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Leslie Irvin

Irvin after being arrested
Background information
Born: 1924
Indiana, United States
Died: November 9, 1983
Cause of death: Lung cancer
Killings
Number of victims: 6+
Span of killings: 1954–1955
Country: United States
State(s): Indiana
Date apprehended: April 8, 1955

Leslie "Mad Dog" Irvin (1924–1983) was an American serial killer whose killing spree in the early 1950s terrorized residents of southwestern Indiana and whose Supreme Court case set a precedent for ensuring a fair trial for defendants even in the wake of a great deal of pretrial publicity.

He was apprehended on April 8, 1955 after killing six people. He was eventually given the death penalty, but the sentence was overturned; he was instead given a life sentence and died in prison of lung cancer. [1]

β€˜The constitutional claim arises in this way. Six murders were committed in the vicinity of Evansville, Indiana, two in December 1954, and four in March 1955. The crimes, extensively covered by news media in the locality, aroused great excitement and indignation throughout Vanderburgh County, where Evansville is located, and adjoining Gibson County, a rural county of approximately 30,000 inhabitants. The petitioner was arrested on April 8, 1955. Shortly thereafter, the Prosecutor of Vanderburgh County and Evansville police officials issued press releases, which were intensively publicized, stating that the petitioner had confessed to the six murders. The Vanderburgh County Grand Jury soon indicted the petitioner for the murder which resulted in his conviction. This was the murder of Whitney Wesley Kerr allegedly committed in Vanderburgh County on December 23, 1954. Counsel appointed to defend petitioner immediately sought a change of venue from Vanderburgh County, which was granted, but to adjoining Gibson County. Alleging that the widespread and inflammatory publicity had also highly prejudiced the inhabitants of Gibson County against the petitioner, counsel, on October 29, 1955, sought another change of venue, from Gibson County to a county sufficiently removed from the Evansville locality that a fair trial would not be prejudiced. The motion was denied, apparently because the pertinent Indiana statute allows only a single change of venue.’

During the course of the voir dire examination, which lasted some four weeks, petitioner filed two more motions for a change of venue and eight motions for continuances. All were denied.[2]

The case went on the United States Supreme Court as Irvin v. Dowd.

References

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