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Slavery and the Making of AmericaDramatic re-enactment of a slave in uniform
Time and Place Slave Memories Resources The Slave Experience

The Slave Experience: Legal Rights & Gov't
Intro Historical Overview Character Spotlight You be the Judge Personal Narratives Original Docs
You be the Judge Legal Rights & Gov't
Missouri v. Celia (1855) return to introduction
Prosecution Witness 1 Defense Cross-Examination of Witness 1
Colonel Jefferson Jones, the nephew of John Jameson, testifies that in a conversation with Celia after her indictment and arrest she admitted that she and Newsom had been having sexual intercourse. Jones testifies that Celia told him that George, her boyfriend, also a slave, had demanded that she cease from engaging in sexual relations with Newsom. Jones describes the manner in which Celia killed Newsom and disposed of his body. Jones admits that he had heard that Newsom raped Celia immediately after her purchase, forced her into sexual relations in the following years and fathered her children. He says he cannot remember if Celia told him about the sexual abuse or if he heard it from another source. He testifies that Celia said she did not intend to kill Newsom, only to hurt him. However, the prosecution objects. The objection is sustained by the judge and the comment about Celia's intention is struck from the record.
Prosecution Witness 2 Defense Cross-Examination of Witness 2
Virginia Waynescot, Newsom's older daughter, relates the family's search for Newsom after he is discovered missing and describes efforts to recover his remains from Celia's cabin. Waynescot is asked about where Newsom slept in the house and if he was home before the murder. She testifies that Celia had been sick since February.
Prosecution Witness 3 Defense Cross-Examination of Witness 3
Coffee Waynescot, Newsom's grandson, describes the removal of Newsom's remains from Celia's Cabin. Coffee is also asked about where Newsom slept and if he was at home the night of the murder, but offers little information.
Prosecution Witness 4 Defense Cross-Examination of Witness 4
William Powell, a neighbor, describes the location of Newsom's remains in Celia's fireplace. Powell testifies that Celia originally denied knowing anything about Newsom's whereabouts and only confessed after being threatened with separation from her children and hanging. Powell admits that Celia said that Newsom repeatedly forced her to have sexual relations with him and that she had asked other family members to stop him from doing so. Powell also testifies that Celia said she meant only to hurt Newsom to stop his attack on her, not to kill him.
Prosecution Witnesses 5 and 6 Defense Witness 1
Two doctors are called to testify that the bones found in Celia's fireplace were those of an adult male. Dr. James M. Martin testifies to the difficulty of burning a body in a cabin fireplace. Hoping to suggest that Celia could not possibly have committed the murder alone, Jameson asks Dr. Martin how a young, sick, pregnant woman could have managed such an act alone. The prosecution objects. The objection is sustained and the question is struck from the record.
Prosecution Evidence Defense Witness 2
A confession, signed by Celia, on the scene of the crime the day after the murder.

[Note: In 1825, Missouri enacted a law declaring blacks to be incompetent in cases against whites. The defense was, therefore, unable to call Celia to the witness stand.]
Thomas Shoatman, who was present during Celia's conversation with Jefferson Jones, testifies that Celia said when she first struck Newsom he threw up his hand to catch her. The prosecution objects to the testimony and "to catch" her is struck from the record. Shoatman testifies that Celia said she struck Newsom a second time because he threw his hands up to catch her. Again, the prosecution objects. The objection is sustained, and the answer is struck from the record. Shoatman testifies that Celia struck without intent to kill, but only to hurt Newsom in order to keep him from having sexual intercourse with her. The prosecution objects to the reference to motive and the part of Shoatman's testimony regarding sexual intercourse is struck from the record.
Continue to Verdict
Photo of Missouri slave cabin
The Laws

Missouri "Slave Code" of 1804
Missouri statute of 1845, article 2, section 29
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