The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Caryl Chessman

Nov. 26, 1957
Los Angeles

Here's an update on two stories we have been following....

After 98 witnesses and eight weeks of testimony, the prosecution is about to rest in the murder trial of L. Ewing Scott.

Throughout the trial, the defense raised objections that there was no evidence Evelyn Throsby Scott was dead because no body had been produced. However, the motions were always overruled by Judge Clement D. Nye.*

Meanwhile, Caryl Chessman is getting a new defense attorney and awaiting a decision on whether the manuscript of a proposed book, "The Kid Was a Killer," will be returned to him.  The manuscript was seized in 1954 by Harley O. Teets, the late warden of San Quentin.

Photograph by Dan McCormack / Los Angeles Times
Deputy Atty. Gen. William Bennett, left, watches as San Quentin Warden Fred Dickson displays the manuscript of Caryl Chessman's "The Kid Was a Killer," which was seized on the belief that it was "prison labor." Chessman is flanked by attorneys A.L. Wirin, left, of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Paul N. Posner.  The man in the background leaning on a counter is Dist. Atty. William R. McKesson.

Photograph by Bruce H. Cox / Los Angeles Times
Chessman finally received the manuscript, a novel about a boxer, in December 1957, from Lt. L.T. O'Brien of San Quentin.  It was published in 1960.

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*Judge Clement "D. Nye." Only in L.A.

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Comments (2)

"Caryl Chessman sniffs the air and leads the parade.
He knows, in ascent,it can bottle all you made".
Caryl Chessman proved in many trials that justice is not for every one.He didnĀ“t get a fair trial and was executed in 1960 and by that proved that deathpenalty is beyond wrong in a human civilisation. He was accused for beeing Red-Light-Bandit but claimed that he was innocent.In fact he knewed who the Red-Light-Bandit were (pluralis) but Caryl Chessmanwas a criminal and not a "rat".Becoming his own lawyer he studied the lawbooks and realize that justice would find the truth and set him free.Unfortunetly the human factor as judges in the trials sent him to the gaschamber instead of given him a fair trial...a very sad story! To this date (2008) there is still deathpenalty...its beyond wrong!

I've read a great deal on the Caryl Chessman case and think it was utterly appalling what happened to this poor man. He may not have been an angel, but he did not deserve what happened to him in the end. All that energy he put into trying to save his life, when all along the american government wanted him dead, whatever he had to say. The whole thing stinks. RIP Caryl Chessman


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