From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

McCoy v Commonwealth [Frazier White, William McCoy]

Around midnight on September 24, 1911, Will McCoy was supervising the dance hall at the Bourbon County Colored Fair in Millersburg, KY. The lights at the dance hall went out, and a young man named Frazier White lost his hat and started cursing and demanding his hat back. A man by the name of Darnall was the floor manager, and he confronted White about his behavior.

Will McCoy took over the situation, cautioning White about his foul language in the presence of women. Darnall left the matter in the hands of McCoy and walked away. Frazier White then directed his insults toward McCoy, and when all was said and done, McCoy had shot White, severing his spine.

White was rushed to the hospital and died during surgery. McCoy was arrested and found guilty of murder by the Circuit Court of Bourbon County.

McCoy's case was taken to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky. His attorney, John J. Williams of Paris, felt that McCoy should be charged with manslaughter at most; McCoy had shot White but had not killed him. According to Attorney Williams, White's death was due to the surgery. Williams also felt that the final statement of the Commonwealth's Attorney in the first trial "was highly prejudicial to his client's defense."

During the appeals process, Attorneys General James Garrett and M. M. Logan argued that White would have died if the surgery had not been performed.

September 25, 1912, the Court of Appeals affirmed McCoy's 1st degree murder conviction. It was also decided that no infringements had taken place during the Commonwealth Attorney's final statement.

The case of McCoy v Commonwealth has been frequently cited in cases where there is question of "the act causing death" in a homicide, and in cases questioning the prejudicial influence of final statements.

For more see McCoy v Commonwealth, pp. 903-904 in the Southwestern Reporter, vol. 149 (1912) [available full-text at Google Books].

Frazier Butler White was born November 18, 1886 in Paris, KY, and died September 25, 1911. He was the son of Nannie Duggins and John Henry White. Frazier White was a blacksmith. He was buried in the Paris Colored Cemetery.  [Source: Kentucky Death Certificate File #22586, Registered #90]

William McCoy, born in West Virginia, worked as a porter at a boarding house run by the widow, Mrs. Maria Lyons [source: 1910 U.S. Census]. The boarding house was located at 188 Main Street in Paris, KY. After the death of Frazier B. White, in 1918, McCoy was a prisoner at the Kentucky Reformatory in Frankfort, employed as a chairmaker [source: McCoy's World War I Draft Registration Card in]. William McCoy's birth year has been given as 1865, 1877, and 1883. He died of Bright's Disease at the Kentucky Reformatory on January 21, 1920 [source: Kentucky Death Certificate #806, Registered #13] and was buried in the prison graveyard.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Franklin County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Millersburg, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Paris, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Frankfort, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Agricultural and Mechanical Association of the Colored People of Bourbon County
NKAA Source: The Southwestern reporter (periodical)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“McCoy v Commonwealth [Frazier White, William McCoy],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-08-26 17:08:42