The Adair County News, Tuesday, October 21, 1930

Murders Wife.


Blows Off Wife's Head With Shotgun in Family Quarrel.


Newt Smith, Jr., who lives near Milltown on the Greensburg Road, is in the county jail charged with murdering his wife late Monday afternoon. Sheriff Bruce White, Deputy Sheriff Bert Harper and Jailor Evan Akin made the arrest and reported that Smith was drunk when taken. His wife Maggie Smith was found dead upon the floor at the time of the arrest with part of her head shot away and the floor drenched with blood. It is thought that the murderer used a shotgun upon his wife in a drunken rage during a family quarrel.

Smith has been in jail on various charges a number of different times. The last time he was confined was on a wife beating charge.

She is survived by five children--three daughters and two sons. Two small children were at home at the time of the killing.


The Adair County News, Tuesday, October 28, 1930

Held Without Bond.


Man Accused of Slaying Wife Waived Examining Trial.


William Newton Smith, 45 years old [and a] farmer, of Big Windy, accused of murdering his wife on Monday, October 20, waived examining trial last Friday and is held without bond to await action of the grand jury.

Officers making the arrest stated that they found Smith in a drunken condition seated in the room with his wife's body. She was lying on the bed with part of her head blown off and the floor was covered with blood. It is understood that Smith has told conflicting tales as to the murder.

The officers were summoned by a man, who stated that his father had shot his mother.

Mr. Gordon Montgomery is the attorney that has been employed by the defense.


The Adair County News, Tuesday, November 11, 1930

Wife Killer Given Life Sentence.


Jury Reaches Decision This Morning After Hours of Deliberation.

Prisoner Protected by State Militia.


Excitement Prevailed in Columbia.


The trial of Bill Newt Smith, Jr., charged with murdering his wife Maggie Smith, Monday, October 20, was called Saturday morning. Judge Rollin Hurt and Gordon Montgomery were appointed to defend Smith with County Attorney W.A. Coffey and Commonwealth Attorney C.C. Crabtree represented the Commonwealth. A jury was selected from Cumberland county.

Throughout the entire trial the court room, halls and stairways of the Court House were packed and the town was full of people interested in the outcome. It is understood that no trial in many years has caused as much feeling and brought so many people to Columbia.

On the night the crime was committed a neighbor, Richard Franklin, and a ten year old son of Smith reported to the authorities that Mrs. Smith had been murdered by her husband, at their home near Columbia. Sheriff Bruce White, Jailor Evan Akin and Deputy Sheriff Bert Harper went to the Smith home and made the arrest. A scene of horror met their eyes when they entered the house. The dead woman lay upon a bed in a pool of blood with part of her head blown off. The floor was drenched with blood. Smith was sitting by the fire in a drunken stupor with a discharged shot gun close at hand. The officers stated that when they entered Smith said, "That old woman is dead." He was lodged in the county jail and held there without bond.

Testimony showed that the killing was the culmination of a series of family quarrels. Several months ago Smith shot his wife in the shoulder and threatened to kill her. Later he beat her brutally, pulling out bunches of her hair and for that offense was put in jail. He was released on bond through his wife's efforts but the case had not come up for trial at the time she was murdered. Witnesses testified that Smith stated she would never appear against him.

Smith claimed that he shot his wife accidentally, while struggling with Richard Franklin over the possession of the gun and was upheld in this statement by his fifteen year old son. Franklin testified that Smith shot her just as he entered the room from a rear door. He further stated that she fell to the floor, struggled a few moments and died and that he placed the dead woman on a bed in the room.

The three daughters testified that Smith had been very cruel to their mother and one of them stated that she  had heard him threaten to kill her. Persons knowing Mrs. Smith, many of whom had known her for years, stated she was a good, kind woman.

The evidence was completed by 11:30 Monday evening and attorneys Coffey and Montgomery made their speeches before court adjourned for dinner. When County Attorney W.A. Coffey finished his speech for the prosecution, begging that the death penalty be given, the court room rang with applause and general disorder prevailed. Cries were heard, "If you don't give him what he deserves, we will." After dinner Judge Rollin Hurt spoke for the defense and C.C. Crabtree made a stirring speech for the Commonwealth. The case then went to the jury but no decision was -----ed until this (Tuesday) morning. Smith was given life imprisonment.

Feeling was rife against Smith and mob violence was threatened. After the demonstration in the courtroom Judge Carter got in communication with Governor Sampson and requested that the militia be sent to Columbia to maintain law and order.

Friends of Jailor Akin informed him during the day that a band would attempt to take Smith from him in the event the jury failed to bring in a death sentence.

Jailor Akin said he was advised to surrender the keys to the jail quietly so that the band could obtain the prisoner without trouble. He declared he told the men, he would defend Smith with his life if necessary and that he proposed to lock himself in the cell with Smith and keep the keys with him.

Twenty-five National Guardsmen headed by Captain Albert A. Ely arrived from Glasgow last night to guard the jury when the verdict was rendered and also the prisoner. Troops sent here are members of the 123rd Cavalry Kentucky National Guard.


(Note: the husband's name almost certainly was Newton Leslie Smith rather than William Newton Smith, Jr.)