Griffith Sentenced in Lewis' Death in 1921


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 3/31/1921.

Griffith Sentenced for Life

Moundsville, W. Va., March 29, - W.H. Griffith owes his life to the Bible, according to one of the jurymen who found the convict "guilty with a recommendation for mercy," last night of the slaying of Henry Lewis in the penitentiary here January 6th.

The juror declared that on the pleas of the defense on arguments culled from the Bible that capital punishment was not justifiable the twelve men were swayed.

On five occasions the Court stopped Defense Attorney J. Howard Holt, in his arguments on the grounds he was quoting the Bible and not clinging to the matter adduced in the trial.

Griffith, upon being informed of the incident, remarked that he had always been a firm believer in the "Old Book."


Moundsville W. Va., March 28 - Agreeing upon their verdict at 5:5_ o'clock tonight, the jury in the Marshall county circuit court, trying W.H. (Holly) Griffith for the murder of Henry Lewis, a fellow convict in the West Virginia Penitentiary, on the occasion of his escape from that institution, found Griffith guilty of murder, in the first degree, with a recommendation of life imprisonment and five months solitary confinement.  The jury had been out since Saturday afternoon.

Griffith's lawyers presented a motion for a stay of judgment, which will be acted upon later.  Whether Griffith will be tried in Marshall or Mason counties in connection with the death of Ira Roush, of Antiquity, Ohio, remains to be decided by the state supreme court of appeals.  A decision covering the jurisdiction in that case is expected to be handed down soon.

Griffith, serving a life term for a murder in Braxton county, is alleged on January 9th, to have fired the prison work shop, disabled the power plant machinery, throwing the prison into darkness.  The testimony (illegible) to show that Griffith cut Lewis, who opposed him, and then made his escape over the prison walls.  It is alleged that while fleeing down the Ohio river, he met Roush at Point Pleasant, W. Va. and robbed him of a large sum of money after having negotiated with his victim for the purchase of a motor boat.  Later Roush's body was found in the river.  Griffith was last reported at Portsmouth, Ohio, near Cincinnati, but a month later a country constable in South Carolina placed him under arrest, though he was armed with three pistols and had sworn never to be taken alive.  His return to Moundsville and the trial ending today followed.