/Emmett Till murder Carolyn Bryant’s testimony

Emmett Till murder Carolyn Bryant’s testimony

MRS. ROYBRYANT, a witness introduced for and for the defendants being first duly swear, testified on her oath as follows: DIRECTEXAMINATION BY (attorney Bryant and Milam) Q What is your name please, ma’am? A Mrs. Roy Bryant. Q Are you the wife of Roy Bryant? A Sir. Q What age are you, Mrs. Bryant. A Twenty-one. Q How tall are you? A Five feet, two inches. Q Mrs. Bryant, how much weight do you have? A One hundred and three lbs. Q Do you have children? A Yes. Q What are the names of those children? A Roy Bryant, Jr. and Thomas Lamar Bryant. Q Are they both boys? A Yes. Q What is Roy Jr.’s age? He is three years old. Q How old is Thomas Lamar, then? A Two. Q What is the age of your husband, Mrs. Bryant. A Twenty-four. Q When did you get married? A 25 April 1951. Q Did Roy ever serve in the Armed Forces of America? A Yes. Q When did he join the Armed Forces? 1. SMITH: We object to that, Your Honor. This is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. THE COURT: The objection has been overruled. Q When did he join the Armed Forces? A June 1950. Q It was approximately ten months before you got married, I believe. Yes. Q How long was he in the service? Three years. Q Was he able to get out of prison in June 1953? Yes. Q Mrs. Bryant, please direct your attention to Wednesday night, the 24th of August. On that evening, who was there with you in the store? SMITH: The Court may object to any events that occurred on Wednesday evening, unless they are connected. BRELAND (attorneys for Bryant and Milam). We will connect it. THE COURT: Please retire the jury to the jury room. (The jury retired into the jury room. The proceeding continued in the absence the jury. CARLTON (attorneys for Bryant, Milam): The Court may confirm that the State’s direct examination of Mose Wright revealed that one of those men came to Mose Wright’s home on Wednesday night, August 24, to ask about Money. Inferences drawn by the State from that testimony have been made which defendants feel they are entitled to explain. The State has opened an inquiry into the incident and the defendants have the right to answer those questions. Further, defendants believe these occurences are part of what is claimed to be one transaction, which the state calls the inception and beginning of the incident. As such, these occurences are part of the res gestae. As such, the defendants should be allowed to testify in that instance. SMITH (attorney representing the state): Mr. Carlton’s idea that the thing was open for any events that occurred on Wednesday before that Sunday morning is based on a statement I do not know. Our evidence began with Sunday morning’s appearance at two o’clock in which two or more people came to Mose Wright’s house to look for the boy. We continued to build our evidence and prove it. We have not provided any evidence whatsoever about anything that occurred before that time. This is the first time Mrs. Bryant has been involved in this matter. It is safe to say that she has not been mentioned in this matter. In Mississippi, the Supreme Court has ruled that evidence cannot be presented for former difficulties which are not part of the res gestae. The Supreme Court has held that a sequence of events which may chronologically follow each other in a short time span of time is not admissible as evidence if they do not form part of the res gestae. Your Honor will be more familiar with this than I am. There have been many cases of homicide or assault where one party might have difficulty the next day, and another day they might meet up to have more trouble or an altercation between them. We also believe that any incident that occurred on Wednesday should not be considered a justification for murder. We feel that the _ are completely incompetent in this instance. Any events that occurred before those men went down to Mose Wrights’ house are certainly not relevant to bring in here. BRELAND: Court, please, I think the prosecution has viewed these things and the Supreme Court decisions in a different way than _. The Court should be aware that although an incident can be separated by days or even weeks, if they are connected as part of a transaction by a man, it does not mean that they must happen together. If the events can be linked together and form a backdrop for another, then they can be considered part of an entire transaction. The Supreme Court has, I believe, ruled on this issue several times. The Court: Gentlemen, the Court understands that our Supreme Court decisions regarding such evidence allow for evidence of past difficulties to be presented provided it can be considered part of the res gestae. If the deceased is proven to be the aggressor or there is doubt about who might have been, such evidence would be admissible. It would be inadmissible without this showing. WHITTEN (attorneys for Bryant and Milam). Honor, I don’t believe that is our strongest argument. The first is that the State has, through its own witness, raised questions in the minds the jury as to whether the events at Money’s store were mere talk. It was stated to the jury not once, but it was repeated twice more. I believe that they were there to see the boy who had been talking at Money. We believe that any time the State presents or makes evidence of testimony, regardless of whether it is relevant to the issue, the accused must be able to explain or make further arguments to the jury. THE COURT: According to the Court, any accused in a criminal case can present any evidence that relates to any continuation of an alleged crime. However, the evidence that is being presented here regarding details of an incident prior to the crime is not admissible. The Court recalls that Mose Wright testified to J. W. Milam that he wanted the boy who did the talking at Money. It is possible that they also mentioned something about the boy who did the talking at Money. The Court disagrees with this opinion. They cannot provide evidence about the specific events that took place at the store that day. BRELAND: Another thing, Your Honour, is that any evidence regarding these defendants may also be competent when it comes to their families, as they have the same rights to protect their family members as they do to themselves. The Court: This would be true with regard to the statement that I made at the beginning regarding prior incidents or conflicts between the parties. Members of their immediate family would also be included in that. However, this evidence is only admissible in evidence according to Supreme Court decisions if there is a question about who was the aggressor at time of the crime. The evidence involving the immediate family would then be admissible in evidence. BRELAND: For the sake of the record, Your Honour, we wish to present the testimony. THE COURT: This is the Court’s interpretation of the laws and evidence of Mississippi in cases like this. Now, you may proceed. Q Mrs. Bryant: On Wednesday night or Wednesday night of the 24th of August 1955, did anybody — were you in the store that night? A No. Q Were you the only person in the store at that time? A Yes. Q Were there any people in the living rooms at the back of the store? A Yes. Q Who was there? A Mrs. Milam with her two children, and also our two kids. Q Was there any incident in the store that made you feel a little bit different that night? Yes. Q What time was it? A About eight o’clock. Q Was it before or after darkness? A After dark. Q Please, ma’am, tell the Court about what happened at that moment. A This nigger man entered the store and stopped at the candy case. Q Where is the candy case in the store? A In the front of the shop. Q On which side? As you enter, it is on your left side. Q Is that the first counter? A Yes, Sir. Q Is the candy counter still in the store? A. Q Can I walk there? A Yes, there is an aisle. Q Where were you when this negro man entered the store? A I was further back, behind the counter. Q Were you there when the man entered? I was further back behind the counter. Q Were you both on the same side, or the opposite side? A On the same side. Q I think he stopped at the candy counter when he entered. Yes. Q What did you do? I went up to the candy counter. Q What happened at the candy counter? I asked him what he wanted. Q Did he answer? A Yes. Q What did he ask for? A No. Q Did you then buy the merchandise for him? A Yes. It was mine. I put it on the top of the candy box. Q What did you do? A I offered my money and held out my hand. Q Which hand did your hold out? A I hold out my right hand. Q Can you demonstrate to the Court how your right hand is held out? A I held my hand out like this (demonstrating by reaching out with her hand). Q What hand was it? A It was my right hand. Q Can you demonstrate to the Court what you did? A As in this (holding out her hand). Q Did he give you the money, or did he? No. Q What did he do with my hand? A He grabbed my hand. Q Can you demonstrate to the Court how he grabbed my hand? A Similar to this (demonstrating with her hands). Q He held your hand and grasped all of the fingers in his palm. This is what you’ve shown us. Yes. Q Did he have a firm grip or a loose grip when he held your hands? A A strong grip. Q Will you tell the Court? What did you do to get it loose? I did what Demonstrate, which is a simple way to get loose. Q Was it really that hard to let go? A Yes. Q Was it with so much difficulty that your hand was free? A Yes. Q What did he say to you when he grabbed you by the hand? Q What happened when you let go of his hand? A I turned around, and began to go back to the back. Q What did you do? I turned to go to the back of my store. Q What did you do next? A Yes. I was caught at the cash register when he came down the other way. Q Did he catch you? Yes. Q How did he catch me? He put his left hand on mine and then he placed his other hand on my side. Q What was your approach to the counter? Is he approaching you from the side, the back or the front? A From the side. Q Mrs. Bryant, would you please stand up and place your hands exactly where he gripped you? Do you want to show the Court or jury? It was as this (demonstrating by putting Mr. Carlton’s hands on her bodies). Q Did he grab you like this? A Yes. Q Or, do you want his left arm wrapped around your back? A Yes. Q And his left arm on your left hip? Yes. Q Did he place his right hand on your right side? Yes. Q Did he ever say anything to me at that time? A Yes. Q What did he tell us? Q What did he say? It’s not hard to take. Q He replied, “What’s up, baby?” Q Can you accept it?” A Yes. Q Did you try to get out of it? Yes. Q Was it hard? Q Did you manage to free yourself? A Yes. Q Did he add anything to you? A Yes. Q What did he actually say? A He said, “You don’t need to be afraid of me.” Q And did he use language you don’t understand? A Yes. Q Could you please tell the Court what this word means and what letter it starts with? (The witness didn’t answer verbally but she shook her head negatively. Q Is it an unprintable word, or in other words? Yes. Q Was there anything he said after the one unprintable word? A Yes. Q What was that? Q And what was that? A Then another nigger entered the shop and grabbed him by the arm. Q What happened next? He told him to get up and go. Q Was he willing to leave the store or not? A Not willingly. Q How did the other negro leave the store? How did they get out? He grabbed him by the arm, and led him out. Q Were any white men present in the store when this happened? A No. Q Were there other negro-men in the store at that time? A Q Were there other people in the store? A Yes. Q Were they colored or white men? A Coloured. Q How many were there? How many were there? A Oh, around eight to nine. Q Did he say anything more after making these obscenities? Yes. A Yes. A I called Mrs. Milam to keep an eye on me, and I ran out the front door to get to the car. Q To which car did you go? A Mrs. Milam’s. Q Why did you go to the vehicle? A To get my pistol. Q What was the location of your pistol in your car? A Under the seat. Q It was underneath which seat? It was under the driver’s seat. Q Did you see him again as you walked out of the door and into the car? Yes. Q Where was he when he died? Q Where was he standing then? He was standing near one of the posts that adorned the front porch. Q Does your store have a front porch? Yes. Q Are these posts on the front porch? A Yes. Q Did he say anything or do something at that moment? A He whistled, then he walked out on the road. Q Could you make a sound similar to the one he made? It was something like this. (Mr. Carlton displayed this by making two low whistles. A Yes. Q Mrs. Bryant, when did you get your pistol? Or should I say, where was this man? A He was driving down the road when I turned around. Q Did you hurry back to the shop? Yes. Q Have you ever seen this man before? A No. Q Have you ever seen him since then? A Yes. Q Please tell us how tall he is. Please describe his height. A He stood at five feet six inches. Q Is that correct? That is four inches higher than you. Yes. Q How much did he weigh? A About one hundred fifty pounds. Q Was there any defect in his walking? No. Q Does he have any speech defects? No. Q Were you able to understand him? A No. Q What impression did this incident make on you? A I was scared to death. Q Mrs. Bryant do you know any negroes living in the area around Money? A Yes. Q What type of store do you have? It’s a general store. Q Are your customers mostly negroes?
people? They are mostly negroes. Q Do you have any contact with the majority of the negroes in the area? Yes. Q Do you know the majority of them? Yes. Q Was this man one of them? A No. Q Was he speaking with a northern or southern brogue? A The northern brogue. Q Could you understand him? A No. Q Were there any white men around to help you that night? A Q Was your husband away? A Yes. Q Do you know his location? He was in Brownsville. Q What was the purpose of his being away from his home? He had brought a lot of shrimp with him. Q From where did he start with the shrimp load? A From New Orleans. Q When did you expect him home? I don’t know. Q Why were Mrs. Milam, the children and you there? A To make sure I wasn’t alone. 1. CARLTON: We now submit, Your Honour, that the testimony is competent on the basis the State’s testimony. This testimony was presented to show that Money was a place where there was talk, and to dispel the impression that Money was nothing but talk. THE COURT: The Court already ruled and the Court is of the opinion that the evidence presented is not inadmissible. (The jury returned to court and proceedings were continued with the present jury. CARLTON: Your Honor, we have no other questions. CHATHAM: No questions. (WITNESS EXCUSED.)