The afternoon that the jury in the trial of Charles Cora returned unable to decide on a verdict James King’s Evening Bulletin came out with an article that began, “Twelve o’clock noon, hung be the heavens in black. The money of the gambler and the prostitute has succeeded, and Cora has another respite.” King went on to say that one of the principal witnesses had already sold out for twenty-four hundred dollars and left the state. He openly wondered that if there were ever a second trial where would the other witnesses be by then.
“Rejoice ye gamblers and harlots,” King continued. “Assemble in your dens of iniquity tonight and let the wine flow freely, and the welkin ring with your shouts of joy. Your triumph is great—oh, how you’ve triumphed! Triumphed over everything that is virtuous and holy and good! . . . Your money can accomplish anything in San Francisco, and now you have full permission to run riot at pleasure. Talk of safety in the law? It is humbug . . . an honest jury in this case might have agreed within one hour after leaving the jury box.”
And then King turned his attention to the Committee of Vigilance. “Men complain of vigilance committees and say we ought to leave criminals to be dealt with by law. Dealt with indeed! How dealt with—to be allowed to escape when ninety-nine men out of a hundred believe the prisoner to be guilty of murder?” He suggested that the result of the trial might drive people to madness and the heated blood of an outraged community could carry all before them and hang the wretch without even the semblance of a trial. And then he reminded readers that the vigilance committee at least took the care and anxiety to give a fair trial without the technicalities of the law.
“We want no vigilance committee, if it can be avoided, but we do want to see the murderer punished for his crimes.” King said, and then he railed at the lawyers who worked so hard to free Cora. He reminded the populace that the vigilance committee would not allow lawyers to became members and ended with, “What purpose does the law serve but to bind honest men and let loose the vile and guilty?” In this article King voiced well the outrage of a great portion of the citizens of San Francisco to the lack of a guilty verdict for the cold-blooded killer of William Richardson.