Once again I passed through the cordon of police in the corridor
of the Hall of Justice, passed the handsome deputy in the little pine door
and the bailiff at the entrance to the courtroom, and once again none of
them seemed to suspect that I do not know the difference between right
and wrong or that it might seem eminently proper to me to dismember thema
nd scatter their remnants in Elysian Park.
IS HICKMAN NOT GUILTY BECAUSE
MOTHER HEARD STRANGE NOISES?
That's Defense Idea as It Appears to Edgar Rice Burroughs;
'After Sizing Up Jurors, I'm Convinced
It Isn't Going to Get Very Far With Them,' He Adds
Los Angeles Examiner, February 1, 1928
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
Noted Writer, Creator of "Tarzan" and Author of "The
In fact, I never suspected this myself until I caught
the trend and purpose of the depositions read by the defense attorneys
in Judge Trabucco's court yesterday, from which I gather that insane people
do not know the difference between right and wrong and that people who
suffer from hallucinations are insane.
The idea, as it appeared to me, is to prove that Hickman
is not guilty of kidnaping and murder because his mother thought she heard
strange noises about the house at night.
In other words she suffered from hallucinations, therefore
she was crazy; therefore she did not know the difference between right
and wrong; therefor anyone who does wrong my suffer from hallucinations,
which unquestionably proves them insane, therefore Hickman is innocent,
Q. E. D.
When I was a young man, I thought, upon a certain occasion,
I could thrash a policeman. It was an hallucination. ONce I had an hallucination
that I could write a play. With these facts well established and a matter
of record I may now start upon a career of murder.
And consider the lives of constant danger that all of
us married men lead, for how many of us are there who do not sleep nightly
in the same room with one who hears things about the house after dark?
That is, I mean, of course if we are sleeping where we should.
So far the evidence adduced has not been very convincing,
even as to the insanity of Mrs. Hickman, let alone the inability of her
son to know that wanton murder is not considered entirely good form, and
after sizing up the Hickman jury I am of the opinion that it is not going
to get very far with them.
A point was brought out in the deposition of Hickman's
high school chum, John Johnson, that is the most damning evidence thus
far submitted, and that further crystallizes my already unalterable convition
that the world will be better off after Mr. Hickman has departed hence.
He was a boy orator.
That was the first downward step, after that came forgery,
robbery, kidnaping, murder.
I have known all along that something like this
was goiong to happen if some steps were not taken to stem the tide of boy
Consider the astounding statement made recently in a local
newspaper that the 1928 crop of boy orators will moiunt to the appalling
toal of 2,000,000! Imagine the consequences of annually turning loose upon
us 2,000,000 Heflins.
It is safe to assume that the defense will attempt to
show that insanity is hereditary. That should not be difficult, as expert
opinion is quite unanimous upon that point, and the defense may even prove
that Hickman is or hs been insane, but let us hope that noting occurs to
confuse the legal and medical definition of insanity in the mind of a single
NORMALITY OF MIND
By medical standards one might easily be accounted insane
whome the law could hold to strict accouintability for his every act. Mental
depression, extreme nervous irritability are not normal condition sof
a healthy mind and a mind tha tis not normal may be adjudged insane, according
to the testimony of one of the physicians who attended Mrs. Hickman prior
to her commitment ot the Arkansas lunatic asylum.
As a matter of fact, however, the only issue in this trial
may be summed up in a single question: Did William Edward Hickman believe
that he was doing right when he kidnaped and murdered Marion Parker?
Or, to be more fair, was he ignorant of the fact that
he was committing an act that would prove harmful to her? Such a conclusion
is incredible and because it is so increadible this whole, seemingly interminable
business of determingin something that everyone already knows, assumes
the proportion of a vast hoax -- a hoax that society is playing upon itself
and paying for, not only in money today, but will continue to pay for in
money and tears and suffering for generations to come.
What is the answer? I believe that the answer could be
given by such men as Judge Trabucco if they were not hampered by the necessitites
of present-day criminal court procedure.