Couldn't get to the courthouse today (Thurs 10/29). Dave Smith's Story in the Siskiyou Daily News here
is three days behind, and described Monday's testimony by Ken and Lodema Oliver, who believe they were with Nelson on the day of the crime. They lived at the Croy property in Hoopa at the time. The article doesn't really go into the details of the timeline, as to whether their specific memories would establish that Nelson was not in Happy Camp at the time of the kidnapping. And the witnesses were not entirely sure of the date, recalling being stopped by the police on Aug 28, 1976, although retired detective Jack Fairchild said he and Jack Partlow did not even get to the scene until around 10 pm on the 28th. This testimony will be dissected by both lawyers during the summary, with the defense interpreting it as an alibi.
So, who is ahead in this drama with one man's life and another family's need for justice at stake? As a blogger, not a print journalist, I am free to speculate. And none of the jurors look like internet nerds, so I'm not worrying about corrupting anyone. I'm betting on a conviction on at least some charges. Nelson's own testimony looms pretty large. When he said earlier in the interrogation, "I was just the driver," that meant he was at least the driver. In my humble opinion, he could not have been unaware that he was helping in a kidnapping. On the other hand, when he seemingly concurred that he had put the body in the barrel, I can't tell whether this is a true confession or a crashing speed freak at the end of a two day interview who just wants to say whatever it takes to get it over with. The odd thing is that, as an outsider with no local ancestry (He had enough Cheyenne genes to get payments from that tribe, but looks mostly white.) he had no motive to be involved in this except the desire to fit in and please the girlfriend, Joyce Croy, who was 15 years older. This is reminiscent a little of Albert Camus' novel, The Stranger, in which a man sets out to help a casual friend in a dispute, and ends up commiting murder. The man who really did have a grudge against the Cook family was Antone Aubrey, the late ex-husband of Suzanne Aubrey Little, the other defendant. He is beyond human justice, having himself been the victim of an unsolved murder in 1980.
I have heard rumors of rebuttal testimony being completed tomorrow, but nothing definite. I hope to take in the summaries next week, but may be tied up.
Unfortunately, the convictions of both defendants would do little or nothing to reduce the pervasive meth culture in the area, and family vendetta's are likely to continue. When I lived on the Klamath River in the early '70's, most of the middle aged natives had been educated at the Sherman School for Indians in Riverside. sherman school They sometimes were proud of that, and other times expressed a sense of loss that so many of the elders had died when they returned. The Sherman School still exists, but this has not been considered a politically correct way to treat the natives in recent decades. However, few have suggested we apologize as the Australians did. PM Rudd's Apology