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The Murder of Louis Riley




Vaiden Man Killed

The Conservative, August 7, 1959.  P. 1.



Bill Richards, operator of a roadside stand near Vaiden, shot and killed Louis Riley, also of Vaiden, in a pool room in the Town of Vaiden Thursday morning about 8:30.


Deputy Sheriff Charger Michie said that the shooting climaxed over an argument that started Wednesday.


Riley was shot one time, died instantly, the deputy said.  Richards has been lodged in jail at Carrollton.




Saturday Rites For Louis C. Riley Held In Vaiden

The Conservative, August 14, 1959.  P. 1.



Services for Louis C. Riley, who died on Aug. 4 were held Saturday morning at 10 a.m. from his home in Vaiden with the Rev. John McBride, pastor of the Baptist Church officiating with burial in the Bethel Cemetery near Duck Hill.


Mr. Riley was a native of Montgomery County but moved to Vaiden a number of years ago.  He was engaged in the cattle business.


He leaves his wife; four sons, Robert J. Riley of Texas, L.C. Riley, Jr., Teddy Riley, and Pat Riley, all of Vaiden; one daughter, Miss Jeanette Riley, of Berkley, Calif.; six brothers, Henry Riley, Robert Riley and Willie Riley; three sisters, Mrs. Watt Doster, Mrs. Leroy Hodges, and Mrs. Charles Van Nomen.




Court Opens Vaiden Fall Term Monday

Probable Retrial of Goldsby Case Will Attract Wide Attention;

Other Capital Cases On Docket

The Conservative, November 5, 1959.  Pp. 1, 2.


Court and law enforcement officials at Carroll County’s second district courthouse in Vaiden are expected to be overwhelmed with visitors next week as the regular fall term of Circuit Court opens on Monday, Nov. 12, with the much-publicized Goldsby case set for probable retrial.


Robert Lee Goldsby, a native of Canton, and then resident of St. Louis was sentenced to die in 1954 for the fatal shooting of Mrs. Moselle Nelms as she rushed to the aid of her husband, wounded during an argument with Goldsby and other Negroes with him.


Legal maneuvering, appeals and hearings that eventually reached all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States have resulted in staying Goldsby’s execution to this date, and in fact have resulted in an ultimatum of retrying or releasing within eight months.


Goldsby has been held under death sentence at the Mississippi penitentiary at Parchman, but will be brought to Vaiden on Monday by the time set for court to convene.


First, however, there will be the usual routine of empanelling the Grand Jury and the Petit Jury.  Then will come the charge to the Jury by Judge Henry Lee Rodgers, Circuit Judge of the Fifth Circuit District of Louisville.


There are only five civil cases slated to be brought up at this term in an unusually light civil docket, and these are slated to be disposed of next.


It is assumed that the Goldsby case will be then taken up, although there are three capital offenses awaiting action by the Grand Jury, which may result in trials at this term of court.  One is the case of Bill Richards, accused in the pool room slaying of Louis Riley on August 5.  Both were white residents of Vaiden.


Another pending matter is the shooting of Willie Thomas by O.T. Williams.  Both are Negroes and Thomas, seriously injured, is recovering.  The third matter is the alleged rape of Negro China Terrell by Negro Wardell Givens.


It is assumed that the Goldsby case will be set first because according to Circuit Clerk George Tubeville, Jr., certified copies of the motion for retrial by District Attorney John E. Aldridge of Winona were sent stating that the case would be set and called on November 12.  Copies were sent to all principals including Negro attorney George Leighton of Chicago and court appointed attorneys John Prewitt of Vicksburg and Rupert Ringold of Winona who defended Goldsby in the first trial.


Circuit Clerk Tubeville has received response from Leighton indicating that he would be present Monday.  He had not heard from the two white Mississippi court appointed attorneys as of Wednesday.


Governor-Elect Ross Barnett, who participated in the original case as an attorney retained by Bryant Nelms, husband of the murder victim, has indicated that he will participate in this trial again assisting District Attorney Aldridge.  Besides the governor-elect, other distinguished attorneys, reporters and photographers, and interested observers are expected to be present and strain the capacity of Vaiden’s small courthouse to the utmost.


Goldsby’s original conviction was appealed by Leighton, former Assistant Illinois Attorney General, on the grounds that there were no Negroes on the jury that convicted Goldsby.  The latest appeal fared better than Leighton’s first appeal in 1956 on the same grounds.  In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mere absence of members of a race was insufficient grounds to overturn a conviction.


But in Leighton’s appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, decided in January of this year, the court ruled that Goldsby was tried by an unconstitutional jury, one from which Negroes were systematically excluded.  Mississippi law limits jury duty to men who are qualified voters.  There were no Negro qualified electors in Carroll County at the time of the trial, and at the time of the appeal there were no applicants for registration.


The wide publicity given the case, the legal maneuverings of the past five years and the unprecedented order to retry or release the defendant have all contributed to the interest in this case.  The court at Vaiden will most certainly be in the headlines, observers believe.


[Ed. Note: In the same issue of The Conservative, P. 1., a list of 50 men summoned for jury duty was published.  If the Goldsby case had been retried at Vaiden, my father, Alf T. Collins, and my uncle, Wilson M. Caddess, had both been summoned as potential jurors for this term of court, and would have possibly been empanelled.]



Carroll County Court Minutes – 2nd District (1959)


Continuance for Bill Richards – Document Image


P. 197.  Case against Bill Richards is continued until next term of court.


P. 199.  Murder charge against Richards reduced to manslaughter.  Richards sentenced to 5 years in the State Penitentiary, with the sentence suspended.



Venue Change Given Goldsby

Goldsby Case Moved To Jackson;

Others Plead Guilty; Court Ends

The Conservative, November 12, 1959.  P. 1.



There was a quiet and almost anti-climatic ending to the fall term of court in Vaiden as Judge Henry Lee Rodgers granted a change of venue in the trial of Negro Robert Lee Goldsby, already convicted in 1954 for the slaying of a Vaiden resident, Mrs. Moselle Nelms.


Court appointed defense attorney Rupert Ringold of Winona argued the motion to change the scene of the second trial from Carroll to another county.  It was opposed by District Attorney Johnny Aldridge who was supported in his arguments by both Governor-elect Ross Barnett and Mississippi’s Attorney General, Joe T. Patterson.


In essence, a change of venue means that Goldsby will be prosecuted, defended, and judged by the same court officials who have already participated in the trial up to now, but the jury will be chosen from within the county of Hinds where the new trial is to be held.


Other cases pending in the court were also quickly disposed of.


Bill Richards, accused of the murder of Louis Riley in a pool room shooting that took place in Vaiden in August had his case continued to the May Term of court on plea of his attorney that Richards was physically unable to stand trial at this time.


Negro O.T. Williams plead guilty to the shooting of Willie Thomas and was sentenced by Judge Rodgers to a two-year term in the penitentiary.  Thomas, also colored, was not present for the trial as he has not been located since his recovery from the shooting.


Another Negro, Wardell Givens, plead guilty to the rape of China Terrell, was sentenced to serve 10 years at Parchman.


Goldsby, who had been brought to Vaiden heavily guarded by Mississippi Highway Patrolmen, was taken to the Hinds County jail in Jackson.  Judge Rodgers set the date to be during the week of December 7.



Bill Richards Gets Suspended Sentence

The Conservative, November 10, 1960.  P. 1.


Bill L. Richards, 55 year old Vaiden man, Tuesday was given a five year suspended sentence for the slaying of farmer Louis Riley there a year ago.


Bill Richards entered a guilty plea in Carroll County Circuit Court Tuesday.  He was charged with shooting Riley, 46, on a Vaiden street the day after the gubernatorial election in August, 1959.


Richards, initially charged with first degree murder, changed his plea of innocent when the court reduced the charge to manslaughter at the beginning of [the] Tuesday hearing.  Dist. Atty. Chatwin Jackson, who had asked the death penalty of Richards protested.


Richards’ attorneys were Rupert Ringold of Winona and John Shands of Tupelo.


Sources considered to be informed in the matter reported that a civil suit brought against Richards by the widow of Riley had been settled for $75,000.  However Circuit Clerk George Tubeville, Jr. said that his records showed that the case was still pending and that no disposition of the case had been reported through his office.


[Ed. Note:  Bill Richards was actually 50, instead of 55, as stated in this article.]



Richards Must Serve Suspended Prison Sentence

Winona Times, July 20, 1961.  P.1.


[Ed. Note:  The sentence syntax in the following article is presented exactly as it was printed.]


Bill Richards of Vaiden, who was given a suspended five year sentence after his conviction on manslaughter charge in 1960 when he pled guilty to a reduced charge in connection with the pool hall slaying Riley, has been ordered to serve the prison term by Circuit Judge Marshall Perry in a hearing at Winona last week.


Judge Perry said that he ordered Richards who owned and operated various night clubs in this area, to serve the suspended sentence after his arrest for public drunkenness.




Bill Richards Dies Suddenly at Residence

The Conservative, May 6, 1965.


Bill Ledell Richards died suddenly Saturday at his residence at Vaiden.  He was 55.  Last Rites were held Sunday at 2:00 at the Chapel of Winona Funeral Home with Rev. Morris Taylor [officiating].


Mr. Richards was born December 20, 1909 in Carroll County.  He was a member of the McCarley Methodist Church.


He is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Hilda R. Watkins and Mrs. Sara R. Kehle, both of Canton; one son, Holmes Liddell Richards of Paris Island, South Carolina; one sister, Mrs. Lamar White of Jacksonville, Florida; one brother, James Richards, Yazoo City; and one grandchild.


Pallbearers were Bart Fowler, H.R. Michie, Waymon Ware, Buddy Eades, L.J. Chambley, and T.D. Golden.


Interment was in the Philadelphia Cemetery under the direction of Winona Funeral Home. [Ed. Note: The correct year of birth for Bill Richards is 1908. The correct cemetery name is Cedarlawn Cemetery in Philadelphia, MS]