North Carolina

Washington County Courthouse

A Horrid Murder

Extracted from People's Press, (Salem) N.C., Vol. II., No. 46. January 1, 1853

Letters were received here, last week, from Hyde, Tyrell and Beaufort Counties, stating that Washington CARROWAN, a citizen of Hyde County, of some fifty years of age, and many years a Baptist Preacher, lately, on some frivolous pretext, knocked his wife down with a chair, and beat her with it until the chair broke to pieces, and then seized a large stick and continued to beat her,until a man named LASSITER, who boarded in the house, interfered to prevent her being murdered. Where upon, Carrowan took his gun to shoot Lassiter, but he disarmed him and left the house.

A few day afterwards, say on the 15th of last month, Lassiter chanced to go by the house, which stool near the public road, when Carrowan, seeing him pass, took his gun and ran through his field to cut him off, and overtook him in the savannah and shot him dead; then took up his victim, and carried him some half mile into the swamp, and threw him face down into the mud, and stomped him below the surface of the road, and covered over his body with brush, and then ran off, and made his escape from the County and eluded pursuit.

When last seen, he as at Washington enquiring the way to Wilmington Rail Road, and it is supposed, has pushed for the South and probably for California. He had been a hard working man and accumulated some five or six thousand dollars worth of property. He had been married three times, and has children by each marriage! and horrible to tell, circumstances have now come out that strongly indicate, that both of his deceased wives came to their deaths by his hands!! Mr. Lassiter was an educated man, very much of a gentleman, was was employed in teaching Geography upon some new principle; and had not been long in Hyde county. It is to be hoped the fleeing murderer will not succeed in making his escape from justice. -- Raleigh Register.

Trial of Rev. Geo. W. Carawan for the Murder of Clement H. Lassiter

There has been great excitement in Washington the past week, on account of the trial of Rev. George W. CARRAWAN for the murder of C. H. LASSITER in Hyde County in November last. Carawan was arraigned before the Superior Count of Hyde at the Spring term of this year, and on his affidavit that he could not have justice done in Hyde, the case was removed to Beaufort. The trial commenced on Wednesday last in the Superior County. Judge BAILEY presiding.

The case was managed on the part of the State by Geo. S. STEVENSON, Solicitor, E. J. WARREN and D. M. CARTER, Esqs; and for the defence by James W. BRYAN, F. B. SATTERWAITE, and W.B. REDMON, Esqs, and Hon. R. S. DONNELL. We doubt if ever a case was ever tried which was more thoroughly prepared on both sides than was this, or in which more ability and fidelity to their trusts were displayed by Councel. The trial occupied six days.

Carawan is 56 years old, and for many years has been a popular preacher in the Baptist Church - a man of strong will, excerising a powerful influence over his friends, and feared as much as hated by his foes. Lassiter was a quiet young man, engaged in the business of teaching. Some months before the murder, Lassiter boarded in the house of Carawan, and a quarrel arose between them, Carawan alleging that Lassiter was too familiar with his (C.'s) wife. Carawan talked very freely among his neighbors on the subject - said that L. ought to be shot - that shooting was too good for him, and that he and L. could not both live in the same neighborhood, &c., &c., and finally tried to get out a peace warrant against L. alleging that he had attempted to take his life. It went on in this way for some time, when L. sued him for slander, laying the damages at $2000. A few hours after the writ was served on C., Lassiter was killed.

The defence st up for the prisoner was that three of the witnesses (including Sawyer) has sworn falsely, committed wilful and deliverate perjury, and that it was impossible for Carawan to have goine through the woods, after Lassiter passed his house, quick enough to cut him off. The danger of convicting a man of murder on circumstantial evidence, has been learnedly and ingenously and elaborately dwelt upon by the counsel for the defince. In fact, there has been more ingnuity and skill displayed by theim in the progress of this, than we ever expected to see exhibited in any one trial. On the other side, in behalf of the State, there has been no less ability manifested, though their work has been apparently one of easier performance. The trial has been deeply interesting, not only on accout of the facts disclosed, but also the the tact and power displayed by counsel.

The general opinion among those who have heard the trial - indeed we may say the unanimous opionion, so far as we have been able to gather it - is that Carawan is guilty of the murder.

Carawan has maintained his self control throughout the trial, even when the clothes worn by Lassiter when he was killed, were exhibited in Court, pierced with bullet holes and stained with blood. He is as fine a looking man as one would find among a thousand - tall, admirably built, with a massive head, showing with enormous animal passions, large intellect. These passions have destroyed him, having given himself all his life to their unbridled sway. His wife, apparently about his own age, and his 3 children, have been with him during the trial, accompaying him to and from the Court House and Jail. It is a melancholy sight.


The Verdict----Guilty!----Carawan shoots Mr. Warren and kills himself!

At half=past eight this morning the jury come in with a verdict of guilty. Mr. Bryan moved that the jury be polled. This was done, each juror as his name was called, answering -- "guilty." The Judge then discharged the jury, and ordered a recess of the Court for one hour.

Just as the crowd commenced to leave, a report of a pistol was heard, followed immediately by another. Carawan had two self-cocking signle barrel pistols. With one he aimed at Mr. Warren. The ball struck just above his heart and glanced, making but a slight wound. With the other, he shot a hold through his own heard. As we are going to press, he lies a corpose in the prisoner's box.

As may well be supposed, there is intense exceitement in the community.

Extracted from People's Press, (Salem) N.C., Vol. III., No. 43. December 10, 1853

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