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Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Connell Homicide.


A little past midnight, January 4, 1868, William Connell, age 21, was standing at the corner of Bowery and Bayard Streets, New York City, conversing with Maggie Brown and Emma Gardner, two young women in their teens. Richard Casey came up to them and flourished some bank notes in the faces of the women in an insulting manner, implying that they were prostitutes—which in fact they were. Connell took offense to the action and asked Casey what he meant by it. Casey asked if he was going to defend the women and Connell replied that he was a stranger there but did not like such conduct.

“Well I’m no stranger here,” said Casey, and knocked Connell’s hat off his head.

As Connell stooped to pick up his hat, Casey drew a revolver from a breast pocket and fired at his head. Connell cried out in agony and fell into the gutter; Casey shot him again. Then he pointed the pistol at Maggie Brown and said with a foul epithet, “I’ll finish you too.”



Maggie fled from the corner screaming, “Murder!”

Sergeant Kennedy rushed to the scene, drawn by the sound of gunshots and Maggie’s cries. He seized Casey by the throat, forced him against a telegraph post and easily disarmed him. The sergeant took Casey and the woman to the station house. When Connell was brought in, wounded but still alive, Casey said he had shot the pimp, and it served him right. He would shoot any other pimp under the same circumstances, as he had done it in self-defense.

Connell was probably a customer and not a pimp. The women worked out of a house on Market Street and claimed Connell was a casual acquaintance. When Connell died the following day, Richard Casey was charged with his murder.

At his trial in February, testimony was offered to prove that Casey, a few moments before the crime, had been assaulted in the street nearby and had been left insensible. This had so affected his mind that he was not responsible for his actions. The court excluded this evidence, and Casey’s defense was left with nothing but a few witnesses to show his previous good character. 

Richard Casey was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

Sources:
“Another Atrocious Murder,” Commercial Advertiser, January 4, 1868.
“City And Suburban Facts,” Commercial Advertiser, January 6, 1868.
“The Connell Homicide,” World, February 19, 1868.
“From New York,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 6, 1868.
“Page: 3,” Middletown Transcript, March 14, 1868.
“Shooting of William Connell,” Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 25, 1868.

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