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Paul V. Coates – Confidential File, April 18, 1960

April 18, 2010 |  2:19 pm

April 18, 1960, Mirror  

Southern Lawyer Still Fights for Son

Paul Coates    Charles Lee Guy Jr. is a man who takes disappointment with a minimum of emotion.
    I learned that 2 1/2 years ago, when I met him for the first time.
    Guy, a lawyer, had just arrived in California on a unique and desperate mission.
    He had come here from Dunn, N.C. to defend his 19-year-old son, Charles (Sonny) Lee Guy III -- whom he hadn't seen in years -- on the charge of murder.  Sonny Guy was accused of a shotgun slaying of Guy Roberts, the prospective seventh husband of the boy's mother, Mrs. Nina Miles.
    In defense of his son, Guy met with many disappointments -- a major one being the fact that Mrs. Miles, his first wife, who had custody of Sonny throughout the years, took the stand against her son.
    Another was the number of differences in California and North Carolina law which he felt restricted his defense.  And another, of course, was the verdict.

 Aprl 18, 1960, Science Fair

    After the initial meeting with Sonny in County Jail, Guy was convinced of his son's innocence.  But the jury found differently.  It came up with an involuntary manslaughter verdict, calling for a 1-to-10 year prison sentence.
    But none of these disappointments jogged the North Carolina lawyer's gentlemanly, ultra-conservative bearing.  He disagreed, he would say politely.  But that's about all he would say.
    Now, however, his patience is floundering.  Twice since the 1957 trial he has come out to California for parole hearings for his son, hopeful that he could take the boy back to North Carolina with him.
    This week, I received a letter from him enumerating the things that have happened.
    "It is with trepidation," he wrote, "that I make any remarks about your California Board of Parole, for many reasons.
    "First of all, I do not personally know any of your California Parole Board members and second, I have a son whose faith and destiny depends upon their action.
    "Having defended my son in his trial, I am convinced that he was not guilty;  however, a jury of competent men and women found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter. . .
    " . . . Had any of that jury felt that this boy would have served going on three years for this alleged crime, I do not believe that that jury would have returned any verdict of guilty.
    "I have made two trips to California since the trial, each of which proved fruitless . . .
    "I was informed on the first trip that the only interview my son had with a member of the parole board was not  concerned with a question of rehabilitation or punishment, but how and why and what did he feel when he killed . . .
    " . . . Your California Board of Parole member . . . was trying this case all over again . . . At that time, I was sitting downstairs, not only as his father but as his attorney, and if such questions . . . were to be asked, then I should have been allowed to appear in his behalf.
    "Last November I made another trip to California when my son was to appear before your board of parole.
Promise Made, but Not Kept
    "I was assured before I left my home and when I had made more than half my trip that said parole hearing would not be held until I arrived there.
    "When I did arrive, the parole hearing had already been held and my son's application for parole denied, (Yet), I am informed, my son had a good record . . .
    "I feel that your parole board sets themselves up as a judge and jury, and when a prisoner is carried into your prison system, it is not a matter of rehabilitation or punishment, but a matter that your board determines the punishment . . . in a matter of years, regardless of his behavior and conduct and the prisoner's future . . .
    "My son is a young man whom I think would have made and still hope will make a decent honest citizen of this state, unless your board of autocrats make it impossible for him to return to a good life . . .
    If Guy's demeanor is beginning at last to crack, his courage certainly isn't.  It takes more than just a little bit of that for a man to accuse the individuals who control the fate of his son of being frivolous in their administration of justice.