By May 1905, Eustace Duvallier, a native of Haiti, had been living, with his mother and sister for four years. Mrs. Duvallier, it was noted, was a native of Inagua. The father, had apparently died some six years earlier. Mrs. Duvallier, her daughter and Eustace 18, were now living in Nassau.
For reasons undisclosed in the newspapers of the time, Young Eustace had a revolver. The loaded gun, he chose to keep close, often carrying it on his person.
When Eustace took it upon himself to intervene in a neighbourhood argument, he carried the revolver with him. Youthful passion undoubtedly overtook good reason. A war of words quickly escalated into a physical fight with neighbour Eugene Knowles.
That argument, which by all accounts did not directly concern Eustace Duvallier in any way, ended tragically for all concerned.
Coroner’s Inquest on the body of Eugene Knowles – 16th May 1905
Eugene Knowles 42, was shot, several times, in the early evening of Monday, 15th May 1905. Four shots were fired. Bullets entered the chest, and through the heart. As Knowles attempted to shield himself and run from his assailant, a bullet also went through his hand. Knowles ran about 100 yards, staggered and died.
The deceased and his wife had an argument with Mrs. Duvallier and her daughter. When an offensive expression was used toward Knowles and his wife, by Mrs. Duvallier, Knowles threatened to slap Mrs. Duvallier .
Eustace Duvallier, who would later testify that he was at home reading when he heard the commotion, came outside. On hearing the threat of a slap towards his mother, he produced his revolver; and standing some 8 to 12 feet away from Knowles, fired four times.
For the case of Rex v Eustace Duvallier, it was the first time in 20 years, that the death sentence was read in the Supreme Court.
As Eustace was just 18 years old, someone asked the local newspaper to publish a prayer for the young man. A solemn verse it was hoped, would also act as an admonishment to those some feared might follow in Eustace’s footsteps.
1905 – Bahamas getting tough on the indiscriminate sale of guns in the Colony
Gun crime must have been on the increase in the Colony by 1905. In truth, a sharp rise in the recording of crime, began just after slave emancipation in 1834. Incidents of domestic violence started to climb. Knife and gun violence also made ever increasing entries on court dockets. Robberies, theft, drunkenness and foul language became common offences.
By 1905, stricter gun laws had been introduced. In the Coroner’s Inquest into the shooting death of Eugene Knowles, the jury asked that a special penalty rider be added on, as a deterrent to the willy nilly sale of guns in the colony.
“The [coroner’s] jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against Eustace Duvallier and added a rider asking that the Executive should take steps to stop the indiscriminate sale of revolvers.”
1905 – Eustace Duvalier went to attend an argument between his mother and sister and nearby neighbours. He produced a gun from his waistband and shot Eugene Knowles several times
Rex v Eustace Duvalier – Punishments for crimes were swift, often severe and sometimes final. The more felonious the crime, the swifter was the justice
On 28th July 1905, Duvallier was sentenced to be hanged for the 15th May shooting death of his mother’s next door neighbour, Mr. Eugene Knowles, 42. Knowles was a ship’s carpenter.
The jury deliberated 45 minutes before finding Eustace guilty of murder.