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Charge of stealing a horse.

--Dr. B. S. Wooldridge, a young man from the country, was arraigned before the Mayor yesterday on the charge of stealing a horse from B. A. Cocke. Isaac N. Cocke testified that the horse belonged to his brother, and he had ridden the animal frequently up to the time of the evacuation. The horse was stolen on the occasion of General Lee's retreat, at the High Bridge, in Prince Edward county. He never saw the horse again until Wednesday last, when he met Dr. Wooldridge coming across Mayo's bridge with the horse, which he immediately identified. Mr. Cocke claimed the horse, and Dr. Wooldridge went to the father of the accused, and he told him to take the case before the Provost Judge, and that he would stick to or back him up. He seemed anxious to have the matter settled. Judge McEntee declined to have anything to do with the case, and it was referred to the Mayor. After this, the warrant was gotten out upon the advice of witness, and Dr. Wooldridge was arrested. Witness carried a gentleman, who proved the identity of the horse. The Doctor said he had a receipt to show that he purchased the animal. The identity was easily proved by various marks. He left the horse tied at night, and when he awoke in the morning it was gone.

B. A. Cocke testified that the horse was the same that he purchased in King William county from Dr. Downer. It was on his representation that the warrant was gotten out for the arrest of the accused. He had a conversation with his brother in regard to the matter, and he said that on the previous evening he met the horse on Mayo's bridge in possession of a young man by the name of Wooldridge, from Chesterfield county.

Captain T. B. Starke, Lieutenant Austin Smith, Major Louis J. Bossieux, Mr. Schonberger, (wagonmaster,) Dr. Harris, (surgeon in the Confederate army,) and Dr. Coakley, (also surgeon in the army,) testified that they identified the horse as one ridden by Isaac N. Cocke, as a courier, during the campaign below Richmond.

This closed the testimony for the Commonwealth. Witnesses for the defence were then sworn.

Dr. W. W. Parker, captain of a battery of artillery during the war, until he was promoted, testified that Dr. Wooldridge was a lieutenant under him, and rode a splendid cream-colored horse. He left the city with him on the morning of the 3d of April. Slept with him every night, and was with him every day until the day of the surrender. During the trying scenes of the war he conducted himself with extraordinary gallantry, and was promoted for his bravery and probity. He returned with Dr. Wooldridge to Manchester, and there they parted. His cream-colored horse was stolen at High Bridge, and afterwards he got a sorrel horse, which he rode back to Manchester, where they arrived about the 16th of April. Benjamin H. Finney, Esq., counsel for the accused, here presented a paper, given to Dr. Wooldridge by certain parties, showing that the transaction was a matter of fair bargain and sale, and that they had a perfect right to part with the horse. Dr. Merritt, of the Eighteenth Mississippi regiment, gave and signed the paper, which was attested to by three witnesses. Captain Sinton testified that he was acquainted with the handwriting of Captain Sampson, one of the witnesses. This was his signature. He was satisfied that he would not lend his aid to a fraudulent transaction. The signature of Captain Girard he was not so well acquainted with, but believed it to be his handwriting. Captain Sampson was a Federal officer, and came from near Boston. Witness was also in the Federal army. He did not know G. H. Bates — another witness who attested to the paper — but thought he was a wagonmaster in the Twenty-fourth Army Corps. Mr. D. S. Wooldridge, father of the accused, testified that, on the 13th of July, his son was in town, and he told him that he would pay for a horse which he had bargained for. Went out and heard a conversation between his son and the man who pretended to be the owner. His son afterwards returned to his office, and he gave him a check to pay for the horse. The animal was taken to Chesterfield, where it had been ever since. It had never been there before. He thought the price paid for the horse was high. The man who sold the horse declared that the title was undisputed. He told his son on Saturday that he ought not to give up the horse until the matter was legally investigated, in order that he might get redress from the party from whom he purchased the horse. He said nothing about backing him up, nor made any threat. The purchase was made in the open street, near the St. Charles Hotel. Recognized a telegraphic dispatch which he received from Mr. Ivey, of Lynchburg, in answer to a subpœna sent for the witness — G. H. Bates — stating that Bates was sick and unable to attend the investigation. Lawson Nunnally testified to the good character of Dr. Wooldridge for probity and integrity. No young man in his acquaintance was more correct and upright. James Blair testified to the same facts. He thought the idea of his stealing a horse was perfectly preposterous.

This closed the testimony for the defence. The Mayor said that, from all the evidence produced, he was satisfied that the horse was stolen, but that Dr. Wooldridge came by it honestly. He would therefore discharge him from further prosecution. Mr. Nance, counsel for Mr. Cocke, asked the Mayor what disposition he would make of the horse, and hoped it would be turned over to the lawful owner. This was strongly opposed by Mr. Finney, counsel for the defence, who contended that the question of possession must be decided by another tribunal. Mr. Nance argued that the corpus delicti was in possession of the court. He asked that the horse be returned to Mr. Cocke, the owner, and that the litigation might end here. Mr. Finney, in reply, said that the accused had been discharged, and was therefore remitted to his rights antecedent. He strongly advocated the delivery of the horse to Dr. Wooldridge.

The Mayor decided to leave the horse in the possession of Dr. Wooldridge, and let the proper owner have recourse to another tribunal for the possession of his property.

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B. S. Wooldridge (8)
D. S. Wooldridge (5)
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Benjamin H. Finney (3)
G. H. Bates (3)
Sampson (2)
Nance (2)
Mayo (2)
B. A. Cocke (2)
T. B. Starke (1)
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Merritt (1)
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Downer (1)
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Louis J. Bossieux (1)
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