Part 2 - The Kin Maynard Murder Trial

Marker in the Spencer Town Cemetery, Placed by Dwight Haston After the Original Comb/Tent Grave Stones Were Removed by Cemetery Managers

After his initial arrest and preliminary hearing in Van Buren County, Kin Maynard escaped and fled to Texas, where he lived for more than a year before being arrested again.

Kin Maynard Was Arrested in Texas

The Tennessean (Nashville) - April 22, 1899, page 4

Kin Maynard Was Returned to Sparta and Charged with Murder

The Tennessean - May 18, 1899, page 5

What is habeas corpus in simple terms?  The “Great Writ” of habeas corpus is a fundamental right in the Constitution that protects against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment. Translated from Latin it means “show me the body.” Habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument to safeguard individual freedom against arbitrary executive power.

Circuit Court Judge Disposed of the Kin Maynard Case in Sparta

The Tennessean - May 21, 1899, page 4

The State of Tennessee vs. Kin Maynard, April 1901 - October 1902

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court - 2nd Monday in April 1901, page 244, Volume F (1901)

Notes Related to the Above Court Record

One – Judge M.D. Smallman

Judge Small presided this session of the State vs. Kin Maynard murder case.  Another judge took over the case the next year.

Two – Haston vs. Haston

D.L. Haston and I.S. Haston were brothers of Kin Maynard’s mother, Berthina, and thus, Kin’s uncles.  They put up bond money for their nephew in the “murder of Woody Haston” case.  

Three – Erb Lewis

In early August of 1898, Erb Lewis was tried and bound over to court for ambushing Newell Troglen with a shotgun on Cane Creek in Van Buren County, TN. (Nashville Banner, August 9, 1898, page 7)

Four – Sophia Mitchell

Sophia Mitchell (Sparkman) - Left

Sophia Mitchell was called to give a deposition in the case.  She would have been 16 years old at the time of the killing of Woody Haston and lived very near where Woody and his family lived.

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court, October 29, 1901, Volume F, page 252

Kin Maynard's Uncles I.S. Haston and D.L. Haston and the $10,000 Bond

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court - October 29, 1901, page 253 Volume F (1901)
Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court - April 29, 1902, page 258 Volume F

Three Defaulting Jurors

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court, October 28, 1902, Volume F, page 278

Kin Maynard's "Not Guilty" Plea & Jury Selection

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court, October 28, 1902, Volume F, page 279

Note: This was the first day that Judge Joseph C. Higgins presided over a Van Buren County, TN court session.  He was only 30 years old at the time.  The State vs. Kin Maynard murder case was the first murder case Judge Higgins actually presided over (to a verdict) in Van Buren County and probably one of the first murder cases he had ever dealt with as a judge.
See more about Judge Joseph C. Higgins below.

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court, October 28, 1902, Volume F, page 278

The Jury's Verdict Deliberations

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court, October 29, 1902, page 280, Volume F

The Jury's Verdict

Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court - October 30, 1902, page 283 Volume F

The Jury's Verdict in the State vs. Kin [Kendrick] Maynard Murder Trial

Nearly five years (1,777 days) after the death of Woody Haston, Kin Maynard was declared to be not guilty.

Nashville (TN) Banner, October 31, 1902, page 8

Prosecutorial Evidence Supporting Kin Maynard's Murder Charge

And Perhaps More That We Are Not Aware Of
  1. Kin and Woody had been arguing before they left the event at the school.
  2. Apparently, Kin Maynard was the only person with Woody Haston, when Woody was killed.
  3. Kin confessed to the two Mitchell boys that he killed Woody.
  4. Kin fled from the area in the morning following the killing.
  5. Kin fled to Texas after his preliminary hearing at the Cummingsville Church.  He lived in Texas for more than a year before he was located and returned to Tennessee for a trial.

Now, YOU Be the Jury

If You Were On This Jury

Judge Joseph C. Higgins - Circuit Court Judge for Kin Maynard Murder Trial

Judge Higgins was a 30-year-old “rookie” judge, with only about a half-year of experience on the bench, when he held trial for the State of Tennessee vs. Kendrick (Kin) Maynard murder case.  Did his lack of experience influence the outcome of the trial? Or not?  We’ll probably never know. 

The October 1902 Circuit Court session held in Spencer (Van Buren County), Tennessee was the first session of that court in which Judge Joseph C. Higgins presided.  That’s the session in which Kin Maynard was declared “not guilty” by the jury.  (Page 269 of Van Buren County, TN Circuit Court, Tuesday morning, October 28, 1902)

The Chattanooga News 17 May 1902, Saturday, Page 3

Mr. Higgins was raised on a farm with only the opportunities of a “three months district school.”  The greater part of his education was acquired by home study, without the aid of a tutor.  A age seventeen, he mapped out a course of study, including Latin, German, English, and mathematics which he diligently pursued for four years.  

He was never known to resort to sharp practices, nor to have given countenance to a questionable act.  By his studious habits and untiring application, he stood among the leaders of his bar.  

Mr. Higgins enjoyed the distinction of being the youngest judge ever elected in this state of Tennessee, as he attained his thirtieth year on the 13th day of May 1902. 

He was the son of Judge George W. Higgins, a valiant captain in the Confederate army, and the nephew of George W. Stone, chief justice of the supreme court of Alabama.  

One hundred representatives of Lincoln County (TN), from every vocation and profession, stood by “Little Joe” in the Tullahoma Convention.

Kin Maynard, After the Murder Trial

December 6, 1902 Marriage of Kin Maynard to Cynthia Petitt.
Died, January 23, 1943 and buried in the the Jericho Cemetery in Quebeck, TN (White County)

Postscript - Kendrick Maynard, Senior's Big Bootlegging Bust in 1873

The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) · 24 Dec 1873, Wed · Page 4

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One thought on “Part 2 – The Kin Maynard Murder Trial

  1. Love your research and stories. Keep ‘em coming and you might have enough for a Netflix or Amazon Prime documentary or mini-series on rough ‘n ready Van Buren County.

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