In my previous post on Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray I discussed the dramatic life and death of Sir Harry Oakes. This post deals with the trial of “Count” Marie Alfred Fonquereaux de Marigny better known as Freddie for the murder of Sir Harry Oakes. The trial opens with a dramatic oration by Crown counsel, Alfred Adderly:
“Murder is murder, and a life is a life,” Adderly boomed at the jury, “but this murder is, as Shakespeare, the immortal Bard, says in on eof his sonnets, ‘as black as hell and as dark as night,’” Erle Stanley Gardner was enthralled, describing the Crown counsel’s address as “masterly …. As able a courtroom speech as I have ever heard.”De Marigny was well represented by Godfrey Higgs and Ernest Callender. While they had limited experience in criminal defence they crushed the American “experts”.
Daly’s assurances were sly, to put it mildly, since he went on to explain that the Crown case was deeply flawed. He described Captain Barker’s failure to follow accepted practice for fingerprint evidence as “incomprehensible” and characterized Captain Melchen’s admission that he didn’t know about the fingerprint evidence until he heard Barker describe it to Lady Oakes as “extraordinary”. Although the judge cautioned that there was no evidence the two Florida detectives had fabricated evidence, he suggested that both the police evidence and the expert evidence should be treated skeptically. Sir Oscar also deplored the mistakes and contradictions offered by the Nassau police witnesses and hoped that a thorough departmental investigation would be held. The jury must decide whether the police “were trying to make the facts fit their theories.I was surprised to learn the jury had to be unanimous for a guilty verdict but needed but two-thirds for a not guilty decision.