The Durant Weekly News
September 11, 1914
Life Sentence for Dr. Gray
Slayer of Simeon Cochran is Found Guilty of Murder as Charged;
Jury Out Only Forty Minutes
Defendant Unmoved at Hearing of Verdict
We, the jury, duly empanelled and sworn in the above entitled cause, do upon our oaths, find from the evidence the above named defendant, J. S. Gray, is guilty of murder as charged in the information and fix his punishment at imprisonment of hard labor in the State Penitentiary for and during his natural life. Jack Turner, Sam Bacon, J. M. Self, Hiram Statem, H. B. Knight, Ed. L. Smith, W. H. Horn, W. H. Dyer, O. T. Eddleman, Tom Bates, C. W. Colbert, and J. M Abbott, foreman.
Such was the verdict, arrived at in forty minutes, that sealed the fate of Dr. J. S. Gray of Matoy, charged with the murder of Simeon Cochran which has occupied the attention of the court for the first three days of this week.
When court convened Monday the entire forenoon was used up in getting a jury to try this defendant, J. S. Gray; the regular panel was exhausted and talisman were brought in from which the jurors were selected.
The trial commenced on Monday afternoon and lasted until 11 o’clock Wednesday morning when the attorneys for the state and the defense began their pleas to the jury, and each attorney talked all the way from an hour to an hour and a half, occupying the entire afternoon. The case went to the jury after supper and in forty minutes the jury reported to the court that a verdict had been reached; the verdict was read and the jury dismissed.
Only three ballots were required to reach the verdict.
The evidence showed that on the morning of the killing Cochran was getting up early and was in the act of bending over, chopping wood with which to kindle a fire, when Dr. Gray fired on him with a shot gun while he stooped, killing him almost instantly.
The court room and the corridor had been packed with spectators during the course of the trial and interest in the case was intense. The defendant sat motionless during the trial, his eye on the witnesses then on the jury, with an occasional whisper to his attorneys- that was all. If he felt worried over the outcome of the trial he did not give it away by facial expression. He was unmoved when the verdict was announced, although he had formerly expressed himself as being sure of an acquittal. When talk was made of an appeal, the defendant is quoted as saying that it was of no use, as he was getting old and the appeal would cost too much, but it is understood that notice of appeal has been given.
Dr. Gray was represented by attorneys Utterback & McDonald of this city and Wm. S. Murphy of Bennington. The prosecution was handled by County Attorney Turnbull and Assistant Gray Moore.
The case of Joe Jackson, the Platter negro who shot and killed another negro, Oscar Mitchell, there some time ago, was on the docket to be tried Thursday when court convened.
Following the Jackson trial will come that of Mrs. Cora Lawson, of Bennington, and her son Boner Steward, indicted together for the murder of J. S. Lawson at Bennington several months ago. Much interest has been aroused in the Lawson case.