Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 7

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
This week we actually get into some of the details of the case. Well, when I say details I mean that there is a summation of the defense. The clipping praises the defense attorney for doing a good job despite being on the unpopular side. The defense, as far as what is presented, isn't extraordinarily strong.

"Plea For Defense.

Attorney Ellsworth made a strong plea for his client. He attacked the circumstantial evidence in detail, going through it step by step and estimating its worth. He handled the case throughout without assistance showing good generalship and most honorable methods. His was not the popular side and in this he was hampered from the outset.

He dwelt upon the mightiness of the state to prosecute, secure witness and evidence no matter what the cost; and to secure the best legal talent to conduct the trial to a conclusion. The fact that the soil over the body in the grave was loose indicated to him the body had been interred but a short time; no one had testified a straw stack had ever stood there even though cinder of some fire were plowed up upon the site of the grave. Portions of a human body were found and what more natural that the skull and body had been torn and broken by the badgers as testified they were very powerful animals and had burrowed into the grave. Other men had disappeared from that locality and who could say this was the body of Aug. Tromer or Jacob Walker? The age, sickness and good character and reputation of the witness were all in favor of the prisoner, who must be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The presumption was such until beyond a reasonable doubt he was proven guilty. Cupidity was not a motive as Tromer was in debt to him for $72. It could not have been in anger for they were on friendly terms."

An understandable defense to claim that the body may not have been Tromer's, but with Villers' luck it still would have been blamed on him. Using the loose soil as a sign that the body had been recently buried could have been helpful to his defense since Villers was in jail and if it had been buried recently, he couldn't have done it. Unfortunately he was in jail for the attempted murder of Tromer's wife so it would be more believable to the jury that any loose soil was caused by the badgers mentioned. The statement that somehow Villers couldn't have killed Tromer because the latter owed him $72 is ludicrous. Tell that to the numerous people that have been killed by organized crime lords for not paying their debts. As for anger, well there was a previous article that I had come across a few years ago that speculated that it could have been self-defense on Villers' part because Tromer was known to be the sort of person to fly off in a rage. I did a quick search on my blog and didn't find that article. I'll add it to the list of things I need to post.