Paintsville, KY, 1929
Carl Newton Mahan, 6, quarreled with his friend Cecil Van Hoose, 7, over a piece of scrap metal they planned to sell for a little money. Cecil took it and hit the younger boy in the face. Carl went to his home, took his father's 12-gauge shotgun and returned to where the other boy was. He then aimed it at Cecil's chest and pulled the trigger.
In May 1929, Judge John W. Butcher sentenced Carl to 15 years at a reform school in Greendale, Kentucky.
The defense demanded a jury trial fearing the judge planned to send him to reform school.
The verdict of manslaughter was returned by the jury after 30 minutes of deliberation.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick, the only person to witness the event said that Carl had told Cecil that if he didn't return the piece of iron, he would kill him. She didn't pay attention believing it was just two boys squabbling. Five minutes later she hear the report of a gun. Once outside she overtook Cecil who was running from the yard, and helped put him into an automobile which sped to the hospital with him. He died on the examining table.
Carl was released to his parents on $500 bail, and not only the defense attorney but the public cried out for an appeal. There were others that thought his sentence was not enough.
A circuit court judge issued a "writ of prohibition" that set aside the conviction and prevented the boy from being sent to reform school. This was based on a law that in juvenile cases a county judge would preside.
Carl's story ran in newspapers across the country.
The case finally landed in the Kentucky's attorney general's lap. A month after the trial Carl was left with his parents after he announced his review was complete and he took no action.
Heartbreak once again visited the Mahan family in May 1942 when Carl's younger brother James "Jimmie" Mahan drowned in Breslin Pond (Louisville, KY), He was only 16 years old and an experienced swimmer, when he sank into the water 10 feet from shore.
Carl went on to marry, however he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head on April 24, 1958. He was 37 years old. His paternal grandmother Roxie died in October of the same year. His father died in 1963, and his mother in 1980. His wife Roxie S. Mahan passed away in 1999.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer