Convicted Murderer Assaults Prosecutor, 1853

On November 30, 1853, Hyde County resident and Baptist preacher George Washington Carawan shot the prosecutor who secured his murder conviction and then turned the gun on himself.

Only an hour before the shooting, a jury found Carawan guilty of the murder of schoolteacher Clement H. Lassiter. Carawan accused Lassiter of having an affair with his wife and shot down the unsuspecting man in November 1852. Carawan forced one of his slaves to assist him in burying the body on a corner of his property before fleeing to Tennessee for a year. While attempting to return home, Carawan’s slave spotted him and promptly alerted neighbors of his master’s return.

A citizens’ arrest quickly landed Carawan in jail and the subsequent trial resulted in a guilty verdict. The judge had just dismissed the jury when Carawan drew a pistol from his shirt, took deliberate aim at prosecutor Edward Warren and fired. The shot struck Warren just above his heart but did not kill him. Carawan, wrestling with his attorneys, then turned the gun on himself and ended his own life. The trial and dramatic end of the murderous preacher gained national attention and riveted newspaper subscribers throughout the country.

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