Old News Stories
Eula Elrod Thompson Murders Brother, 1941
From The Chatsworth Times
Aug. 14, 1941
EULA ELROD THOMPSON GIVEN LIFE
SENTENCE IN SLAYING OF BROTHER
Virgil Scott Also Gets Life For Stabbing
Kermit Pritchett To Go On Trial Friday Morning
The Elrods who live in the Ball Ground community came to town this week to prosecute one of their clan and two others for the murder of Walker Elrod who died on the night of June 2, 1941, at the home of his father, Ab Elrod.
Best known of the defendants is Eula Elrod Thompson, daughter of Ab and Alice Elrod, who in 1927 was convicted along with her husband, Cliff Thompson, and a Negro, Hugh Moss, of murdering Coleman Osborne at his country store near Chatsworth. All three were sentenced to the electric chair. The men paid the death penalty but Eula's life was spared by Governor I. G. Hardman, who commuted her sentence to life imprisonment. Governor Eugene Talmadge granted Eula a full pardon after she had served eight years on the state farm at Milledgeville. Eula remains the only woman the State of Georgia has ever sentenced to the electric chair.
Virgil Scott, originally of Murray County, but employed as a machinist in Dalton at the time of the killing, was also charged with the murder of Walker Elrod. He was tried on Wednesday and found guilty with recommendation for mercy by a jury that deliberated for three and a half hours.
Scott was serving a five year prison sentence for abandoning his wife and four children when he was paroled for a twelve month period on June 25, 1940.
Kermit Pritchett, who goes on trial Friday, also charged with the murder of Walker Elrod, is a brother-in-law of Scott and was employed at the same machine shop in Dalton where Scott was working.
Judge John C. Mitchell, presiding in all the cases, was solicitor-general in 1927 and prosecuted Eula in the Osborne murder case.
In the Walker Elrod case Solicitor-General J. H. Paschall is prosecuting attorney. Kermit Pritchett has employed W. B. Robinson, Chatsworth attorney, Carter Pittman and William Hunnicutt, Dalton lawyers, to defend him. Judge Mitchell appointed Jesse M. Sellers as leading attorney to represent Eula and Scott. Elgin Hardin and Don Henderson, both of Dalton, were named to assist Mr. Sellers.
State witnesses in the two cases already tried were: Ab Elrod, Thelma Elrod Hodge, Mrs. Walker Elrod, Edwin Hodge, Elmo Coffey of the Dalton Police force, and Sheriff John Morrison. Witnesses testifying for the defense in the Scott case were Carter Pittman of Dalton and W. B. Robinson.
Ab Elrod testified that Eula, Scott and Pritchett had come to his home on the afternoon of June 2 with bundles of household good belonging to Thelma Elrod, who was working in Dalton. Walter Elrod, whose home was near his father's, came over to see who had driven into the yard. An argument arose between Eula and Walker, Mr. Elrod related, after Scott and Pritchett had left. Walker struck at his sister with his hand, the father said, and he exclaimed, "don't do that, son."
Mr. Elrod told of hearing his dogs bark around 11 o'clock that night and of going to his porch to see his daughter Thelma, followed by Kermit Pritchett, coming toward the house.
Thelma said that she had come to see how her mother was, Mr. Elrod stated. He replied that her mother was in the house and that nothing was wrong with her.
Walker called from his house to his father, Mr. Elrod continued, "who is there?" he wanted to know.
"Thelma and Pritchett I told him," Mr. Elrod said.
"Come over here. I want to talk to you," Mr. Elrod quoted Pritchett as calling to Walker.
Walker came quickly to the yard of his father. "I have asked you time and time again not to bring Scott and Eula up here around Ma's house," Mr. Elrod continued quoting his son.
"It's my car and I'll head where I please," Pritchett replied, according to Mr. Elrod's testimony.
The witness related that Pritchett and his son began fighting and that he saw Scott come from behind a rose bush in the yard and attack Walker. He told of starting for his hat and threatening, "I'm going to get the law."
After Eula and the two men had left and Walker had died, Mr. Elrod said he came into Chatsworth and swore out warrants for the arrest of the trio.
Thelma Elrod Hodge's account of the fight and killing were similar to what her father told. When she saw Scott coming from behind the rose bush she grabbed her brother on the left side, she said, and the knife Scott stabbed him with barely missed her hand.
"Walker died with his head in my lap," the 18-year-old girl stated. "His last words were ‘Old man, they've killed me. Lay me down and let me die."
Thelma also testified she saw Eula come from behind the rose bush with Scott. She said she had gone to her father's home on the night of the killing with Eula and Pritchett when the two came to her room in Dalton and told her her mother was hurt, or maybe killed, and offered to take her home. She denied that Scott was in the car.
Mrs. Walker Elrod told of seeing Eula in the afternoon and that Eula told her, "The man driving that car is going to kill your husband before daylight." Therefore when Walker started in his father's house that night she following him, taking a gun, she said. During the fight in the yard Eula held her, Mrs. Elrod said, while she tried to discharge the gun.
Edwin Hodge, in the service of the United States Army at Fort Oglethorpe, who was engaged to Thelma Elrod at the time of the murder and has since married her, testified for the state.
Scott and Eula came for him at Fort Oglethorpe on June 2, Hodge said, and told him they wanted him to go to Ab Elrod's to find out about Walker. They had two suitcases in the car, he stated. Hodge said he went to the Elrod home from Dalton in a taxi.
Sheriff Morrison, on the witness stand, said he received a report of the killing at about 1 o'clock on the morning of June 3 and that he searched Murray county for Eula, Scott and Pritchett, and then went to Dalton where they were in jail, having been arrested by officers in that county.
Elmer Coffey, Dalton officer, told of arresting the three with Sheriff Vining of Whitfield county.
Scott, wearing a fresh white shirt and obviously nervous, told of going on two trips to the Elrod house on June 2, leaving Eula at her father's home the first time and going to visit his children. Ab met him when he went back for Eula, Scott stated. "There is nobody here you want to see. Walter tried to kill her and she went away. Now he's got a shot gun to kill you," Scott quoted Ab as saying.
The defendant told of returning to Dalton with Pritchett and Eula whom they picked up in the road , of going to Thelma's room and consenting to take her to see about her mother.
Scott and Eula remained in the car, parked in the main road, while Thelma and Pritchett went to Ab's house, the defendant continued. When he heard Walker and Pritchett arguing he went to protect Pritchett.
Carter Pittman and W. B. Robinson, testifying for the defense, told that they were employed to defend Kermit Pritchett and had interviewed Thelma Elrod in Dalton shortly after the killing. At that time she said Scott had gone with her, Eula and Pritchett on the trip made to her father's home on the night of June 2, the attorneys claimed.
Immediately after the jury had gone out to deliberate the case of the state against Virgil Scott Wednesday afternoon, another jury was impanelled to try the case against Eula.
At about 3:30 Thursday afternoon Eula's trial was concluded. Three hours and fifty minutes later the jury returned to declare her guilty of murder with recommendation of mercy. The sentence automatically becomes life imprisonment.
Jurors and spectators who packed the courthouse moved to the edge of their seats in tense attention when Eula took the stand. She wore an orchid silk crepe dress. Once during her statement she broke down.
Eula's voice was low and weak as she told of going to her father's home on a mission for her sister. Her father greeted her cordially she said. Scott and Pritchett drove away promising to return for her shortly. Then her brother came from his home and started cursing her, she stated. He struck at her and her mother ran between them. She didn't know, she claimed, when she ran away to escape Walker, whether her mother had been hurt or killed. When she told Thelma of the fight later, Thelma asked Pritchett and Scott to take her to see about her mother, Eula said.
As Eula, Scott and Pritchett left the Elrod yard when Walker was lying in Thelma's lap Eula said Thelma told her to send Edwin Hodge for her. Eula admitted no part in the conspiracy to kill her brother.
Solicitor-General Paschall in the argument declared, "This is one of the worst murder cases I have ever seen tried. Evidence shows that Walker Elrod was opposed to Eula's conduct as any decent man would be and was trying to protect his aged parents' home from scandal. If the defendant had not been guilty of adultery with a man who had a wife and four children, Walker Elrod would be alive today."
Mr. Sellers pleaded with the jury not to be prejudiced or base their verdict on the reputation of the defendant. He emphasized the lack of evidence against them and accused the Elrods of being "stall-fed witnesses," all telling identical account of the killing.
Mr. Henderson made the final plea in Eula's behalf. He charged the state's attorney with being "grossly unfair for blaming the killing on the defendant's past life" and of trying a woman on her reputation.
It was believed that motion will be made for a new trial of Eula Elrod Thompson.
Old News Stories
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