At a coroner’s inquest, held on the Monday following the shooting of Marshal Richardson, the crime was found to be premeditated murder with nothing to mitigate it. On Tuesday, in the Evening Bulletin, James King declared that San Franciscans did not want to see another vigilance committee if it could be avoided, but warned that no effort would be spared to get Charles Cora free. He reported that forty thousand dollars had already been put forward to defend the gambler, five thousand for attorneys and the rest to be used as the occasion requires. He pointed out that one bad man on the jury would be enough to prevent agreement and result in a hung jury. “Look well to the jury!” he was quoted as saying.
Then King turned his wrath on the jailer. “What we propose is this,” he went on. “If the jury against Cora is packed . . . or if Billy Mulligan lets his friend Cora escape, hang Billy Mulligan or drive him into banishment.” Mulligan was a noted gambler, brawler and petty crook who had already made a name for himself in the gold mines. Now he was getting rich selling liquor, luxuries and other favors to those who occupied his jail. On November the 22nd the Bulletin again returned to the subject with the bold headline, “Hang Billy Mulligan!” King went on to say, “If Sheriff Scannell does not remove Billy Mulligan from his present post as keeper of the county jail and Mulligan lets Cora escape, hang Billy Mulligan, and, if necessary to get rid of the sheriff, hang him—hang the sheriff!”
King pointed out that strong measures would be required to have justice for the murderer of Richardson. He openly asked the citizens of San Francisco what was the meaning of the feeling, so prevalent on the streets, that the dastardly assassin Charles Cora would escape the vengeance of the law. Then he added his own personal opinion on the subject. “Oh heavens, what a mortification to every lover of order and decency in and out of San Francisco, to think that the sheriff of this county is an ex-keeper of a gambling hall, his deputy, who acts as keeper of the county jail, is the notorious Billy Mulligan.” The public outcry over King’s harsh words hastened Cora’s indictment.