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Dog Dispute Results in Plainville Shooting

Earl “Junior” Goodwin, Jr., 21, lived on a farm just outside of Plainville, Indiana. In the spring of 1943 somebody shot and killed Junior’s coon dog. Junior was convinced 59-year-old Charles Edgar “Charlie” England—a prominent Plainville banker and business man—was the culprit. 


On the morning of June 16, 1943 Junior was in Plainville and saw England walking on Main Street. Junior approached Charlie and demanded he pay for the dog. An altercation ensued and the two men ended up on the ground struggling. During the melee Charlie shot Junior twice in the abdomen with a .32 revolver and Junior pounded on Charlie’s face and head with his fist. Both men required hospital treatment. Both recovered.


The Daviess County Prosecutor, Jack Hayes, criminally charged England with assault and battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a handgun without a permit. No charges were filed against Goodwin. England pled not guilty. The jury trial started Monday, March 13, 1944 in the Daviess Circuit Court. England was represented by John S. Hastings and Flavian A. Seal from Washington. The trial lasted a week and multiple witnesses were called by the state and defendant.


Junior Goodwin was one of the first witnesses for the prosecution. He acknowledged he approached England and demanded payment for the dog, but denied starting the fight. Goodwin claimed the ruckus began when England stepped back and drew his handgun. Junior said he then grabbed England; they struggled, and fell down. While wrestling on the ground, England shot him twice. Junior said he then “beat-up” Charlie. Several prosecution witnesses substantiated Junior’s version of the event.


England took the stand in his own defense. He testified he started carrying the revolver following a threat made by Goodwin a few days before June 16. England claimed Goodwin assaulted him on June 16, pushed him to the ground, and started hitting him. England said he pulled the revolver in self-defense after Junior had him on the ground and was beating him. Several defense witnesses supported England’s testimony.


Photograph of Charles England taken shortly after the brawl with Junior Goodwin. This photo and others were introduced at England’s trial to show his injuries

After final arguments, the twelve-person jury—two women and ten men—deliberated for more than 24 hours.  They reported to Judge Frank E. Gilkison they were hopelessly deadlocked and unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Judge Gilkison declared a hung jury. An initial newspaper account said the jury was deadlocked 8 to 4 for acquittal. A later article said the jury was split 8 to 4 to convict.


On July 29, 1944 Jack Hayes filed a motion to dismiss the felony charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon after England agreed to plead guilty to carrying a handgun without a permit and pay a $20 fine. In the motion, Hayes said Junior Goodwin was “agreeable to dismissing” the felony charge. 


It is not known whether there was a financial settlement between Mr. England and Mr. Goodwin.


This article was compiled by Bruce Smith of the Daviess County Historian Team.

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