Walence Trial, Part VII

by Laurel | April 25th, 2012

14 March 1933

Walence Trial Testimony Starts at Holyoke Today

Jury, Selected with Little Difficulty, to Consider Case of Woman Accused of Killing Husband

Testimony in the trial of Mrs. Mary (Szerbink) Walence, 43, of Holyoke, mother of five children, charged with the murder of her husband Paul Walence, 44-year-old storekeeper of 71 Linden street, Holyoke, will start this morning. The trial was opened in superior court yesterday before Judge Daniel T. O’Connell and a jury, the jury being selected in two hours. The case is the first in which a woman has been tried for murder in this county for 13 years.

After the jury was selected — 38 talesmen were called before 12 were found acceptable by both sides — the members were taken out to lunch and then taken to Holyoke to view the scene of the murder. On their return from Holyoke Deputy Sheriffs Edward J. Leyden and Dennis Hogan were sworn in as guards for the jurors. The 12 men in the jury will be kept together constantly until the termination of the trial and will be housed in one of the local hotels under the guard of the deputy sheriffs.

Mrs. Walence, who weighs only 125 pounds and stands 5 feet 2 inches tall, sat quietly in the prisoner’s cage in the courtroom nearly all day, paying no attention to the crowd which jammed every available seat in the room. She kept her eyes almost constantly to the front, watching her attorneys, Thomas C. Maher and Gregory Scanlon; watching also District Attorney Thomas F. Moriarty and Assistant District Attorney John J. Granfield, who represent the commonwealth.

School Children Attend

She was dressed in black and wore a brown coat and a black felt hat. She is charged with having shot and killed her husband while he slept early the morning of July 11, 1932, at their home in Holyoke. She denies all knowledge of this crime. A revolver with which the crime was committed was found in the rear yard of the Walence home, 10 feet from the rear door.

Many of those in the courtroom yesterday afternoon were high school pupils, youths who came seeking a thrill of a murder trial. they and the others who crowded the room were disappointed for there was no action in the afternoon until nearly 4 when the jury returned from Holyoke. The judge, the district attorney and counsel for the defendant also made the trip.

Jurors who were finally selected yesterday morning for the trial of Mrs. Walence were: Harold J Reilly of Longmeadow, a clerk; Edmond Boily of Ludlow, a barber; Patrick F. Quinlivan, of Springfield, a janitor, who was made foreman of the jury; Matthew Witkop of Hampden, a farmer; Thomas Ryan, Jr. of Westfield, a clerk; John M. Grogan of Springfield, an electrical contractor; Alfred T. Mills of Springfield, a barber; William H. McGuire of Wilbraham, a farmer; Leo A. Lucas of Chicopee, an accountant; Clifford M. Cowall of West Springfield, a printer; Daniel Joseph Doyle of Springfield, a laborer; and Herman F. Dreyer of Springfield, a machinist.

Many Jurors

Thirty-eight jurors were called in separately by Judge O’Connell to answer the preliminary questions before 12 were acceptable to both sides. The commonwealth and defense each challenged 10, and six were excused. Some years ago in capital cases it was a common thing to hear juror after juror in the preliminary examination state that he was so unalterably opposed to capital punishment that he could not render a true verdict in a capital case. Only three or four expressed a rigid conviction against capital punishment today. A few said that they did not favor it, but at the same time could render a true verdict, despite their opposition to capital punishment. Formerly it was comparatively common to have jurors say that had formed strong convictions relative to the case itself, especially when it was one involving much public interest. No such unalterable convictions were expressed today by any jurors. A few had said that they had read the newspaper accounts of it, but their minds were not swayed by anything they had read.

The summary of the challenges and those excused is as follows: —

Challenged by the Commonwealth: Robert F. Murray of Springfield, salesman; Stanley Bigda of Chicopee, electrical engineer; Stanley Nowak of Chicopee, mechanic; Albert L Gaulin of West Springfield, machinist; Wilson H. Doherty of Springfield, salesman; Dennis M. Sweeney, Springfield, clerk; Michael Tobin, Holyoke, real estate; Albert Kress, Holyoke, textile operator; John Stepczyk, Chicopee, printer.

Challenged by the defendant: Henry J. Dagg of Springfield, cigar salesman; Howard F. Pellissier, Holyoke, assistant superintendent; Harry E. Ballard, Holyoke, engineer; Lewis E. Robbins, Springfield, lumber dealer; Charles H. Osborne, Springfield, superintendent; Eugene E. Adams, Springfield, retired; Harry K Smith, Springfield, security salesman; Albert B. Woodward of Springfield, general foreman; Donald Grant, West Springfield, salesman; Patrick F. Ryan, Springfield, motorman.

Excused: Edward M. Callahan, Holyoke, salesman; James Thomas Daly, drop forger; Stefan Zajchowski, Chicopee, clerk; Howard W. Frasier, Agawam, pressman; Francis J. McNerney, Holyoke, paper finisher; Daniel P. Donoghue, Holyoke, steam engineer.

Previously published articles about this case:

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