Finale Of A Wrestling Match: A Death Warrant Issued for One of the Parties

Published in The New York Herald, July 22, 1869, Triple Sheet,Page 11.


(From The Cincinnati Enquirer, July 20) One Year ago last June, Uriel Prickett, a professional wrestler, was shot and killed in a saloon known as the “Hole-in-the-Wall” in Hamilton. Prickett had gone to Hamilton for the purpose of engaging in a wrestling match with a man named Tim Wailer, a popular athlete in Butler county. The match came off, and Prickett, who claimed the championship, was thrown with ease. Many who had wagered money upon the contest thought that he had acted in bad faith, and had “thrown” the match. Public feeling, so far as the sporting element was concerned, was against him. That night a party of men met Prickett at the saloon above mentioned, and they were last seen in his company. Their names were John Griffin, Joseph Kelly, and George Shedd. Next morning Prickett was carried out of the saloon a corpse, with a bullet wound in the back of the head. Circumstances pointed to the young man Griffin as the perpetrator and he was arrested. After tedious delay and postponement his trial came on; Kelly turned State’s evidence and swore that Griffin was the murderer. He was convicted of murder in the first degree, and the day of his execution set for the 27th of May last. An application was made to the Supreme Court for a writ of error, and sentence was suspended. On the 30th of June the Supreme Court met and refused to grant the writ, at the same time fixing the 29th day of this month as the day of execution. Yesterday the clerk of the Supreme Court issued the first death warrant ever issued from that bench, and it commands the Sheriff of Butler county to hang John Griffin until he is dead, on Thursday, July 29. An application will be made to the Governor, and petitions to that effect are now being circulated, praying that the death sentence be commuted; but there is little probability of Executive interference, and unless something unforeseen should occur, on the 29th inst. Griffin will make expiation upon the scaffold for a crime of which he stoutly protests he is innocent.


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