison murder was that Dr. Kennedy had planned to remarry his divorced wife, Mrs. Bessie Barry Kennedy, who was in Panama at the time of the eminent surgeon's death.
The motive the state attempted to establish was the old proverb that "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
On the other hand, the defense produced close to 150 letters from the dead man, showing that he was not any more the pursued than the pursuer.
The defense furthermore attempted to show that Dr. Kennedy may have committed suicide by producing more than a hundred letters from a "Captain Franklin C. Maull", showing that Dr. Dean had intended to marry Captain Maull less than two weeks after Dr. Kennedy"s death.
Dr. Dean, Mrs. Boyles, and Noye Boyles swore that she was working on her trousseau for the Maull-Dean marriage on the night that the fatal "highball party" is alleged to have been held.
The Dean-Kennedy case has attracted probably more attention than any case ever written into the criminal records of Mississippi.
It has been "front page news" for every paper in the nation, and a number of metropolitan dailies, as well as nationally and internationally known news services, have had representatives here.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, March 3, 1934
There appeared little prospect of hearing of the motion of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean for a new trial in the Circuit Court this week when Judge S. F. Davis completed the calling of his docket this morning.
Dr. Dean's motion filed last week asks that the verdict of the jury finding her guilty on a murder charge in connection with the death of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy be set aside because of a number of errors assigned in the motion.
Judge Davis called the criminal docket this morning after empanelling of the juries for the week. No cases were ready for trial this morning and the court excused all jurors until tomorrow morning. Civil cases are set for tomorrow and District Attorney Arthur Jordan announced the setting of several criminal cases for Wednesday, which will likely take the remainder of the present week.
Judge Davis has announced that the Dean new trial motion will be considered in regular order when the motion docket is called after the other business of the court is disposed of.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, June 4, 1934
Judge S. F. Davis will tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock begin the hearing of the motion of Dr. Sara Ruth Dean for a new trial. Dr. Dean was convicted at the last term of the Circuit Court on a charge of murder in connection with the death of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy.
Following her conviction, Dr. Dean was released on bail pending the disposition of the new trial motion, which was originally set for hearing last Saturday. The formal motion was filed last Monday setting up fourteen assignments of error, which will be argued before Judge Davis tomorrow.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, June 6, 1934
Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, whose motion for a new trial following conviction in the February term of Circuit Court in connection with the death of Dr. J. Preston Kennedy will probably be heard this week, prepared the statement below analyzing the testimony against her from a physician's point of view.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, May 30, 1934
JACKSON, Miss., (AP)-A pardon for Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, Greenwood physician convicted of the "poison highball murder" of Dr. John P. Kennedy, will be sought at a formal hearing before Governor Mike Conner Thursday, June 6, at 9A.M., the Governor announced today.
He said he had advised counsel for Dr. Dean, whose conviction and life sentence was recently upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court which this week over-ruled suggestions of error, that the heading would be held on their petition for a pardon and a 30 day suspension, pending disposition of the pardon hearing.
Despite scores of telegrams, letters, telephone and personal calls, the Governor said he would not suspend or pardon Dr. Dean at least until a hearing has been held.
He had been urged to grant an immediate suspension, pending the pardon hearing, in order that Dr. Dean might not have to go to Parchman prison, where she is scheduled to serve a life sentence. Dr. Dean is now in the hospital of Leflore county jail, pending transfer to the state prison.
After her conviction and while she was free on bail, Dr. Dean was reported to have threatened that she would "never serve a day in the penitentiary." Fearing she might carry out the threat, officers have maintained a close watch on her.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, May 29, 1935
JACKSON, Miss.-Exhibiting a bit of impatience with those who would like to tell him "confidentially" what to do with the Dr. Sara Ruth Dean case, Governor Conner stated emphatically yesterday that he is not in the market for any "private" information, or gossip, concerning the case.
"If anybody wishes to talk with me about this case, they will have the opportunity to do so at the public hearing next Thursday", he said. "There will be no court rules at the hearing and witnesses who wish to testify will be permitted to do so, without restriction."
Since the Governor announced several days ago that he would not act on Dr. Dean's petition for a pardon until he had given everybody concerned with the case an opportunity to be heard at a public inquiry, numerous persons have written letters "advising" him and requesting an opportunity to tell him "privately" some things about the case.
Others writing the Governor are more interested in being able to hear and see what is said and done at the public hearing, scheduled for next Thursday morning. Miss Lena Brock, the Governor's secretary, has received several letters requesting "reserved seats" for the hearing.
Governor Conner said that he desires all the information bearing on the case that he can get, realizing that he has a close decision to make, but made it clear that he wants such information presented in public.
Indications are that a large crowd will be on hand for the hearing Thursday morning and it is highly probable that the small reception room in the Governor's suite at the Capitol will not be large enough. In that event, the hearing likely will be held in the hall of the House of Representatives, with Governor Conner occupying the chair on the speaker's rostrum, where he sat during the eight years he was the speaker of the house.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, June 3, 1935
JACKSON, Miss. (AP)- Governor Sennett Conner had before him today a sheaf of petitions and letters from various sections of the state urging clemency for Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, Greenwood child specialist under life sentence for murder, on whose application for a pardon a public hearing will be held tomorrow.
The comely woman physician turned to Governor Conner for a pardon when the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld her conviction at Greenwood for the "poisoned whiskey highball" slaying of her clinical associate, Dr. John Preston Kennedy.
Petitions favoring clemency for Dr. Dean were received from Summit in Pike County, and from Greenville in Washington County, yesterday.
The total cost to Dr. Dean's court fight, including the cost of the trial at Greenwood and her appeal to the Supreme Court, amounted to $6,800, clerks who tabulated the costs revealed yesterday. The six weeks' trial at Greenwood early in 1934 cost approximately $5,805.57, not including fees paid to defense witnesses.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, June 5, 1935
JACKSON, Miss. (AP)- Before an audience predominated by women, Governor Sennett Conner today heard five doctors testify that it was improbable that Dr. John Preston Kennedy came to his death by poisoning as the chief executive opened a public hearing in the state senate chamber on a pardon petition for Dr. Sara Ruth Dean, facing a life sentence in the penitentiary for Dr. Kennedy's alleged poison murder, and whose health was described as so precarious that she might not live a year longer if incarcerated.
Dr. Louis Leroy, professor of practicing medicine at the University of Tennessee Medical School at Memphis, testified that the amount of poison found in Dr. Kennedy's stomach was not sufficient to have produced death.
Dr. Kennedy died in a local hospital after making a statement in which he said that he drank poison contained in a whiskey highball served him by his clinical associate, the attractive Dr. Dean.
Dr. Leroy said it was not only improbable that Dr. Kennedy's death was caused by poison, but also that the chemical analysis of his stomach, made after death, would have had to have contained "10,000 times more mercury than was shown by the chemical report. Death would not have resulted from that source."
Dr. L. B. Otken, of Greenwood, who said he had been treating Dr. Dean for the past four months, the latter weeks of which the woman physician has been confined to jail, testified that the woman is suffering from a stomach ulcer, resulting in severe anemia, which would endanger her life if confined to the penitentiary.
The view was shared by Dr. F. M. Sandifer, of Greenwood, who said that he did not believe the woman would live another year of she remains in prison.
Testimony favorable to Dr. Dean was being heard at the morning session, which recessed at 12:25 for lunch, and the state will question its own witnesses later in the day.
The former wife of the dead man, Mrs. Bessie Barry Kennedy, with whom Dr. Kennedy was estranged at the time of his death, and the parents and brothers of the death victim. Were among the interested spectators at the hearing.
Just before the noon recess was called, Dr. LeRoy, who said that he testified at Dr. Dean's trial, declared that it was highly improbable that "trace" of mercury found by chemists in their analysis of Dr. Kennedy's vital organs, might have been from embalming fluid.
"Embalming fluid," he said, "might have been the source of a small amount of mercury. The fluid is made from reclaimed zinc, which is amalgamated with a small amount of mercury."
The question of Dr. Kennedy's "dying declaration", which question of its admissibility as brought a sharp division on the evidence among members of the state supreme court when Dr. Dean's sentence was affirmed by 3 to 3 vote, was injected into the hearing today.
"Dr. LeRoy", the witness was asked by counsel for Dr. Dean, "if it was true that the patient was talking at random at 9 o'clock at night, is it possible that he could have been delusioned about the poisoning?"
"Yes", he replied," that would be entirely probable; and he could have made a perfectly reasonable statement found on his delusion."
Dr. Sandifer's testimony was challenged by Attorney Fred Witty, of state counsel, who asked the doctor if he had not been " unfriendly" to Dr. Kennedy during the latter's lifetime because of a business conflict.
Dr. Sandifer replied that he had borne Dr. Kennedy no ill will.
Dr. John Martin of Pope and Dr. E. A. Gordin of Jackson largely corroborated the testimony of their professional associates that a "trace of poison", disclosed by chemical analysis of Dr. Kennedy's stomach, in all probability would not have resulted, in itself, in the man's death.
The hearing was to be resumed at 2 o'clock, with the prosecution presenting testimony opposing a pardon or suspension of sentence.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, June 6, 1935