Guilty or not Guilty?
by Mrs. S. A. Collins
The court-room was crowded, the prisoner sat there.
His mother beside him, her brow furrowed with care.
The judge and the jury were busy that day,
To clear or convict him, her darling boy Jay.
A man had been murdered, a neighbor had found
Him lying stone dead on the cold frozen ground.
And near by in the thicket a handkerchief lay,
And stamped in the border was the little word "Jay."
Beside the man lay the weapon, whose bullet had sped
To the heart of the victim, and there he lay dead.
Of course it was the duty of the officers then,
To try to discover who had murdered the man.
And as they spied the kerchief it gave them a clue,
Perhaps to find the murderer and he should have his due.
There was only one who bare that name in the country far and wide.
This circumstantial evidence was all they could provide.
And still the boy was taken, his mother, worn and pale,
Went to the examination and followed to the jail.
Bound over until court convenes on $3,000 bail.
As she could not raise the sum the boy was sent to jail.
When the time came for the trial, and the jury had been sworn,
The prisoner had been ushered in by the sheriff on that morn.
No witness but the boy himself was there for the defense
And nothing but the kerchief to prove guilt or innocence.
So when the court was called the state took up the case.
The boy sat there bewildered, the tears ran dawn his face.
The court have proven "plainly that the kerchief there was "Jay's,"
And nothing but suspicion and conviction on him lays.
The judge had charged the jury, the evidence all was in,
The mother still was certain he was not guilty of the sin.
When the jury left the court-room all was quiet as the grave,
And many anxious faces lacked the sympathy they gave.
When through the open doorway, came a figure, worn and wild,
His gray hair hung about his neck; he cried, "Release the child.
I knew the man had money, to have it I was bound,
So I shot him with my pistol," then left it on the ground.
And then I thought to hide my guilt the kerchief I would place
Near by among the bushes, from the body just a pace.
I had found the kerchief lying in the opening near by,
And then I thought to free myself, this wicked scheme I’d try.
My can science will not let me rest, I own I took his life."
The jury's verdict might have been, "Guilty of murder, prison for life."
We little know how many men are serving time in jail,
Who were not guilty of a crime, but to prove it could but fail.