New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 14, 1985, New Braunfels, Texas
IA New Braunfels HeraUi-Zeitung Wednesday, August 14, 1985
Judge orders suicide wiped from record
AUSTIN < AP i — A mystery that began 24 years ago on a Central Texas farm and entangled even Vice President Lyndon Johnson has taken another legal twist, one that soothes Henry Marshall’s family but still leaves the case an enigma.
State District Judge Peter Lowry ruled Tuesday that the 1961 death of Marshall, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official investigating the cotton allotment dealings of West Texan Billie Sol Estes, was a murder, not a suicide.
Marshall was found dead on his Central Texas farm with five rifle bullets in his body, and despite his family's attempts to prove the death a murder, the case was listed as suicide until Tuesday.
But Lowry’s ruling involved only the cause of death listed on Marshall’s death certificate, and made no mention of who might have killed him. There is no indication the investigation will be reopened.
“All we want is to correct the public record for our children and grandchildren.” said Phil Banks, lawyer for the widow and a son. Don Marshall, a Houston-area school official. “We are not asking any insurance or any damages or that anybody be sent to jail.”
According to earlier statements by former Robertson County District Attorney John Paschall, Estes, a convicted swindler, told a grand jury last year that Johnson had ordered Marshall killed to prevent him from exposing Estes’ fraudulent business dealings and his ties wnth Johnson.
Estes’ claims about Johnson’s involvement were not part of the hearing. Johnson’s associates
have flatly denied Estes claims and have said several times that he exaggerated his ties to Johnson, who became president in 1963.
A local justice of the peace ruled Marshall’s death a suicide. In 1962, a grand jury reported finding no evidence to warrant changing that ruling.
Paschall testified Tuesday that he presented the case to a 1984 grand jury because he had heard “rumors” it wasn’t suicide.
After a day-long hearing with a half-dozen witnesses, including Estes, that grand jury declared the death a homicide, but returned no indictments and did not accuse anyone.
Paschall confirmed last year that Estes had accused Johnson of ordering Marshall murdered.
"There is no question in my mind that he did not commit suicide,” Paschall testified Tuesday.“It would have been impossible for him to inflict multiple bullet wounds with a bolt-action .22 rifle.”
Bob Marshall, Marshall’s younger brother, said he was in business with his brother and knew he had no reason to commit suicide.
“He owned his own land and cattle. He could pay every penny he owed.” Marshall said. “They had a new’ little boy and he was the happiest man in the world "
Former Texas Ranger Capt Clint Peoples, who investigated the 1961 slaying, testified Monday that there was evidence of “a terrific struggle” at the death scene.
Estes refused to testify before the 1962 grand jury. Peoples has said that while he escorted Estes
to federal prison in 1966, they talked of Marshall’s death. Peoples quoted Estes as saying, “You can bet your life it wasn't suicide. It was murder.”
He told Peoples to look “towards Washington” for the killer, the former Ranger said.
When Estes was released from prison late in 1983, he contacted Peoples. Estes was granted immunity to testify before the 1984 grand jury.
Previously published reports, which were not used in the hearing this week, said Estes told the grand jury that Marshall had information that could link Johnson to Estes’ illegal schemes and a multimillion-dollar political slush fund that Estes claimed was being run by Johnson.
Estes has refused to discuss the case, outside of the appearance before the grand jury. But he told The Dallas Morning News Tuesday that the details of Marshall's death are a mystery.
“I think there’s still a God in heaven, and I think that God will straighten history out,” Estes said. “I’ve decided that none of us can do it down here.”
Estes reportedly identified the late Malcolm Wallace, a former U.S. Agriculture Department economist in Texas, as the triggerman. Wallace died in an automobile accident in 1971.
Wallace’s family has said he was in California on the day Marshall died.
Estes, who piled up a fortune in a swindle involving non-existent tanks of fertilizer, was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud in 1962 and of fraud and concealing assets in 1979 He served prison terms from 1965 to 1971 and from 1979 to 1983.Briefly
Clery denounce opinion
for phony soviet agent
AUSTIN (AP) — A Yugoslavian accused of posing as a Soviet agent to swindle an Austimman was an "intermediary” who could have produced the man’s captive son if the FBI had not intervened, a defense lawyer says.
Bratislav Ulic is charged with cheating Douglas Pierce out of $46,000 by promising he could win the release of John Pierce, a derrick hand on board a drilling ship that sank in the South China Sea on Oct. 25,1983.
Defense lawyer Joe Turner said during a break in the trial Tuesday that Lilic wants to testify, but Turner said he is trying to talk his client out of it.
Turner added that Lilic was an “intermediary” connected with the Soviet embassy, and he would have been able to deliver the younger Pierce if the FBI had not intervened.
lulic faces a maximum of 35 years in prison if convicted of all four 'fraud-related federal charges. Testimony in the trial resumes today.
Street name change calls for election
BEAUMONT <AP> - The changing of a street name to honor Martin Luther King Jr. is requiring a city election even though the Beaumont City Council already renamed a thoroughfare for the slain civil rights leader.
The council on Tuesday set a Nov. 5 election after area blacks,
represented by the NAACP, gathered more than 1,200 signatures required to call the election.
On June 25, the council unanimously renamed a three-street system to form a new north-south arterial to honor King. The city planned to build a thoroughfare of the system in a 10-year, $30 million project to connect the street from Interstate Highway IO and Cardinal Drive.
Voters will now decide to stick w ith the council’s action or else choose to rename College Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
In two previous elections, voters have decided against renaming a major city street after King.
Estes charged with sexual assault
ABILENE (AP) - Paroled swindler Billie Sol Estes was free on $10,000 bond after being charged w ith sexually assaulting a Mexican w ldow and mother of six who had come to Abilene to be his housekeeper.
Estes, 60, was arrested Tuesday after Abilene police conducted a three-week investigation into the allegation by the 38-year-old Mexican woman that he raped her in an office building July 26.
He made bond about three hours after his arrest and was released from Taylor County Jail, a sheriff’s deputy said.
An Abilene police detective said the case probably will be brought before a grand jury in the next few weeks.
Estes, who has been on parole twice while serving a 15-year sen-
tence for his multimillion dollar swindle involving non-existent fertilizer tanks and federal agriculture loans, has not made a statement to police about Tuesday's charge.
Asked for comment by the Abilene Reporter News as he was leaving jail,
Estes said, “I don't have any comment. Thank you for your time, though.”
District Attorney Jorge Solis said Estes was initially “very congenial and cooperative” with the investigators but said “he'd like to exercise his right to remain silent.”
Autopsy reveals mother, son were suffocated
BRENHAM IAP) — A mother and her 11-year-old son who were abducted as they left a weekend church service died of suffocation, autopsy reports show.
Kathy Coppedge. 35, and her son. Casey, were found dead late Sunday on an isolated stretch of U.S. Highway 290 near Burton, said Brenham Police Chief Alfred Becker
Autopsies showed the two suffocated, Becker said Tuesday .
“I would think they would have suffocated in the trunk due to the tremendous heat,” he said.
When found, Mrs. Coppedge was naked from the waist down and apparently had been raped. Becker said.
Phil Coppedge called police Sunday afternoon after his wife and son failed to return from morning services at the Brenham Presbyterian Church.
“He was alarmed that she hadn't come home. He knew by then that something had happened,” said the Rev. Tom Currie, minister at the church.
Police found the car late Sunday parked along the highway outside Brenham, about 70 miles west of Houston.
One church member reported seeing the pair in their 1982 Buick with two men after services
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Mattox says church must report abuse
■ I I I I I
AUSTIN (AP) — Texas church officials say an attorney general’s opinion that state law requires even the clergy to report cases of child abuse could cause serious problems for clergymen who hear confessions or counsel people.
“I would go to jail before I would ever admit anything that was brought to me in confession. I don’t know a priest that wouldn’t do the same thing.” said Monsignor James Jamail, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in southwest Houston. •
Attorney General Jim Mattox on Monday released an opinion saying a priest or minister is legally bound to report cases of child abuse, even if he learned of it from an abuser who admitted it rn confidence.
The law "requires a minister of an established church to report evidence of child abuse when confidentially disclosed to him by a parishioner,” the opinion said.
Mattox also said state law doesn't give the clergy exemption from being required to testify rn court proceedings involving child abuse.
An attorney general’s opinion customarily carries the weight of
law and remains in effect unless overturned in court or by the Legislature.
Several religious leaders said the opinion conflicts with church law and practices.
Tammy Edgerly-Dowd, a canon lawyer with the Diocese of Austin, said a Catholic priest cannot violate the promise not to repeat what is confessed, “unfortunately even at the expense of the children.”
The canon law of the Catholic church, she told the Austin American Statesman, explicitly states that it “is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or any other manner, for any reason.”
If the confidence is broken by the priest, she said, the penalty is automatic excommunication that can be reversed only by the Vatican.
“Nobody can defend child abuse But if we make it difficult for a person to go to his clergyman w ith a problem, and if we make the clergyman a criminal if he doesn’t go to the police, then we're taking a bad situation and making it worse,” said Brother Richard Daly, a lobbyist for the Texas Catholic Conference
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