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National Affairs: Three Trials & Out

2 minute read

For three years the State of California has done its level best to prove that David Albert Lamson bludgeoned his pretty, young wife to death. It spent $60,000 to try him, retry him, mistry him, retry him again. Last week the State of California set David A. Lamson free.

This decision abruptly arrested a case which has kept California tongues wagging since Memorial Day 1933. That May morning a real estate agent and her client dropped in at the Lamson bungalow on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto. They found Lamson stripped to the waist. He had been burning rubbish in the backyard. Telling his callers to wait until he got a shirt on, Lamson vanished into the house. A few minutes later he opened the front door, cried: “My God, my wife has been murdered.” Rushing in, the agent and client found the nude, dead body of Allene Thorpe Lam son sprawled over the rim of a blood-splattered bathtub. The back of her head was bashed in. In the burning rubbish outside was a discolored iron pipe. Police put two & two together, charged David Albert Lamson with murder in the first degree (TIME, Sept. 11, 1933, et seq.).

For faithful and influential friends of the popular Lamson, sales manager of the Stanford University Press, this solution was a ghastly break of circumstantial evidence. They raised a defense fund, printed booklets denouncing the case as justice’s greatest miscarriage, laid Mrs. Lamson’s death to an accidental fall. After his conviction, Lamson went to the San Quentin Prison condemned row, pounded out his best-selling book, We Who Are About to Die. Trial No. 2, ordered by the State Supreme Court, resulted in a hung jury. Trial No. 3 was adjourned due to an irregularity in the venire rolls. Resumed, Trial No. 3 lasted two months, ended fortnight ago in another jury deadlock.

Last week, when Superior Judge Joseph Jerome Trabucco saw no reason for a fourth trial and set him free, Lamson lost his calm, stumbled weeping from the courtroom to see his 5-year-old daughter, Allene Genevieve. Bashful at first in the presence of a person she scarcely knew, Allene soon dropped her shyness, clasped her father in her arms, cried: “Oh, Daddy, where are you going to sleep?”

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