Widow Testifies Husband Jumped to Death in Car’s Path; Four Inquests Held

Testimony that Luther T. Brazelle, 51, of near Blaney, deliberately jumped in front of an automobile to his death Saturday night on Forest Drive road, Quinine Hill section, was offered by the victim’s widow at an inquest held yesterday at Richland county courthouse.

Mrs. Brazelle said that her husband tried to jump in front of another car the same night, and that when she grabbed him, he shoved her in the ditch. Her face bore numerous bruises.

The funeral for Mr. Brazelle was held yesterday afternoon from the Smyrna Methodist church near Blaney with interment in the churchyard.

Coroner John A. Sargeant questioned the witness at the inquest and jurors who returned a verdict that Mr. Brazelle died “by mischance and accident” included Samuel L. Miller, J. H. Croft, W. R. Kitrill, J. H. Ross, R. S. Wilson, and J. E. Pace.

Mrs. Brazelle also testified at the hearing that her husband have been drinking before the evening’s events transpired.

Mr. Brazelle was killed instantly at 11:30 Saturday night when struck by an automobile driven by F. B. Reynolds, co-ordinator of vocational education at Columbia highs school. Attorney Clint Graydon represented Mr. Reynolds.

Four inquests were held yesterday, including those in the deaths of Mr. Brazelle, John Franklin Dennis and James W. Aughtry, all automobile accident victims, and of John (“Chump”) Harris, 25, of 622 Gates street, who was shot to death.

The criminal court room at the courthouse was crowded with interested spectators last night, including several hundred Negroes present for the Harris case.

The jury in the Harris case decided, after only a few minutes’ consideration, that Harris died at result of gunshot wounds inflicted by Frank Wallace, 31, of 1301 Park street. Both principals were Negroes.

Detective J. R. White, one of the investigating officers to testify, said Wallace admitted having gone seven blocks away to get the rifle with which the shooting was done Saturday night in the rear of 901 Devine street.

Sgt. D. O. Spires, who was with Officer R. E. McMahon arrested Wallace some hours after the shooting, testified that they had to knock the door down to gain entrance to Wallace’s house, where he was arrested, fully clothed except for his shoes, and in bed.

Officer McMahon said Wallace showed him where he hid the gun in na vacant house after the shooting. The gun had been re-loaded.

Cora Lee Martin of 1301 Park street testified that Wallace drew a knife on her and that Harris protested, whereupon Wallace went home and got his gun.

James Rawls of 901 Devine street said he saw Wallace concealing himself beneath the house, carrying a rifle, and Louise Stephney of the rear of 901 Devin street said she was only a few feet away when Wallace, without warning opened fire on Harris. Harris died a short time later in an ambulance.

Jurors in the case were W. G. Gardener, Robert Wilson, Sye Randall, Andrew Neely, Julian Wescott and Robert Stanford.

Two Deaths Held Accidents.

Separate juries considered the deaths of John Franklin Dennis, 28, of Percival road, and James W. Aughtry, 25, his second cousin, who were injured fatally by a foret drive bus Friday night. Both deaths were declared due to “mischance and accident.”

Attorney John Hughes Cooper represented the two families and Attorney Paul Cooper the South Carolina Electric and Gas company.

Witnesses testified that the odor of an alcoholic beverage was strong upon the men. A bottle half-filled, taken from Mr. Dennis’ pocket at the Columbia hospital was introduced as further evidence.

The jurors in the inquest in Harris’ death included J. L. Reid, Sr., J. T. Reddick, J. B. Hay, F. D. Faust, Jacob Philips and R. L. Klapman.

In the death of Mr. Aughtry, jurors included J. H. Haynes, M. C. Howard, J. N. Williamson, W. K. Dawson, M. W. Koon and Harry Getter.

October 31, 1939  State (published as The State)  
Columbia, South Carolina
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