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ElDorado's Legend Of Marshal Tucker
The Tucker-Parnell Feud
One of the witnesses to the early stages of the gunfight had called out County Sheriff Henry Clay Norris. By the time Norris arrived, gunsmoke from all the shooting had made it difficult to see. But Norris disarmed the men who were still standing- both Tuckers, Newton, and Jim Parnell, who was unscathed despite the bullet holes in his hat and clothes. Marshal Tucker had been shot during the battle. The extent of his wounds was variously reported, but he would survive and shortly resume his duties.
Sheriff Henry Clay Norris
The stunned bystanders now rushed in to do what they could, which was very little other than tallying the casualties. For the Parnells, they were especially heavy- Tom and Walter dead, Mat seriously hurt. The Tucker faction had suffered less but still counted Dearing dead, Marshal Tucker and Dr. Hilton wounded. With both principals in the Mullens shooting now dead, the grand jury's investigation was quietly shelved.
But an even graver situation now confrounted the community. Feelings ran high in the gunfights aftermath, and the governor called out the state militia to keep order in Eldorado.
A coroner's inquest was held into the downtown shooting and numerous charges were filed. The surprise was that the most serious charges were almost all against the surviving Parnells. Despite evidence that Mat Parnell had rushed to the scene of the shooting unarmed, he was accused of firing a pistol at dearing as he lay on the ground. Jim Parnell was accused of murder, although there was no evidence he actually had killed anyone. Mat Parnell was jailed, despite the severity of his stabbing.
Additional charges were filed against various participants on Tuckers side. Lawyers for the various parties quickly began negotiating and proposed a series of possible compromises. The Parnells feared that they were being railroaded by Tucker's backers in the legal establishment. Jim Parnell, who had fired one of the first shots of the fight, insisted on his right to a trail. ButMat Parnell, considered the brothers case lost already because of the support for Tucker. In the end, charges were dropped against all parties, with the agreement that Mat and Jim would leave the state, along with their sons. Dan Parnell, who had not even witnessed the fight but who had been ready to testify about the slaying of photographer Mullens, also was to leaveArkansas with his sons.finally, Kemper Parnell, 16 year old crippled child of Tom was also banished.
Despite the Parnells bitterness over their losses in and after the gunfight, the matter might have ended there. But another Parnell had yet to run afoul of Marshal Tucker. In mid-1903, a few months after the compromise intended to end the strife engulfing Eldorado, John Parnell wrote a letter to the local newspaper bemoaning the injustice he felt had been done to his brothers.
On August 8, nine months after the gunfight, Marshal Tucker accosted John Parnell on the same square where Tom and Walter had been shot to death. Tucker produced a hand gun, shot and killed John Parnell, then raced into the street, where he tried to mount a horse hitched there. The horse bolted, however and threw Tucker to the dirt street. Leaping up, he ran into the sheriff's office in the courthouse, where he was arrested. A pistol was found on John Parnells body.
This time, Tucker was charged with murder and brought to trial. The legal proceedings dragged on a year and a half, through three continuances. Tuckers trail was set to get underway two separate times in October 1904, but Tucker reported himself too ill to appear both times. Increasingly exasperated, the trial judge appointed two different committees of local doctors to examine Tucker. Both times, the doctors returned to tell the judge they considered the marshal too sick to attend court. finally, in March 1905, after more than 100 prospective jurors had been summoned and most disqualified, a jury of 12 county residents was seated to hear the case against Tucker. after a three day trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
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