Clipped From The Liberty Vindicator

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 - Oilfield Worker Convicted 01 Killin'” Mellvita...
Oilfield Worker Convicted 01 Killin'” Mellvita Sackett James Monroe Johnston, 39-year- old oilfield worker, was found guilty guilty of murdering Mrs. Mellvita Sackett, 24, and sentenced to 50 years in the penitentiary by a Lib erty County jury at 4:40 p.m. Saturday. Saturday. The verdict came five days after the trial opened in 75th District Court here. Johnston took the decision decision calmly, but his wife and two other women in the courtroom burst into tears. It took the jury three hours and •11 minutes to reach a verdict. Testimony Testimony ended in the trial Friday night, but the jury did not get the case until after the summation by attorneys for the state and the defense defense Saturday morning. Johnston stands convicted of killing killing Mrs. Sackett by means unknown. unknown. Her body was found behind a shack on Sand Dune Road north of Liberty on October 17. In n signed signed statement, Johnston said he bad left her there, unconscious, on October October 15. The state’s case hinged on circumstantial circumstantial evidence, because the cause of death was not known, and a weapon was never found. Cain Prosecutes C. B. Cain, special prosecutor for the state in the case, told the jury in his summation that the defend nut “had obviously pommeled her with his fists, or with some instru ment in the truck,” thereby causing her death. Dr. C. W. Castle of Liberty, who examined the body shortly after it was found on October 17, told the court that he did not know the cause of death. The whole case centered around a statement made by Johnston after after his arrest. In the statement, Johnston said Mis. Sackett jumped from his pickup pickup truck two miles from where the body was found and he picked het- up, drove her to the shack and had sexual relations with her. He said she was unconscious all the while, and after he tried to revive her and failed, he “got scared and left.” Whole Statement Brought In The state introduced only portions portions of the lengthy statement in the trial, but Defense Attorney C. I). Little of Baytown introduced that portion of the statement which the state left out. In the portions introduced by the state, the references to a $2 date Johnston made with Mrs. Sackett, and also the part about Mrs. Sackett Sackett jumping out of the car were left out. In the summation, Prosecutor Cain told the jury that those parts were left out because the state considered considered them “filthy lies.” Defense Attorney Little’s argument argument contended that the statement made by Johnston was true, because because it was “logical and reason able.” Attorney Little also told the jury, “I maintain some sort of examination examination of the body should have been made.” Woods Gives Summary County Attorney W. (J, "Dub” Woods, Jr., was the first to give summation foi the state Saturday morning. His argument hubbed around the contention that Mrs. Sackett never agreed to go on a date with Johnston for $'J, because testimony proved she had $5 in Iter billfold and Johnston said in his statement that she had paid for his beer. “The State of Texas doesn’t believe believe about her jumping out of that truck and about her making a date . . . the State believes she fought until she died to keep from submitting submitting to James Monroe Johnston,” the county attorney told the jury. Also presenting summation to the jury was District Attorney Grover C. Lowe, who sat at the council table throughout the trial. Attorney Little’s partner, .loo Zorn, who helped with the defense I throughout the trial, spoke to the jury Saturday morning. Two Days to Get Jury It took the first two days of the trial to select a jury. The members members of the jury were: L. M. Spinn and J. C. Rice, both of Cleveland; Ray Holub, Liberty; J. W. Chalfant, Chalfant, Daisetta; J. J. Basham, Hull; M. C. Crocker, Liberty; H. II. Hill, Dayton; L. Pattillo, Hardin; Samuel Samuel 1). Wells, Cleveland; A. N. Gunter, Marysee; J. E. Shipman, Jr., Dayton, and Ix>uis W. Johnston, Ray wood. The state only called a portion of the witnesses it had subpoenaed, resting its case at 3:18 p.m. Friday, Friday, The defense took only a little over 30 minutes to present its case, which consisted mainly of questioning questioning persons who attested to the good conduct of the defendant. The defense rested at 4:35 p.m. Friday. Louis Ulkie Hurl V\ orkiiiji

Clipped from
  1. The Liberty Vindicator,
  2. 22 Apr 1954, Thu,
  3. Page 9

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