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Charity Lamb Trial: 1854

Defendant's Children Testify

The trial began when the coroner established that the victim died in his bed one week after the infliction of two cuts that went through the top of the skull and into the brain.

Identification of Lamb as the culprit was easy. She implied her involvement by fleeing the scene. Furthermore, she told the doctor and the constable that she "did not mean to kill the critter, … only intended to stun him" and "she was sorry she had not struck him a little harder." Then too, her dying husband asked his wife, "My dear, why did you kill me for?" But the saddest evidence came from her own children. Son Thomas testified that he "saw her strike him one blow on the head with the axe." Son Abram testified that his father "fell over and scrambled about a little."

Finally the prosecutor had to show premeditation. Here, motive was the gate and a man named Collins was the key. The doctor testified that:

there was a love affair between Collins and Mary Ann [the daughter]; that she [Charity] favored the suit, and Lamb opposed it; that she was mortified and vexed about it, for Collins was so nice a man.

That dispute blossomed into rage when, one week prior to the killing, Charity helped Mary Ann compose a love letter to Collins. Before it could be sent, Nathaniel discovered it, destroyed the letter, and threatened to kill Collins.

An axe in the back of the head was further proof of premeditation. It showed a planned selection of time, place, and weapon. Then too, she showed no sign of remorse. After the killing she was found smoking her pipe at fireside in a distant neighbor's cabin, her only concern being whether Nathaniel could come find her.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Charity Lamb Trial: 1854 - Settlers Shocked By Murder, Defendant's Children Testify, The Defense: Insanity, The Verdict