Lawyer Loses First Case
As Written in the Ashe County (NC) Journal
Death Penalty Averted
"It's the first one in 30 years!" Edwin Marger said in utter disbelief.
"It's the first murder trial I've been retained for in 30 years that I've lost."
It was Thursday. An Ashe County Superior Court jury had just returned a guilty verdict against Marger's client, Paul Wilson Bare. Convicted of kidnapping and murdering Lonnie Marshall Gamboa, Bare will return to court Monday so that the same jury can decide whether the penalty for his crime will be death or life in prison.
Judge Donald L. Smith set the sentencing part of the trial for Monday because Marger had to represent a client in Puerto Rico on Friday.
In U.S. District Court in San Juan, he represented Franz Bennett, brother-in-law of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, dictator of Haiti.
Although Bennett originally faced several federal drug charges, Marger plea-bargained for a conviction on a single count of cocaine possession.
"We haven't been home in weeks," said Didi Nelson, Marger's 26-year-old paralegal aide, last week. "The Duvaliers didn't call Ed until the week before the case was being heard, so we just haven't stopped."
Marger, 54, New York-born, Miami-raised and Atlanta-based, spends a lot of his time in his private airplane. That suits him fine, however, since he is also a pilot with more than 14,000 hours recoded in his logbook.
With his linen suits, white hats and red suspenders—and his high-roller manners—he attracted a lot of attention in Ashe County during the Bare trial.
Marger scoffed at rumors that his fee for the case exceeded $200,000. He said that his normal fee is $100,000 plus expenses, but he said he worked the Ashe County trial for considerably less than that because he knew Bare's cousin, Dean Bare, from Georgia.
Marger came into the case after John Siskind, the Jefferson attorney originally hired by the family, said he would need the help of an experienced murder trial lawyer.
Marger's past clients include such notables as the Duvaliers, Black Muslim leader Elijah Mohammed and American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell.
The drug dealing that prosecutors claim led to Gamboa's death is nothing new to Marger. Almost 25 years ago, he was special counsel to the late U. S. Sen. Estes Kefauver.