Thursday, November 29, 2012

Millers Flat Murder

Following are some contemporary reports about the murder of Joseph Augustin Roggiero at the hand of his father in law (Alister's ancestor), John Francis Kitto.  More information about the family is contained here.   

The 1 June 1882 edition of the Grey River Argus reported:

Dunedin, May 30.
With respect to the man Kitto, the perpetrator of the recent Miller's Flat murder, it has transpired that about four years ago he was an inmate of Dunedin Lunatic Asylum for a month.
At that time, however, he was perfectly quiet and inoffensive, his delusion consisting only in a deeply-seated grudge against the son-in-law Roggiero, who has now become his victim.
Threats by Kitto against the latter are recorded in the books of the institution, and Kitto was possessed by the remarkable idea that Roggiero was the devil, an hallucination which probably accounts for the exclamation “Praise be to God," when informed of the fatal effect of his shot.
There is no further news to hand concerning the murder at Miller's Flat on Sunday night. Klogh, the son-in-law, who was wounded by Kitto, is progressing favorably.
May 31.
At the coroner's inquest yesterday, Kitto was committed for trial for wilful murder. He was discharged from the Lunatic Asylum in October, 1878 and has since resided with his family at Miller's Flat. He had not shown any signs of insanity since his discharge.

The Otago Daily Times edition of 16  June 1882 laid out all their earlier stories, to give the reader a time line of sorts, and then updated the reader on the inquest happenings:

Roxburgh, May 29th.
A man named John Kitto, of Miller's Flat, went to the residence of his son-in-law, Joseph Augustus Roggiero, about 7 o'clock last night and without any warning, shot through the window with a rifle at Roggiero, who was sitting by the fire.
The screams of Roggiero's wife attracted her brother-in-law, who had to pass Kitto's house.
Kitto shot at him also, the ball entering the wrist and coming out at the elbow. Roggiero died a short time afterwards. Kitto, who was in the Lunatic Asylum some time ago, came to Roxburgh and gave himself up to the police.

Kitto is now in the lock-up at Roxburgh. He is evidently suffering from religious mania. When told that his son-in-law was dead, he replied, “Praise be to God!”

It is just reported at Roxburgh that unfavourable symptoms are showing in the wounded man, whose name is Kloogh.
Dr M'Carthy, with Sergeant-major Moore, are expected from Lawrence this evening.

With respect to the man Kitto, the perpetrator of the recent murder at Miller's Flat, it has transpired that he was some four yeavs ago an inmate, of the Dunedin Lunatic Asylum. He was at that time, however, perfectly quiet and inoffensive in his behaviour, his delusion consisting only in a deep-seated grudge, against the son-in-law, Joseph Augustus Roggiero, who has now become his victim. Threats uttered by Kitto against the latter are recorded in the books of the institution, and Kitto was possessed by the remarkable idea that Roggiero was the devil, an hallucination that probably accounts for his exclamation “Praise be to God” when informed of the fatal effect of his shot. Kitto was only detained a month in the Asyum, and was then dismissed as presumably cured.
The Mount Benger Mail gives the following further particulars as to the insanity, of the man Kitto:—"For a month past he has been more unsettled than usual, and on the day in question he was decidedly worse. He believed himself to be the Saviour (or Joseph), his brothers and son-in-law being imps of Satan, Roggiero being Satan himself. After the occurrence he crossed the river in his own boat and made straight for Roxburgh, where he stated to the police that he was inspired by God to commit the deed, and was on his way to the New Jerusalem. Kitto's friends have recently spoken to several people in Roxburgh about the state of his mind, but unfortunately nothing was done. He says he has no fear of man, as God will see that no harm befalls him."

John Kitto, the man charged with the murder of Roggiero at Miller's Flat, has been transferred from the Gaol to the Lunatic Asylum. The prisoner, since his lodgment in gaol, has been examined by competent medical authorities, who pronounce him insane. Their report was forwarded to the Hon. the Colonial Secretary, who ordered Kitto's removal to the Asylum pending his trial at the ensuing sessions of the Supreme Court.

Peter Kloogh, who was taken to the Hospital on Monday, June 12, is fast recovering. It appears he had been staying at the London Hotel, where he had very comfortable quarters, and was progressing remarkably well until Saturday morning, when an artery suddenly gave way in the shattered limb. Fortunately the doctor in attendance on the case was in the immediate neighbourhood, and the bleeding was completely stopped in less than five minutes from the time of the accident. No bleeding has occurred since then but it was deemed advisable by the doctor to have him removed to the Hospital, as he will require to be closely watched day and night in the event of a recurrence of the bleeding.

W. Pool, constable in charge of Roxburgh police-station, stated: On Sunday night, 28th inst., at 9.15, a man named John Kitto called at Roxburgh and informed me he wished to give himself up. I asked him his reason. He replied, for shooting his two sons-in-law. He had a gun in his left hand, which he handed to me at my request, saying "This is the gun I did it with—take care of it, it is loaded." I asked him," Who are your two sons-in-law?" He replied he did not know, but knowing accused, I asked him if he meant Peter Kloogh and "Mexican Joe." He said he supposed so.' I then locked him up.
While searching him, I said, "What brought this about?" He replied, "I will answer before a judge."
I have examined the gun; it appears to be loaded; it is a single-barrel, and the nipple has been blown off. I proceeded to Miller's Flat to make inquiry if there was any truth in Kitto's statement.
On arriving at Peter Kloogh's residence, I found he had been wounded in the arm. He said he could not see the man who shot him, but thought it was the old man, John Kitto. I then proceeded to Roggiero's—it was about 2 a.m. - and found him lying on his bed dead, with a wound in his right side. I now produce the gun received from Kitto at the lock-up. I produce the bullet handed to me by Dr McCarthy, who said he took it from deceased's body, at the back part. The bullet appears to fit the bore of the gun.
Samuel Moore: I am sergeant-major of constabulary, stationed at Lawrence. About 11 o'clock this morning (30th inst.), at Ettrick, I asked the accused, Kitto, if he had any other name but John. He replied: "My name is John Francis Kitto." He added: "After I shot Roggiero I went towards my own house, and I saw Kloogh running to catch me. He hunted a dog on me but the dog turned on himself, and prevented him getting away. When I shot him it was near the fence."
Charles Edward DeLacy McCarthy, medical practitioner, residing at Lawrence, stated: I arrived at Miller's Flat and went to see Niels Peter Kloogh at 9 p.m., and found him suffering from a gunshot wound in the right arm. This morning I made a post-mortem examination on the body of Augustus Roggiero (deceased). A bullet had gone through the left lobe of the liver and one lung, fracturing the tenth rib on the right side, and lodging there. I extracted the bullet (now produced). Death was caused by a gunshot wound and the haemorrhage from the lung caused by the bullet.
James Kitto, miner, Moa Flat, deposed: The accused John Francis Kitto is my brother. He is about 50 years of age, a married man, with a wife and 10 children, six being at Home. When my brother was 15 years of age he had a severe fall of seven fathoms in a coal-mine and injured his head, and since that he has never appeared to be the same, always appearing light-headed.
He was in the Lunatic Asylum four years ago. He appears now to be worse than ever I saw him before, and he says he glories in what he has done.
The Jury then retired, and returned with a verdict of "Wilful murder" against the accused John Francis Kitto.
When the accused was brought in for identification the scene was most heartrending. On Sergeant-major Moore requesting the wife of the deceased to look at the accused, she exclaimed, "That's the wretch who did it. He is my father, but I can call him so no more." Accused merely uttered the words, Praise be to God.
The inquiry was concluded at about 8 o'clock in the evening.
An inquest was held by Jonas Harrop, Esq., J.P., acting coroner, on Tuesday, at the residence of the murdered man Roggiero, at Miller's Flat. Mr Nicholson was sworn foreman of the Jury; and after the Jury had viewed the body, an adjournment was made to the residence of Peter Kloogh. Sergeant-major Moore conducted the inquiry.
Niels Peter Kloogh, the wounded man, whose evidence was taken in bed, deposed: I am a miner, residing on the east bank of the river at Miller's Flat. I remember Sunday evening, the 28th inst. I was in my house and about 20 minutes past 6 p.m. I heard the shot of a gun. It was moonlight, I heard a scream, and then went outside. I saw two of Wm. Kitto's children coming towards my house. They were running. They told me that John Murray had accidentally shot Joseph Roggiero. The children are about 10 and 11 years of age. I then ran as hard as I could towards Roggiero's. On the way I met Betsy Ann Roggiero, wife of deceased, near John Kitto's fence, and near his house. She said the old man (meaning John Kitto) had shot Joe (meaning her husband), now deceased. From what Mrs Roggiero told me, I ran to give what assistance I could to deceased. When I proceeded about 10 or 12 steps I received a bullet wound in my right arm. Mrs. Roggiero went in the opposite direction. I was shot on the path near John Kitto's house, when about four yards from the fence, I saw a man standing between John Kitto's house and the fence when I received the shot and immediately my hand dropped and I heard the report of a gun. The man was about 20 yards distant from me when I received the shot. I could not recognise the man. I noticed the flash from the gun. I feel satisfied that I was shot by that man. I did not notice any gun but came home again. The man appeared to have on dark clothing. I am acquainted with John Kitto; he is my father-in-law. He answered the description of the man whom l saw ancl who wounded me, and resides in the house with his wife and family. I am not aware of any ill feeling, but we have not been speaking for some time. I heard his family say he did not care to converse with anyone. About Tuesday last I saw John Kitto's son William carrying a gun at Miller's Flat. I recognise tho gun now produced it is not the one William Kitta carried, but it is John Kitto, jun.'s gun. I recognise it by the brass mountings and large barrel. On returning to my house after receiving the shot, I met my wife, Tamar, I told her that I was shot too. I asked a man named James Burns to go for a doctor. He caused Dr McCarthy to be sent for from Lawrence. At the time I received the wound my dog was with me.
Betsy Ann Roggiero, wife of deceased, deposed: I remember Sunday evening last. My husband was sitting in the rocking-chair, putting the baby to sleep, at 20 minutes past 6 o'clock by our clock. The child is four months old. He was sitting in the kitchen near the fire nearly opposite the window, and facing it. There are only two rooms in the house (bedroom and kitchen), one window in each room. There is only one door to the house, which opens to the outside. About the time stated (6.20 p.m.) I was standing at the end of the table washing up after tea. A shot was fired through the kitchen window, which struck my husband in the breast.   He exclaimed, “My God, Annie, someone has shot me!” I said, “Oh no, Joe, it is only someone playing a lark.” I ran out thinking it was someone with Chinese crackers. I saw my father, John Kitto, walk away from the window with his back towards me. I said, “You wretch, what did you do that for?” - meaning, shooting my husband.   I did not hear him make any reply, but ran to my husband. As I entered the door I met the deceased, with his hand across his chest and saw the infant fall from his arms on to the floor. I then put my arms round his neck. He said, “Don't stay with me, Annie; run form help; I am shot.” I then ran out and called my brother-in-law, Niels, Peter Kloogh. I met my brother John nearly opposite the house. I told him to go to decesased while I ran towards my brother-in-law, Peter, whom I met coming running towards me, near my father's place, on the path. I requested him to go to my husband and was returning with him. I saw my father, John Kitto, standing between his own house and the wire fence. He held up a gun to his shoulder and deliberately took aim and fired at my brother-in-law, Niels Peter Kloogh. After being shot he ran towards the house. I knew he was shot. The time father put the gun to his shoulder I saw the flash. About 10 o'clock p.m. I returned to my own place with Mr Macklay and Mr McLelland. My husband expired about 2 o'clock on the following morning (29th). I have been nine years married in June next, and have five children, the youngest four months and the eldest seven years. So far as I know, my husband and father were on good terms.
By a Juror: I do not know that the accused had ever threatened my husband.
The accused was then brought in and identified by witness as the man who shot her husband.
John Francis Kitto, jun,: I am the son of John Francis Kitto, the accused, who is known as John Kitto, residing on the east side of the river, Millers Flat. I am a miner, 19 years of age. I had tea at home on Sunday evening last, about 6 o'clock. My father was in the house, and sitting at the kitchen fire. During the time I took tea I noticed nothing unusual in his manner. I left the house at 6.15 and went to William Murray's place, about 200 yards distant. While in Murray's house I heard a report of firearms. The report appeared to be that of a gun in the direction of deceased's dwelling, which was about 600 yards distant. I then came out of the house and heard a cry, and thought it was my brother who had accidentally shot himself as he occasionally went out shooting. I then ran towards deceased's dwelling, and met my sister (wife of deceased), who said father had shot Joe through the window. She said he was coming behind. I saw him coming from Roggiero's with a gun in his right hand. I was about 20 or 30 yards from father. We did not speak. I went and told mother, and afterwards proceeded to Mr W. Smith's, which is about 200 yards from our house. I heard a second shot when near Smith's place, and being frightened, did not return. I identify the gun now produced. My father gave it to me about five years ago. I last saw it in my bedroom on Sunday morning last; 28th. It was not then loaded. I did not miss the gun until between 6 and 7 o'clock in the evening, at the time I went in to tell mother that father had shot Joe (deceased). I did not see the gun until I saw it in possession of the police this morning. I know of nothing to cause father to shoot the deceased. My father was an inmate of the Lunatic Assylum for six weeks about four years ago. He appeared sulky at times and would not speak, and appeared to be troubled with religion, as he was frequently talking about it. When I saw the gun on Sunday the nipple was in, but now it appears to have been blown out.

The Timaru Herald reported the outcome of the Supreme Court case on 21 July 1882:

Dunedin, July 20
John Francis Kitto, under committal for the murder of his son-in-law, Roggerio at Miller's Flat, was brought before the jury to try whether be was insane or not.
Dr Neil, of the Asylum, gave evidence that he considered Kitto insane.
The prisoner asked him in what way he had found him insane.
Dr Neil answered that he had considered bis son-in-law possessed by the devil. "No," said the prisoner, "not possessed by the devil, he was the devil."
His Honor asked if Kitto imagined himself to be any particular person, and Kitto said “I am professing to be The Christ."
The jury found him insane, and he was remanded to the Asylum, pending the pleasure of the Colonial Secretary. 

A longer version of events is found in the 29 July edition of the Otago Witness:

(Before his Honor Mr Justice Williams and a Common Jury.)
John Francis Kitto, who was found guilty by the Coroner's Jury of the murder of his son-in-law, Joseph Augustus Roggiero, at Miller's Flat, on the 28th of May last, was placed in the dock.
Mr Haggitt (the Crown prosecutor) said: In this case, your Honor, the prisoner was found guilty of murder by the Coroner's Jury, and the Grand Jury have also found a bill against him. He has been confined in the Lunatic Asylum under the warrant of the Colonial Secretary, issued under clause 7 of "The Lunatics Act, 1868." I applied for instructions to the Minister of Justice as to whether he should be brought up to be arraigned or not, and I was instructed to have him brought here and arraign him. But I am informed by the superintendent of the Asylum that he is not in a position to plead he is actually a lunatic, and cannot, therefore, be put upon his trial. The course under such circumstances, I imagine, is to empanel a jury to try the question whether he is in a fit state to plead.
His Honor: Yes; and if the Jury find that he is not in a fit state to plead, an order can be made for his confinement.
Mr Haggitt: There can be no doubt he is not in a fit state to plead. Dr Neill will say so, and there is no evidence on the other side.
A jury of 12 was then sworn to try the question.
Mr Haggitt said: Gentlemen of the Jury, the prisoner was committed on a coroner's warrant to the Gaol in Dunedin, and after his commitment to the Gaol it was found necessary to remove him to the Lunatic Asylum, where he has been for some weeks past. An indictment has been found against him by the Grand Jury for murder, but before he can be tried upon that indictment it must appear that he is of sane mind, because the law does not allow a prisoner to be put upon his trial upon any indictment unless he has sufficient capacity to plead to the indictment and conduct his defence intelligently. This person is not in that condition. I shall put Dr Neill, who is superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum, into the box, and he will tell you that the prisoners state of mind is such that he conld not understand the proceedings at this trial, and therefore could not conduct his defence properly. There will be no evidence on the other side, and you will be invited to find a verdict according to the evidence.
Dr A. H. Neill, superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum, Dunedin, deposed: The prisoner has been under my care since the 13th of June. He was committed to my charge by order of the Colonial Secretary, under the 7th sectiom of "The Lunatics Act, 1868." He is still in my charge. The prisoner, in my opinion, is not able to plead to the indictment found against him, nor is he of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings at a trial so as to make a proper defence.
His Honor: As the prisoner has stood silent and not manifested any signs of insanity, I suppose I must ask him if he has any questions, to put to the witness.
Prisoner (to witness): In what part have you found me a lunatic, that I am not able to plead my own case?
Witness: From the letters you have written and the delusions under which you suffer.
Prisoner: I should like to have an explanation from someone to show whether I am a lunatic or not.
His Honor: Have you any of the, letters with you?
Witness: I have them all, your Honor.
(Witness here handed in a large packet of letters.)
His Honor: What are his delusions?
Witness: Religious delusions.
His Honor: Of what nature?
Witness: He imagines himself to be a Jew.
His Honor: What else?
Witness: He considers his son-in-law, Roggiero, was possessed of a devil. Prisoner: Not possessed, but was.
Witness: Was the devil?
His Honor: Anything else?
Witness: That his son-in-law who is wounded is also the devil.
His Honor: Is there anything else, doctor?
Witness: All his delusions consist of that character.
His Honor: Does he imagine himself to be any particular person?
Witness: l am not aware of his imagining himself to be other than a Jew. Prisoner: I am professing to be the Christ.
His Honor: Yes; quite so.
(Addressing the Jury): Gentlemen, that will do. I do not know if it is necessary for me to say anything. You have heard the evidence, and the statement of the prisoner which he has just now made. If a prisoner is insane at the time of arraignment— at the time when he properly comes up to be arraigned, he is not to be arraigned, because, not being in full possession of his senses, he cannot plead to the indictment, nor conduct his defence with proper care. All that you have to determine is whether he is in possession of his senses or not. Will you be kind enough to consider your verdict.
The Jury at once returned a verdict that the prisoner was insane. His Honor directed that the verdict should be recorded, and the accused kept in strict custody until the pleasure of the Colonial Secretary be known. The prisoner was then removed by one of the warders of the Asylum.

No comments:

Post a Comment