28 March 1913 – Floyd Allen

The jury deliberated for hours. After all, condemning a person to death is a big decision, especially when the man in question was Floyd Allen, whose previous trial had sparked a blood-bath.

He’d originally only been charged with interfering with the rights of lawful passage. However, when he was found guilty the court room descended into a gun battle, which ultimately led to him being had up for murder.

Family bonds

Brought up in the Appalachian Mountains, theirs was a fiercely close-knit community, so when his two nephews were arrested and shamefully paraded for all to see through their home town on the way to jail, he couldn’t just stand by and watch. Instead, as the Allen boys passed by their own family’s shop, Floyd Allen naturally tried to intervene to save his nephews the humiliation.

The sheriff failed to let them loose, so Allen overpowered the lawmen and freed the boys from their chains – of course he then took the boys to the jail and they did their time, nevertheless Allen’s actions saw him banged up too.

Shoot-out

The jury found Allen guilty and a murderous shootout kicked off involving Allen’s family, which claimed the lives of the judge, the sheriff, the prosecutor, a juror and a bystander in Carroll County Court, Virginia. To this day, no-one is sure who fired first shot, nevertheless five were killed and Allen was injured along with six others.

Son of a gun

The lawmen upped the ante and a murder charge was slapped on Allen’s head alongside his son Claude, together with four other relatives. They got an assortment of jail sentences, while Allen and Claude got the death penalty.

Both were executed in the electric chair on this day in 1913, amid controversy as to whether they were actually just defending themselves. The fact that the others were later pardoned could suggest that there were grounds for reasonable doubt.

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