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Medium 9781574413533

Chapter 13. The Last of “Pea Time”

Rick Miller University of North Texas Press ePub

Chapter 13

The Last of “Pea Time”

The murder case against Jim Longley, arrested in August 1875, was severed from that of his brother. His lawyer asked for a change of venue, likely because of hard feelings in Lee County about the murder of Wilson Anderson, and the court agreeably transferred venue of the case to the district court in Fayette County at La Grange. Jim was released on a high $5,000 bond, his father, Uncle Cale, and H. C. Jones acting as sureties.1

Still on the move, Bill said that he left Uvalde County about January 20, 1876, ten days after Shroyer was killed. Riding with three unidentified men, he rode east. Approaching Castroville, in Medina County west of San Antonio, the three men revealed that one of them had a brother in the jail there for killing a Mexican. Concluding that Longley was “a pretty solid sort of fellow, one who would do to tie to,” they asked him if he would help them get him out. Longley said that they offered him $250 and that he reluctantly agreed, provided that he was in charge of the operation.

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9 The Cut

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF


The Cut

“There’s an awful lot of weirdos out there, and you never know when you are going to meet one.”

—Richard Stroup,

McLennan County Sheriff ’s Deputy


Living her adult life in a culture with an absence of beauty took its toll on Brenda Kay Thompson. She looked much older than her age—thirtyseven. At 5’5” tall and weighing only 115 pounds, she was a small woman.

Her drawn and hollow-looking face made her look emaciated, almost skeletal. What were once beautiful brown eyes were instead sunken into bony sockets surrounded by a rough complexion. She looked tired. Her tragic life gave her a “worn” look common among the “older” (both in terms of age and arrests) girls at the Cut. She had several aliases, including Debbie Johnson, and Debbie Ward. A criminal background check reveals a long history of a dozen or so petty crimes ranging from small thefts settled by paying fines to more serious charges of possessions of controlled substances carrying with them five- and six-year sentences.

Additionally, she had a history of DWI and moving traffic violations, trespassing charges, and numerous counts of forgery.1

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17. The Defense and Rebuttal

Corey Recko University of North Texas Press PDF


The Defense and Rebuttal

It was now time for the defense to present their case. Their strategy was twofold: attack the credibility of prosecution witnesses and present an alibi for the accused. To open their case, the defense called Tom Tucker to the stand in their first attempt to prove an alibi for the defendants. His testimony was not reported.1

Pedro Gonzales, a member of the initial searching party, testified to trailing the buckboard. Gonzales said there were no tracks around the campfire when they arrived. He thought the tracks measured by Llewellyn were tracks of members of the search party. Jacovo Chavez, another search party member, repeated the testimony of Gonzales, also believing that Branigan and Llewellyn measured tracks of search party members.2

The next witness called was A. N. Bailey, an employee of Lee, who stated that he was at Lee’s Dog Canyon ranch on the day of the disappearance. The defendants were there also.3 Joe Fitchett testified that he had met Oliver Lee at his Dog Canyon ranch on the day of the disappearance.

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18. Closing Arguments and the Verdict

Corey Recko University of North Texas Press PDF


Closing Arguments and the Verdict

Before the closing arguments began, the attorneys argued as to whether the defendants could be found guilty of murder in the first, second, or third degree, or if it was to be first degree or nothing at all. The defense wanted only the latter option available to the jury.

Judge Parker ruled, “The court will submit the three degrees of murder to the jury.”1

The jury was brought in. Richmond Barnes opened the closing arguments for the prosecution. Barnes went through the chain of circumstantial evidence very thoroughly. He said that while one or a few coincidences might be explained, the whole chain could only be explained on the one hypothesis, that the defendants had murdered the Fountain child. His speech was described as “rather

flowery, and the figures of speech and quotations from The Pickwick

Papers probably went over the heads of the jury.” The interpreter had a difficult time translating some of this, and Barnes had to repeat his expressions. When speaking of Oliver Lee’s mother, who had testified as to Lee’s alibi, Barnes remarked that she had laid “a wreath of maternal duty on the altar of maternal love.” This was too much for the interpreter, and the prosecutor had to explain. Barnes spoke until the noon recess.2

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Twenty-five—“It’s Over.”

William T. Harper University of North Texas Press PDF


Eight hostages on the outside of the “buggy” maneuver it down the ramp while

Carrasco, his two henchmen and four civilian hostages are inside. (Photo courtesy of Robert E. Wiatt)

pressure hoses, topple it. In the resulting melee, they would disarm the desperados and save the hostages. Estelle took up a position on a small balcony on the third floor of the Walls’ Administration Building overlooking the Upper Yard, from where he could look right at the ramp.

He was, he said, “in walkie-talkie contact with Rogers. But,” he continued, “Pete being Pete, once the fire-fight started, he laid that damn radio down. He wanted two hands. So, I was out of contact. I could hear and see—but I couldn’t directly influence anything.”2

As the captives struggled to shove the box off its hang-up, Jack

Branch looked toward the doors where he saw the officers, wearing olive green-colored, camouflage ceramic body armor, and combat helmets. “I said ‘boy, we are saved now.’ I never was glad to see somebody in my life.”3 Ranger Captains Rogers and Burks, FBI agent

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