Closing Statements

Typically, the closing statement is a lawyer’s moment to shine. Though they must stick to how the evidence supports their side in the case, they have a lot of room to shape the narrative. The closing is the last thing the jury will hear before they leave to deliberate. A powerful story will make anContinue reading “Closing Statements”

Sheffey’s Lurid Past Revealed

For the most part, Sheffey proved to be remarkably unshakeable when cross-examination began the next morning, August 26.  Attorney General Peace seemed intent on rattling Sheffey by first bringing up scandalous details from his past. The Johnson City Chronicle outlined how the “bespeckled young man” openly, though “not gladly,” shared tales of his romantic adventuresContinue reading “Sheffey’s Lurid Past Revealed”

Sheffey’s Day in Court

At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25th1925,  William D. Sheffey stood up to be sworn in as the first witness in his own defense. As he seated himself in the witness chair, Sheffey folded his arms across his chest but otherwise looked unruffled. The courtroom seemed to become electrified. Men and women filled every possibleContinue reading “Sheffey’s Day in Court”

The Mysterious Dr. Cusick and a Confused Mrs. Reagan

In a rare victory for Sheffey’s defense team, Judge John J. Blair agreed that the jury should not hear the testimony of Dr. Chad Cusick. With the jury out of the room, the state asked Dr. Cusick to describe his encounter with a strange man on horseback many years earlier. Readers may recall the CusickContinue reading “The Mysterious Dr. Cusick and a Confused Mrs. Reagan”

The State’s Case

Attorney General Peace had set a lot of weight on the identification of Sheffey by Ada Wells and the handwriting expert’s conclusion that Sheffey had written the taunting Emery Letter. However, with both of those pieces of evidence facing serious challenges by the defense team, the prosecution had to call on every possible witness toContinue reading “The State’s Case”

Sensational News!

This post was written by Myndalynn Word (MC ’21) and was edited by N. Locklin. In the 1920s, journalism was changing. This was due to the changes in technology and emerging trends in radio. With all new technologies, previously popular modes of entertainment risked being old fashioned. Newspapers had to become more entertaining in theContinue reading “Sensational News!”

The Writing on the Wall

The prosecution in the case against Will Sheffey sought to introduce evidence on the Night Marauder attacks that had taken place in Knox and Blount counties. The defense, naturally, were determined to keep such testimony out of the trial. Attorney General Peace argued that he felt the other cases would support the investigation into theContinue reading “The Writing on the Wall”

Psychology Experts Face Off

This post was written by Autumn Carroll (MC ’22) and edited by N. Locklin. By now, we have seen that the grounds on which Ada Wells made her identification were a bit shaky. She was unable to make an immediate identification of Will Sheffey as the attacker, only being able to following a hallucination thatContinue reading “Psychology Experts Face Off”

The State of TN vs. William D. Sheffey, opening day

As the August 1925, session of the Circuit Court in Blount County, TN, approached, the town was abuzz. The earliest reports were that the Sheffey defense team was hard put to get the state to reveal their evidence prior to its presentation at trial. There was no preliminary hearing. By August 11, it had beenContinue reading “The State of TN vs. William D. Sheffey, opening day”

Pre-trial Debates

In the weeks leading up to Sheffey’s trial, factions developed in the community. Newspapers presented wildly different characterizations of the suspect, depending on who their sources and audience were. The Maryville papers tried to maintain a neutral stance because the community was so divided. Out-of-town papers seemed to run with whatever headline would be mostContinue reading “Pre-trial Debates”