Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Curious Case of the Quiet Guineas.

This case occurred in northwest Louisiana during the early '80s.  I was working for another agency and working my own cases, but small jurisdictions are notorious for word getting around.  It went something like this:

It was murder, there was no doubt about it.  A Sheriff's deputy, on routine patrol happened to see a car  all the back parking lot of a nightclub.  The club had been closed for several hours, so our intrepid deputy rolled over to check on it.  When he approached the car, shortly before daylight, he saw a body slumped in the driver's seat.  Thinking that it was probably someone sleeping off a night of too-much-fun, he tapped on the glass, then opened the driver's door.

The body was behind the steering wheel and was slumped over the console.  The driver's window was up, and the door had been closed when he approached.  He noticed that the body had two gunshot wounds in the left side.  One in the neck, one just behind the ear.  The body appeared to be a twenty-something female.  She was cold to the touch, but her clothing was all in place.

The deputy stepped back, looked around, then turned and threw up on the ground.  After he composed himself, he called it in.  The dispatcher told him to stand by, preserve the scene, and start collecting information.   Help was on the way.

A few minutes later, a supervisor arrived, and a half hour later, the on-call detective arrived.  Within the next hour, the coroner's representative was on scene.  As the day progressed, she was identified, and family was notified.  Detectives learned that she was married, with no children, and that she and her husband had been going through a nasty separation.  He was known to be volatile, and carried a pistol.  She had thrown hubby out of the house, and he was living with his father out in the rural area of the parish.

Detectives went to the father and talked to him.  Hubby had left for work early that morning, after having been in the house all night.  Of course, the old man had been sleeping, but he was pretty sure that hubby never left the house, from 800 pm until daylight. Detectives went to his work site, interviewed hubby and asked specifically about the handgun he was known to have kept in his vehicle.  He had sold it to pay some bills.  No, he didn't know the guy he sold it to. Very convenient.

Detectives continued to run down leads,   The coroner reported that either one of the two shots would have killed her, and that a slug recovered from her head seemed to be a .38 caliber bullet.  The handgun that hubby was known to have carried was a .38 Special.

Detectives got a warrant and arrested hubby for the murder of his wife.  He, of course, proclaimed his innocence and a lawyer was appointed.

Thirty days later, a preliminary hearing was scheduled.  The state laid out its evidence.  The bitter separation, the threats hubby made against the wife.  The slugs in wife's head.  The handgun that was conveniently missing.  The lack of a viable alibi.   The state rested.

The defense put on the old man, the father of hubby.  Father testified that they lived in the family home place, way out in the country.  They were pretty much alone, but had one neighbor with whom he had had words.  In addition to the normal couple of hound dogs, he also had a large flock of guineas that roosted in a tree over the gravel driveway.

The guineas were the source of the friction between he and his neighbor.  Any time anything disturbed the night-time quiet, the guineas would awaken and commence to raising holy hell. The rest of the father's testimony was fairly straightforward.  His son had come in from owrk about 6:00 pm.  They ate supper, then watched television.  Father went to bed about 8:00 pm and slept soundly through the night.  When father awoke at about 6:00 am, the son was in the kitchen making coffee.

The DA has a follow-up question, "Are you sure that your son never left the house all evening?"

Father testified simply, "The guineas were quiet all night.  No one left the house, not even the dogs.  If you don't believe me", he pointed to the back of the courtroom, "ask my neighbors.  They're sitting right back there."

The neighbor was sworn to testify.  She and her husband had been complaining about the guineas for several years.  Every time a dog, a coyote, or a pickup truck crossed that driveway, they were shaken from their sleep by that damned flock of guineas.  They had complained over, and over, about those birds.  But, on the night in question, they had seen hubby come in from work and park his truck.  They also want to bed later, and slept soundly through the night.  On that particular night, the guineas were silent.  Nothing had moved on that land, that night.

The judge took a brief recess to consider the testimony.  When he returned, he said that the testimony of the neighbor was compelling.  He knew about guineas, and their habit of waking everything within the sound of their screeching when the flock was disturbed.  He told the DA that based on the guineas, he had no choice.  The guineas were silent, so the husband could not have left the house during the hours of darkness.  The judge released the husband from the bond obligation pending further investigation.

I don't recall if that case was ever solved.  I was working other cases, and lost track of that particular investigation.  But, I was in the courtroom that day, and heard the testimony set forth in the Curious Case of the Quiet Guineas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the windows was up he probably walked and was picked up by her. He opened the door of the out...she got out and was getting in..drivers door still open and he shot her ...
He walked back and got in another car...and walked a short distance to home. Did anyone look for footprints in the area of the house leading to the road?