Four men, J.C. Watkins, H.D. Scroggs, M.S. Vinson and Cliff Robinson pleaded not guilty at their trial on March 13, 1917 to the murder of Joseph W. Cash. The result of the trial was a verdict of guilty and all four were sentenced to life imprisonment. A year after they went to jail, one of the four stated that he alone committed the murder. The other three were released by the court and declared not guilty on August 19, 1918. It is documented that J.C. Watkins was not guilty, but the others are unknown.
At the trial, the first witness was Reuben Cash, son of Joseph W. Cash. Reuben declared that his father weighed about 135 pounds, was killed on the sixth day of January, was "pretty weak, broken down, and crippled, had his left hand cut off and had rheumatism in his right arm". He stated that Joe was last seen going home from his sister's house, through the old Cash place and through the Wheeler Orchard, a direct route to his home and a trip of about six miles. Joe was not allowed to drive the team as he was crippled. Reuben mentioned that his father would be coming from Will Brown's house along a little roadway crossing a little north of where Mr. Edwards lives and along a pathway through there by a man named Schutters.
The next person to testify was Will Brown. Will stated it was about 1.5 miles to the Wheeler Orchard and that he saw Joseph W. Cash after noon as he came by his house from Joe Lathan's. He said that he went with the authorities and tracked Joseph up the mountain to where he was found dead. The authorities brought a shoe that fit the tracks through the orchard to a spring and then about 100 yards farther to the body. It was mentioned that there was evidence that Joseph had cut a cane along the way. Will testified he saw the blood and evidence of shot fired through the twigs about 15 feet from where Joe fell. There were questions about the path and the location of the Schutters and Edwards place.
Lee Walden testified that he was there at the time that Joseph W. Cash was killed by a shotgun, and testified that there were four guns in the crowd. When asked if all four defendants shot, he answered, "I suppose so". He testified to be within 20 feet of the killers. Joseph was about 30 or 40 yards from the four men when the guns went off. Joseph was coming up the spring path and the four men were by a woodpile. He stated the defendants told the person coming up the path to put up his hands and speak, but he just kept coming with nothing in his hands. He said all four fired together and it sounded like thunder. He went to where he was laying about 30 minutes after being shot and he was still alive then.
Each of the defendants made similar statements that they were sent down there to watch for people who were steeling from the orchard by Mr. Edwards. Edwards said people were taking the barrels away from the place. They were told to take guns and to shoot and to be careful not to get shot. Robinson stepped across the road and this fellow turned a barrel over and poured the water out and put it on his shoulder and started down the branch and we hollered and said "what you doing with that barrel" and he throwed the barrel down and turned and started on us and we saw he had a white shirt on from the waist of his breeches and up he kept coming on us and when he got in thirty five or forty steps he brought out an oath and said kill you if I can and throwed gun up on us and fired and of course we fired too. Thought it was that or be killed, and he run back down the road towards Cook house....Found it was the old man, Mr. Cash.... That is the first time we knew about him being there. They asked his name and he said Joe Cash that was all he said. Two went to get Mr. Edwards and when they got back, Joe was dead. Edwards phoned the sheriff and we stayed with the old man till sheriff come up.
Source: Copy of summary supplied by Lamar Wilbanks.