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Paul Wright trial
Alternative Title
Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection
Date Created and/or Issued
Contributing Institution
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
Rights Information
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Paul Wright, an aviation company executive, and his friend, John Kimmel, attended a private club meeting on the evening of November 9, 1937. After the meeting they went out for a nightcap at Clara Bow's "It Cafe" in Hollywood. It was getting very late so Paul suggested that John accompany him home, ostensibly to provide back-up when his wife Evelyn questioned him about where, and with whom, he had spent the evening. It was after 2 a.m. when they pulled up to Paul's hilltop home in Glendale. Once inside Paul said he felt fatigued and went to the bedroom for a nap--leaving Evelyn to entertain John. Paul later recalled the events of that night, "I was awakened by some sort of sound--like a piano. It started me out of my sleep. I went to the living room door and saw that the lights were still on. Johnny was sitting at the piano. I could just see his head. He was looking downward. I couldn't see Evelyn and I wondered where she was." It didn't take him long to figure out where his wife was. At that moment everything inside of Paul exploded in what he later described as a "white flame." He got his gun and shot John and Evelyn to death. Paul was put on trial for the slayings. His attorney, Jerry Giesler, had conceived of a creative defense for his client. He said that Paul's WWI service (during which he was gassed), a post-war tuberculosis attack, and a voluntary vasectomy combined to make him emotionally unstable--capable of more violent reactions to shock than normal men. At the time of his arrest Paul had confessed to the murders, but when he got to trial his story changed and his memory conveniently began to fail him. How would the jury view his shifting story? The jury of eight men and four women listened to the x-rated testimony and contemplated Giesler's vasectomy defense. In the end, they found Paul Wright guilty on two counts of manslaughter. But there was a twist--the jury also found that he had been insane at the time of the murders so he was not guilty. When the Lunacy Commission examined Wright they concurred with the jury that Paul Wright was no longer insane. He was freed and would never serve a single day in prison.
Paul Wright on the stand being questioned by his attorney Jerry Giesler. Photograph dated February 3, 1938.
1 photographic print :b&w ;21 x 26 cm.
Photographic prints
Herald Examiner Collection
HE box 7404
Giesler, Jerry,--1886-1962
Trials (Murder)--California--Glendale
Glendale (Calif.)
Los Angeles Evening Herald and Express photographs
Herald-Examiner Collection photographs

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