Jury Acquits Vick of Killing Mother
As written in the Huntsville (Texas) Item
Norman Vick was judged innocent Thursday for the alleged poisoning-murder of his 82-year-old mother as the three-day trial held in the district courtroom of the Walker County Courthouse ended.
The seven-man-five-woman jury deliberated approximately an hour before finding Vick, a 49-year-old commercial fisherman from Florida, did not participate in the murder of his mother, Edith Vick of Huntsville.
Vick was alleged to have killed his mother by serving her orange juice laced with methanol alcohol over a three-day period before her subsequent death July 16, 1978.
In the final day of testimony defense Thursday, counsel Ed Marger presented two physicians to counter the state's medical witnesses.
Dr. Yale Kaplan, chief toxicologist of the state examiner's office in Baltimore, Md., testified he would not have conducted tests on specimens from Edith Vick's body because of questionable shipping procedures used in this case.
Marger outlined in lengthy narration that the procedure included packing the specimens in Huntsville, repacking in Houston, shipment of the package to the Houston airport, placement of the goods in the aircraft, transfer of the goods to St. Louis, and finally their arrival to Smith-Kline laboratories.
Smith-Kline Laboratories conducted tests on the specimens which Bryan pathologist Dr. Sidney Kowierschke used on Sept. 13, 1978, to decide the cause of death was methanol poisoning.
Kaplan said he believed the cause of death could not be determined in this case with the information which was supplied.
District Attorney Mark Ward, in questioning Kaplan, revealed that the Maryland physician became involved in the case at the request of Marger and he was being paid a fee.
Dr. Douglas Jenkins, a San Antonio physician who treated Edith Vick after her admittance to the Huntsville Memorial Hospital July 15, 1978, said he had no recollection of being told by the victim's grandchildren she may have been poisoned that Saturday night. He also said he was not given the orange juice which Edith Vick's grandchildren, Andrewlene Vick, Cathleen Vick, and Hank Vick (all of Austin) believed to contain methanol alcohol.
The Vick children testified Wednesday that they stored a sample of orange juice which they believed their father prepared on the Saturday morning in July, 1978, and used to kill their grandmother.
Andrewlene Vick testified Wednesday that Hank and Cathleen Vick arrived Saturday night after receiving her phone message in which she described her father's actions as "suspicious."
She said her brother, sister, and two friends assisted in transporting her grandmother by ambulance to the hospital. She said once her grandmother was taken to the hospital, each person tested the orange juice, spit it out, and remarked that it tasted "bitter", "wretched" or had "a strong alcoholic taste."
Hank Vick, who referred to his father as a "bum" during his testimony, said following his grandmother's death the next morning, he turned the orange juice over to Dr. Eugene Addison, the attending physician.
An investigation sponsored by the Vick children which included an autopsy and Smith-Kline lab tests precipitated the investigation and indictment of Vick on Nov. 2, 1978.
The state ordered one rebuttal witness Thursday. Beverly Johnson, the defendant's sister, testified that her brother asked for money on a consistent basis following her mother's death.
"Every morning it was standard procedure for Norman to ask when the will was going to be settled," Johnson said.
In Wednesday's testimony Marger brought out that of the $34,000 estate the defendant only received $2,000 after the family confronted him with a letter accusing him of murdering his mother.
"I drank some of the orange juice myself," Johnson recalled her brother saying just before accepting the "get out of town" money.
Johnson was the final witness paraded before presiding Judge Joe Ned Dean of the 285th District Court.
"I feel as if we solved a major family problem. There is no animosity. Their guilt is enough to bear," Norman Vick said following the verdict.
But Vick said he plans to take legal action against the family.
"I plan to file a lawsuit and have it served on them before I leave," said Vick.
He said he hopes to recover his estate share, and then redistribute it back to his children as he sees fit.