Hudson Sprouse was a resident of Albemarle County in the early nineteenth century. He was accused of murdering another person, tried in several courts and found guilty, and was ultimately hanged in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Circumstances behind hanging
Case and first trial
Towards the end of 1822, a woman named Susan Sprouse (closely related to Hudson) was murdered in the Ragged Mountains not far from Taylor's Gap. Hudson was tried for the crime in the October term of the Circuit Court in 1823. Though defended by Rice Wood, Frank Dyer, and V. W. Southall, Sprouse was convicted of murder in the first degree.
In the examination of individuals summoned on the venire in order to determine whether they had formed opinions on the alleged guilt of the accused, Abraham Wiant openly declared that he had formed a substantial opinion on the subject. Upon Judge Stuart choosing to confirm Wiant's enrollment as a juror anyway, he was abruptly challenged by Sprouse's legal counsel. An order of the judge was made the ground of an appeal, and the Court of Appeals, resolving that a substantial opinion was tantamount to a decided opinion, granted a new trial.
Second trial and execution
Sprouse was arraigned again at the October term of 1824 but it was quickly discovered impossible to obtain another jury, as nearly the entire community appeared to have already adjudged him guilty. The judge thus immediately decided to remove the case to Rockingham County, where Sprouse was tried on October 19. He was ultimately convicted and was hanged in Harrisonburg on December 10. Sprouse was reported to have been hardened to his fate and to have rebuffed the approaches of everyone close to him with the exception of a Mr. Best, who had made earnest efforts to prepare Sprouse for his imminent execution.
- Web. Albemarle County in Virginia, C.J. Carrier Company, 1901