I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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New Book about thirties Laurel Murder case, The Legs Murder Scandal

A couple of weeks ago, the Clarion Ledger had a story about a book about a mid-thirties murder case in Laurel that has been called “Mississippi’s Lizzie Borden.”  The case started when a woman’s legs (and no other part of her body) was discovered; things came quickly to point to her daughter, Ouida Keeton.  The author of the book, The Legs Murder Scandal, Hunter Cole, described the case to the paper:

“After the murder, she went into a state of semi-consciousness,” he said.

Her trial was a spectator event, with 1,000 people showing up daily to the courtroom that seated 500.

“Ouida sat in a wheelchair staring at the ceiling through every day of her trial, and she had gone mute,” Cole said.

She spent her days in the courtroom and nights in the Laurel hospital, he said.

“The last exhibit displayed before the jury was her mother’s legs (in a small box or casket),” he said. “They sat them on the floor beside Ouida, and she paid no attention to them.”

Keeton was convicted and sentenced to life but later was sent to Whitfield and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Cole said.

Cole notes:  “Oudia Keeton ater implicated her former boss – and lover – W.M. Carter as the killer.”  Carter was tried for the murder after Ouida Keeton, convicted, and his conviction was reversed and remanded by the Mississippi Supreme Court in a case not reported in the official reporter.  While the case was remanded, it certainly reads pretty close to final.  Here’s some of the opinion, which is at 166 So. 377:

Mrs. Keeton was killed either on Saturday night, January 19, 1935, or the next morning. On the trial Ouida Keeton testified that on Saturday night after midnight she admitted appellant into her bedroom and while he was in there her mother, who was sleeping in an adjoining room, stirred in bed; that appellant thereupon went into her mother’s room and shot her to death with a pistol; that she then went to her mother, and while there appellant threatened her life, and from that time on until the next Wednesday her mind was a blank -she knew nothing that occurred.

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