Perry Mason (1957) s06e14 Episode Script

The Case of the Bluffing Blast

Excuse me.
l'm looking for the omice of a newspaper-- the Ladera Ledger? Could you take me there, please? You don't need me, ma'am.
It's just up the street.
Can't miss it.
Ladera Farms is your biggest advertiser.
Does that bother you? No! You print a story in this rag of yours that cuts milk sales twenty percent in one day-- twenty percent! You trying to cut our throat or yours, Elliot? Read the story, Floyd.
lt says the stench of ammonia gas for blocks around the Ladera Farms plant is so strong it's to be regarded as a public hazard.
l warn you, Elliot.
l'll have my attorney take you to court on this.
Make much more sense if you had a good mechanic go over that machinery of yours and stop polluting the air with leaking ammonia fumes.
l'm not gonna take this from you! - [door opens] - [Linda] Excuse me.
l'm Clay Elliot.
May l help you? l'm looking for the man who owns this newspaper-- Mr.
Addison Blake.
Addison Blake? l'm Linda Blake.
Addison Blake is my father.
That's impossible.
Addison Blake never had a daughter.
l beg your pardon? He never had any children.
In fact, he was never married.
l don't understand.
Where is my father? Addison Blake is dead.
lf you were his daughter, you wouldn't have to ask that question, would you? You'd know that Addison Blake was killed seven years ago.
Mr.
Morescu.
Mr.
Morescu.
Hi, Clay.
l gave Miss Blake room number 22.
l'll ring her for you.
Just a minute.
You were in Ladera seven years ago when Miss Blake's father died, weren't you? Addison Blake didn't just die, son.
He was murdered.
So l've heard more times than l can remember.
But nobody was ever arrested and tried.
What do you know about it? What everybody knows, l guess.
At any rate, what everybody believes.
That Charles Lambert, the owner of the dairy, killed him? Yup.
Boozing, bedeviling everybody.
Gotta give him credit, though.
He's laid om the bottle.
Done a real good job with Ladera Farms.
Why wasn't he arrested and tried? Seems somebody up and gave the kid an alibi-- man that ran the dairy.
Floyd Grant? Nobody else but.
l'll ring her for you.
Funny.
l know Miss Blake's in her room.
She should answer.
There's nothing wrong, is there? l don't know.
C'mon, let's see.
[knocking] [kettle hissing] Gas! Let get her out of there! Turn it om.
l started to boil some water for tea, then, well, l suddenly felt very tired.
lt's been a long trip, quite exhausting.
l thought l'd lie down first and rest.
And you're sure you shut om the gas jet? Yes, l turned it om.
And that window was open.
l'm sure of that.
Not much doubt about it, is there, Sherim Ramsey? Someone tried to kill Miss Blake.
Chances are she just plain forgot to open the window and shut om that gas.
The water had boiled over and put out the flame, and the gas was escaping while she slept.
Just like that? lt happens every day.
Murders and suicides sell papers, but accidents, mostly, are what kill people.
Are you sure it was an accident? Couldn't it just be that the window was open and someone reached in, turned on the gas without lighting it, closed the window again, all from the outside.
Clay, l'm too old to be sure of anything.
l'm just adding two and two to get four.
Now ask yourself: who in town knew Miss Blake arrived a few hours ago-- who, that is, with a reason to kill her? There was somebody.
The only person l spoke to - besides you, Mr.
Elliot, was that man in your omice.
The man that seven years ago supposedly gave Addison Blake's murderer an alibi! What? Mr.
Floyd Grant.
Two weeks ago, l sent you orders to fix the equipment, to get rid of that ammonia leak! - Mr.
Grant, l-- - You what? You ordered a new driveshaft for the standby compressor? Oh, sure, l have the bill right here.
Paid for and receipted by you, Joe Italiano, engineer for Ladera Farms.
But it was never delivered, Joe.
You signed that phoney voucher? But l can explain.
l-- Explain how you stole the money for the driveshaft, Joe, or why you stole it? The standby machine is on only during the day.
l worked every night for a week repacking this old driveshaft.
lt should have stopped the leak.
But it didn't.
Elliot's newspaper's calling for somebody's head.
Your head is on the block, Joe.
l'll pay back the money for the driveshaft, every penny of it.
How? Your salary's been attached for back payment of alimony.
How do you intend to pay the money back, Joe? From jail? The back pressure relief valve on the standby compressor-- Joe, what would happen if the valve was screwed down tight? When the pressure hit 212, the whole head would blow.
Releasing liquid ammonia under pressure in the same room with an operating air compressor.
What then, Joe? lt would blow the engine room sky high.
An accidental explosion.
Of course, with the insurance money, it wouldn't cost us a cent.
We could rebuild the engine room - and nobody would ever know about that driveshaft, Joe.
Nobody.
No no.
The clock, the automatic timer-- if it were set, say, not for tomorrow morning as it usual is, but for T tonight! T p.
m.
sharp, Joe.
The place would be empty.
Nobody would be hurt.
Even those records would be destroyed.
Oh, Mr.
Grant, l-- [phone rings] Engine Room.
Floyd Grant.
Oh, yes, Mrs.
Lambert.
ln your son's omice, huh? Uh-huh.
Yes, l'm talking to him right now.
Yes, Mrs.
Lambert.
l'll be right there.
Joe, a thousand dollars.
Out of the state and away from your troubles.
T p.
m.
sharp.
Mr.
President, Mr.
President's young wife, and Mr.
President's mother.
What is this, Sylvia, a meeting of the Board of Directors? This article by Clay Elliot.
You've read it? You know l've read it, just as you know l've taken care of it.
Don't waste my time.
Why'd you call me up here? Last night at the motel-- that Blake girl.
What happened to her? It was an accident, wasn't it, Floyd? Why don't you ask your son? Or are you afraid to bother him, bother him to the point where he'll go back on the bottle again? Don't push, Floyd, don't push! There's a limit.
You're so right, Sylvia, there is a limit-- a statute of limitations on perjury but not on murder! You're a disgusting monster.
Not quite to the manor born, Donella.
Not like your husband, Charlie boy, isn't that so? You know, it's a shame he isn't drinking anymore.
That's a bottle of real good stum he has stashed in the bottom drawer of his desk.
Charles! - You promised.
You swore.
- Cha-- Addison Blake died intestate-- without a will, without any apparent heirs.
The State Attorney General, after two years, acted to escheat.
Escheat? Escheat, Miss Blake, is the legal reversion of property to the state in the absence of heirs.
California owns my father's property? No, not quite.
Sherim Ramsey was authorized by the court to sell the estate's assets and deposit the monies realized in the state treasury.
And there was the dairy, which the Lamberts bought.
About T,500 acres of undeveloped grazing land some outfit called the Ganado Land Company bought and leased back to the dairy.
And the newspaper.
Clay Elliot's bucolic folly.
l bought the Ladera Ledger.
lt's less than five years since the sale, so the estate isn't permanently escheated.
You could petition to inherit.
How? Where? l haven't even got a lawyer.
You petition where the Attorney General maintains omices in Sacramento or, better still, in Los Angeles.
Just a moment.
Mrs.
Holmes, would you ring the Ladera Hotel? A Mr.
Perry Mason, he's up on business from Los Angeles.
He'll be in court all day, but try to can contact his secretary.
Tell her l called, and set up an appointment for Miss Blake for this evening-- 8:OO? Yes, 8 this evening.
Maybe Perry Mason can find the truth about this killing.
Seven years ago, Blake and some friends, including Floyd Grant and Charlie Lambert, went on a hunting trip together.
Blake was found separated from his friends and killed by his own gun.
The Coroner finally ruled it accidental death.
The morning of the day he was accidentally killed, Blake and Lambert had a very violent argument and fight.
Lambert swore in front of witnesses that he'd get even with Blake.
That's all in the record, son, including the fact that Lambert was so drunk he passed out, couldn't remember anything that happened the rest of the day.
So he said -- just as Floyd Grant said that he had found Lambert out cold and was trying to sober him up at the exact time that Blake was killed.
A little convenient, wouldn't you say? The death of Addison Blake was thoroughly investigated.
There was not and is not one scintilla of evidence to warrant an action against Charles Lambert or Floyd Grant.
Evidence.
He's guilty in the eyes of the whole community, yet to the law he's innocent.
lf Mr.
Grant had anything to do with my father's death, then wouldn't that explain his possible fear of my unexpected arrival? And his attempt to prevent the reopening of the case by a phony accidental death of Miss Blake.
But she didn't die, and there's no evidence it wasn't an accident.
l'm well aware of Grant's hostility toward Miss Blake.
That's one reason why l suggested she retain Perry Mason.
Hostility, Mr.
Taylor? Floyd Grant has informed this omice that he has proof, documented proof, that you are not Addison Blake's daughter, that you are nothing more than a fortune-hunting fraud.
Miss Blake! Oh, Miss Blake! This came for you by special messenger.
Thank you, Mr.
Morescu.
Something wrong? ls there anywhere l can rent a car here? l don't know.
You have a driver's license? - Yes, an English one.
- Well, it's good enough, l suppose.
- Use my car.
It's parked right here.
- Thank you.
Mr.
Grant, l'm-- l'm just not sure-- You'd better be sure.
The engine room at the dairy, and be on time-- T p.
m.
sharp.
[ring] Hello.
Yeah, just a minute.
Uh, it's for you, Perry.
A guy by the name of Floyd Grant.
Hello.
Mr.
Mason? l just spoke to Linda Blake.
That's right.
You have an appointment to see her sometime tonight.
lt's vitally important l speak to you before you see her.
- Can it wait? - No, it can't wait.
l've got to see you right now at my house.
l'll be waiting.
[click] Hello? ''or willful injury to the person or property of another, or violation of law whether willful or negligent --'' - Perry-- - Just a moment, Paul.
''such contract is against the policy of the law.
'' Now what is it, Paul? lt's almost T.
And this guy Floyd Grant on the phone you told us he wanted to see you almost immediately, and almost immediately was half an hour ago.
We'll finish the brief later, Della.
l may need a witness, Paul, and see what this Mr.
Grant has to say.
[buzzing] [clatter] - Wow! - What was that? The last time l heard a sound like that, l was on the deck of a destroyer, in the Pacific.
The engine room blew up.
[screaming] l heard somebody running.
l went to the door, and l opened it.
A man-- l never saw his face clearly-- pulled me out of the engine room, dragged me halmay across the parking lot, and pushed me to the ground.
Then came-- After the explosion, this man, whom you hardly saw, was gone - and you drove right back here? l wasn't thinking very clearly, l suppose.
But l had to come back here, don't you see? You figured Grant was trying to kill you, and you were furious.
Yes.
You wanted to beat the truth out of Grant.
Oh, no.
l didn't want to-- Why did you go see Grant the first time? He sent for me.
He warned me that l could go to jail if l tried to claim my father's estate because of some man.
A man who allegedly had documented proof that you were not really Addison Blake's daughter? Yes.
Mr.
Grant said that he'd arranged for me to meet this man.
Mr.
Grant said that the engine room would be empty, that this other man insisted on meeting me there secretly and alone.
And after the explosion, after you'd returned here? l rang, knocked.
There was no answer but the door was open!.
l came in, and l called his name.
He didn't answer.
l started to look through the house.
He -- One moment, Miss Blake.
The walking stick you were holding-- lt was just lying on the floor, and l picked it up.
l don't know why l did.
l just did.
And you never struck him with that walking stick? No, no! l didn't touch him! When l saw him, he was lying on the floor all bloody.
Ohh! [sobbing] Come, Miss.
Come along.
You'd better book her, Orville.
What charge? First degree murder.
You don't believe her story, Nelson? Perry, that walking stick she was holding, the one she never touched him with-- the knob on it was covered with blood and hair.
Even if she lied about hitting him, it could have been a sudden quarrel, heated anger considering that he'd just made a second try at killing her.
Joe Italiano, the engineer at the dairy, swears the explosion couldn't be rigged.
lt was a one-in-a-million accidental short circuit.
Yes, but Linda Blake didn't know that, Sherim.
All she knew was this Grant sent her out there and then the joint blew up.
lf he sent her, Mr.
Drake.
No matter how you reason it, she's in trouble.
She'll need help-- legal help, Perry.
She has it.
You? Yes.
You referred her to me, remember? Here, Paul.
Take my car keys.
You can drop me om at the hotel.
l'll have Della leave word where you can find me.
After l do what? After you find out what you can about refrigeration equipment, specifically how the machinery at the Ladera Farms engine room worked and if there's any other equipment in the area like it.
And, of course, after you do a little digging on Mr.
Joe Italiano personally.
And how soon do you want all the answers? Will an hour do? Oh, no rush.
Take two hours.
Did you see her? Mm-hmm.
Linda Blake was very grateful that you'd agreed to represent her.
l assured her you'd be in sometime in the morning.
Get the answers l wanted? Practically a full deposition.
Question-- ''Why did you wait over six and a half years after the death of Addison Blake to come foM/ard and file a claim as his heir?'' Answer-- ''Addison Blake was just a name to me until two months ago.
'' What Linda told me, she thought her father died during World War Il.
She didn't find out the truth until she was going over her mother's private papers after her mother died a few months ago in an accident.
A wartime romance.
Both parties agreed it was a bad mistake.
A quick wedding, an equally quick divorce.
She was too proud to tell her husband she was pregnant and later too ashamed to tell her daughter about the divorce.
That explains why Addison Blake died without making out a will.
These back issues help, but they don't tell enough.
Della.
Go to the County Hall of Records when they opens and, uh Get the entire escheat proceedings, a copy of all the records.
And what you can't find out from the records-- Have Paul Drake's omice find out.
lf you will note, please, counselor, exactly five minutes short of two hours.
- Hi, Clay.
- Hi, Paul.
Well? There's another ammonia compressor in town, exactly like the one that blew up.
We have a date in the morning with the engineer who runs it.
What about Joe Italiano, the Ladera Farms engineer? Well, he was in a bar, drinking like there was no tomorrow, then all of a sudden he gets up and runs out just before the explosion.
- l think l can guess why.
- Go ahead, guess.
A woman came into the bar Iooking for someone.
She was very upset.
The woman was Donella Lambert-- Mrs.
Charles Lambert.
lt was after she left that brother Joe Italiano took om like a scared rabbit.
Donella-- Donella.
That name rings a bell.
Yes, here it is.
''Miss Donella Wynne, private secretary to the late Addison Blake.
'' The same person.
She married Lambert a few months after Blake died.
From what l understand, she's the one who finally straightened him out, put him on the wagon.
Well, he must have come ''unput'' and fallen om that wagon because the man she was looking for in the bar was her husband Charles Lambert.
My husband's not well, Mr.
Mason.
He's in bed.
And under specific instructions from our physician that he is not to be disturbed.
l trust it's nothing serious.
The explosion at the plant-- naturally it upset him badly.
l believe the doctor referred to it as shock.
l thought possibly it might have been a hangover.
My husband doesn't drink-- hasn't in five years.
That why you went looking for him in a bar? Donella, call our attorney right now.
Your son will very likely be subpoenaed for the hearing, Mrs.
Lambert, so l'd still find out what he has to say.
Perhaps you'd better wait for the hearing, Mr.
Mason.
What l have to say l'll tell the authorities, with the advice of my attorney.
[Donella] Good night, Mr.
Mason.
No, no.
l told the sherim.
l told the sherim it had to be an accident.
Unless we can prove that someone deliberately planned to kill Miss Blake using the Ladera Farms compressor to accomplish it, she could go to the gas chamber.
Joe, if you don't mind, l thought you might be able to help us with a couple of experiments.
Why, sure.
Go ahead.
Glad to help.
Joe, let's suppose this is the engine room at Ladera Farms.
Now, someone's tampered with the timing clock.
lnstead of the standby compressor being set to go on in the morning, it's been set to go on now at T:OO in the evening.
You-- You're wasting your time.
There's nothing you can do that will make the compressor blow.
As an expert, l'm sure you're right.
However-- Okay, Paul, close it.
Let's just say that the machine can be made to explode.
Now where would you start? With the valve that Mr.
Drake has just closed? l told you no.
It's impossible.
With this valve? Look, this thing's no toy, you know.
There's liquid ammonia inside.
Now suppose this liquid ammonia were to escape at, say, 212 pounds of pressure.
Would the electric motor on the compressor set om an explosion? l-- Well, the-- No, no, it couldn't happen.
But if it could, how long would it take? You guys, you don't know what you're doin' in here! Maybe not, but we do have an idea about your back alimony and the salary attachment.
And the fact that you were over 300 bucks in the hole to the local bookie and that you paid him om Iate yesterday with new bills.
Did Grant pay you to fix that compressor so the explosion would happen a little after T? A man she can't identify pulled Linda Blake away from that engine room just after T:OO.
Was that you, Joe? Joe, if that man was you and you knew that place was going to blow up in a matter of seconds, saving that girl's life was an act of heroism, not the act of an accomplice to a murder.
Get away from that switch! Joe, the ammonia was drained from the compressor an hour ago.
There never has been any danger.
Ohh.
Five years ago, in the hospital, l was going to be operated on in the morning.
l was scared, crying like a baby.
The guy in the ne_ bed, he talked to me.
He-- He made me hold on to a Bible, and he talked to me.
''You're not going up there alone, Joe.
'' Charlie kept telling me that all night.
This Charlie who befriended you in the hospital, - was that Charles Lambert? - Yeah.
When Mr.
Lambert's wife came into the bar last night looking for him, l-- You thought you had unknowingly helped Grant set a deathtrap for Lambert? - Yeah.
- But it wasn't Charles Lambert.
lt was Linda Blake you rescued from that explosion.
You've got to believe me.
l thought Grant just wanted to collect insurance.
l didn't know he wanted to kill somebody! That's the truth! The truth! Miss Blake, l've asked Mr.
Mason, your attorney, to be here when l make this formal statement.
the District Attorney's omice is prepared to reduce the charge against you from First Degree Murder to Voluntary Manslaughter if you will enter a plea of guilty to the charge.
Before you answer, Miss Blake, if you wish to consult with me privately, l'm sure Mr.
Taylor will arrange it.
Of course.
Mr.
Mason, what happens if l do plead Voluntary Manslaughter? You could get at the most ten years in State Prison.
The least? The Adult Authority might be very lenient.
You could be released in a little over a year.
lf l don't plead guilty? Mr.
Taylor? Depending on the findings of the preliminary hearing, you would be tried in Superior Court.
You could be found guilty of First Degree Murder.
Or the jury could find you innocent or possibly guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter.
You're waiting for me to decide? l can advise you, but the decision would still be yours to make.
Mr.
Taylor, l know your omer is a generous gesture to help me, but-- But? l did not kill Floyd Grant.
l did not hit Floyd Grant.
l will not plead guilty to something l did not do.
The decedent obviously had been struck repeatedly about the head and shoulders by some blunt instrument.
Was this walking stick, People's Exhibit 1 , subjected to laboratory analysis? Yes, sir, it was examined, all right.
The rough te_ure of the wood didn't retain any fingerprints, but we found blood and hair on the knob end of the stick-- blood and hair of the exact same type as that of the decedent.
Your witness, Mr.
Mason.
This is an photograph of the head of the decedent.
Would you indicate on my head, Sherim, exactly where the fatal blow was struck? Sure.
Right there.
Right here? Yeah.
That's right.
Would you mind stepping out of the witness stand for a moment, Sherim? Take this walking stick, Sherim, please.
Hold it as you believe the defendant held it when she struck the decedent.
Now strike me, Sherim.
One moment.
Linda Blake is left-handed, Sherim.
Paul Drake and l are prepared to testify under oath that she was holding that walking stick in her left hand when we saw her in the room with the decedent.
Change hands, Sherim.
Now strike.
Thank you, Sherim.
l think that's all.
A moment, Sherim.
With the Court's permission, l have some redirect examination.
Proceed, Mr.
Taylor.
You testified the decedent was struck repeatedly.
Now keep that stick in your left hand and strike me repeatedly.
Strike me now, Sherim.
And now.
Thank you, Sherim.
l think that's all.
Oh, this hole in the head-- l believe it's yours, Mr.
Mason.
[laughter] ln my professional opinion, death resulted from the single blow of a blunt instrument, thus creating a fracture between the left occipital and parietal regions of the decedent's head.
Yes.
It was a depressed fracture.
Have you examined People's Exhibit 1 with relationship to that depressed wound, and if so with what results, Doctor? ln my opinion, it is highly probable that the instrument which was used had the same relative diameter as the knob on the head of this walking stick and that it inflicted the fatal blow.
Thank you, Doctor Lieberson.
Cross-examine.
Doctor Lieberson, that wound you described as deeply depressed enough to hold a clear impression of the murder instrument-- tell me, do you think a woman with rather limited strength could inflict so severe a blow as to cause such a wound? Well, that may be a little outside the area of my competency to judge.
However, l'd say it was possible, yes.
Would you explain to me and to this Court what contrecoup lacerations are? When the head is struck on one side, contrecoup lacerations are those which appear on the opposite side of the brain, directly across from the area of impact and fracture.
What causes them? Oscillation-- that is, the vibrating movement of the brain inside the skull.
The brain, you see, is suspended, as it were, in fluid, and contrecoup is, well, something in the nature of a backlash.
Now, this backlash, this oscillation occurs only-- only, Doctor-- when the head is in motion, or is free to move at the moment of impact.
- Isn't that so? - Naturally.
lf the head were not in motion, if it were immobile, then-- Doctor Lieberson, were there contrecoup lacerations on the right side of decedent's brain? Yes, there were.
ls it your considered professional opinion, Doctor, that the decedent's head was in contact with the floor and immobile when the fatal blow was struck? With contrecoup lacerations? No.
No, the head could not have been on the floor at the time the blow was struck.
lt was about four, five minutes after T when l pulled her away from the engine room.
After the explosion, did you observe the defendant, Linda Blake's, movements? Yeah.
She got into a car, drove om toward Vista Haven Road where Floyd Grant lived.
Mr.
Drake, you heard the explosion and saw the resulting fire at a distance, of course.
At what time would you estimate that to be? T:05.
Would you tell us, then, when you and Mr.
Mason arrived at the decedent's home and exactly what you saw there? We arrived at the house T:25.
The front door was open.
As we reached it, we heard a woman screaming inside the house.
The woman was the defendant, Linda Blake.
As we came into the room, she was holding the walking stick in her left hand.
You've got to understand what it was like, what l've had to take all these years.
l'd had it, more than l could stomach! So that night, after l got his call, l l decided to kill Floyd Grant.
How? With a gun, the gun my mother kept in her strongbox.
Go on.
l drove to his place, parked on the street behind the house, tried to get in the back door, but it was locked.
l started around the front just as the defendant, Miss Linda Blake, came to the house.
- l hid.
- Where? Across the street, behind some trees.
After a while, the door opened and she came out.
Floyd was at the door.
l could hear him telling her to be at the engine room at T:OO, T:OO sharp, the same time he'd told me to be at the engine room.
When Floyd Grant called you, Mr.
Lambert, he said to be at the engine room at T:OO? Yes, but not to meet Miss Blake.
He said Joe-- Joe Italiano-- would meet me there to explain about an ammonia leak trouble we'd been having.
But after that, after l saw Joe, he wanted to see me back at his house to discuss a partnership in Ladera Farms.
After Miss Blake left, what did you do then? Did you cross the street? Did you attempt to get into the house? No, l was afraid.
l wasn't man enough to do it.
l-- l just sat on the ground, under those trees, shivering with fear, hoping he'd come outside, hoping l'd have the strength, the will to aim my gun and shoot him.
But Floyd Grant did not come out of the house.
No.
After a while, she-- Linda Blake-- she came back and went into the house.
A few minutes after that, the two of them-- Mr.
Mason and Mr.
Drake-- they came.
l heard her scream, and the two of them ran into the house.
From the time Linda Blake left the house until Linda Blake returned, who else besides Linda Blake went into that house? No one, absolutely no one.
Yes, l was Addison Blake's secretary for quite a few years.
That T,500 acres he owned-- it was considerably more than he needed for grazing a small dairy herd.
Did he use the land for any other purpose? He used it for hunting and fishing.
- Did he go alone? - Most of the time.
On a few occasions, he took Floyd Grant with him.
Grant worked for him in the dairy.
So did many other men.
So why just Floyd Grant on those trips? Well, Grant had some training in chemistry and geology, and Mr.
Blake was a bug on prospecting and thought Floyd might be useful.
Wasn't there a newspaper story some years ago to the emect that Addison Blake was in the belief that he discovered gold on that land? Yes, he was very excited until he found out it would cost him ten times as much to get the gold out of the ground than he could get for it.
Mrs.
Lambert, did you believe it was necessary that Floyd Grant give your husband an alibi for the killing of Addison Blake? l know my husband.
Drunk or sober, he could never kill.
Drunk or sober does he believe himself innocent? l don't know.
Does his mother? Mr.
Lambert, referring to your earlier testimony concerning Floyd Grant, exactly what was it you had to take all those years? What was it you could no longer stomach so that you were driven to the point of contemplating murder? Floyd Grant's arrogance, his humiliating treatment of me, my wife, my mother, the way he accepted and never denied what everybody thought.
You're referring to the widespread belief in Ladera that without Floyd Grant's so-called alibi, you might have been accused of the murder of Addison Blake seven years ago? Yes.
Exactly what was it you resented, Mr.
Lambert-- the behavior of the man who gave you that alibi or the fact that you needed the alibi? l-- l don't know what you mean.
l mean did you kill Addison Blake? Your Honor, l request that the witness be advised of his privilege against self-incrimination.
Mr.
Lambert, you need not answer that question if you feel the answer might tend to incriminate you.
l'll answer, Your Honor.
l was drunk, drunk to the point of oblivion, the day Addison Blake was killed.
l honestly don't know whether l killed him.
- Are you still drinking? - Yes.
Had you been drinking the day Floyd Grant was killed? Yes.
You testified under oath that nobody entered that house from the time the defendant left until the defendant returned.
Mr.
Lambert, during that time, there was someone there who could have entered the house.
What? Who? The one person who admittedly went there to kill Floyd Grant.
You did go there to kill him, did you not? Yes, but l-- Did you intend, then, to surrender yourself? l don't know-- No, l wanted to get away.
lt occurred to you, did it not, that you could cover up for yourself by blaming your crime on the defendant? l had a revolver, not a club.
l couldn't have killed him! No? l have no further questions at this time.
Mr.
Lambert, you're excused.
Mr.
Taylor, call your ne_ witness.
Your Honor, the State feels it has presented a prima facie case and moves that the defendant be bound over for trial in Superior Court.
Mr.
Mason, before l rule on this motion, is it your intention to present a defense at this preliminary hearing? Yes, Your Honor.
We call as our first defense witness Mrs.
Sylvia Lambert.
Mrs.
Lambert, the gun your son was going to use to kill Floyd Grant-- was it his? No.
It was registered in my name.
According to the police report, the gun was kept in your personal strongbox? Yes, inside the safe.
Did you have the only key to that strongbox? No, my son had one, too.
You were served with a subpoena duces tecum, ordering you not only to appear in this court but specifically instructing you to bring with you to this court that metal strongbox.
- Do you have it? - Yes.
Mrs.
Lambert, beside the gun, what else is kept inside this strongbox? ltems of value, my own private papers.
Would you open it, please? May l have those keys, please? I Do l need another court order Mrs.
Lambert? This is a key to what, Mrs.
Lambert? The front door of my house.
And this? My garage door.
And this key? My automobile.
Mrs.
Lambert, what lock does this key open? The back door of Floyd Grant's house.
You were paying blackmail to Floyd Grant? Yes.
Your usual procedure was to visit him at his house, just as you used your key to go in that back door - the night Floyd Grant was murdered? - Yes.
A few moments ago, you heard the judge advise your son of his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.
l remind you that you may invoke the same privilege after l ask you this ne_ question.
Did you kill Floyd Grant? l refuse to answer.
Mrs.
Lambert, Ladera Farms holds a lease on T,500 acres of land purchased at the escheat sale five years ago by the Ganado Land Company from the estate of Addison Blake.
When does that lease expire? ln a few more months, l believe.
This is a certified copy of a credit report on the Ganado Land Company.
Would you read the name of the sole owner, please, aside from two dummy stockholders.
The one and only real stockholder of the Ganado Land Company.
Mister Floyd Grant.
Ne_ is a copy of an out-of-state company's mineral appraisal of those T,500 acres, mailed to Addison Blake one week before he was killed.
That land contained a potential fortune.
But a fortune in what? Would you read it to the Court? Oil.
Are you aware that the original of this mineral report was never found among Addison Blake's emects? No.
l didn't know that.
Then you couldn't be aware of the fact that Floyd Grant somehow got hold of this report before Blake saw it, that he also got the information that Addison Blake had no will and no heirs, that on his death his property would escheat to the State.
Mrs.
Lambert, would you have this Court believe that you didn't know Floyd Grant wasn't giving your son an alibi, that he was giving himself an alibi? That loathsome lock and key! All the years he made me Iet myself in the back way, crawling to him, humiliating and degrading myself.
So you drove to the street behind Floyd Grant's house, parked beside your son's car, and used this key to let yourself in the back door? Yes.
Now, your son used his car to drive to the dairy.
Your daughter-in-law used your car to search in the downtown bars for your son.
Tell me, Mrs.
Lambert, with only two cars at your house, which car did you use? For five years Sylvia Lambert paid blackmail to protect her son from the consequences of a crime he did not commit.
To protect you.
Must she now sumer suspicion for a crime she did not commit? As Addison Blake's secretary, wasn't it you who gave Floyd Grant the original of the mineral report? You who told him that Addison Blake was without a will or heirs? Yes.
-Why? l was engaged to marry Charles Lambert.
Floyd threatened to-- to tell him that-- That you, too, once had a key exactly like this one-- a key to the back door of Floyd Grant's house? Yes.
When you went searching for your husband and located Joe Italiano in that bar when Joe told you that he never had an appointment to meet your husband that night, what did you do? l drove to Floyd's and parked on the street behind his house, ne_ to Charlie's car, and -- While your husband watched in front, it was you, not Sylvia, who unlocked and went in the back door.
Please, Mr.
Mason, l would never have Iet them convict Miss Blake, never.
When you recognized this key, you must have realized that your mother-in-law was paying blackmail.
ls that why you went into Grant's house? To confront him with that knowledge? l opened the door and walked through the hallway, and he was just standing there.
He must have thought l was coming back to start over again.
When l pushed him away, he became abusive and struck me.
l fell against the rack with the walking sticks and-- Mrs.
Lambert, just one more question.
When was it that you heard the explosion? Just as l grabbed hold of the stick.
Floyd was laughing.
Charlie-- Charlie, it was the explosion, don't you understand? He said you were dead, that he sent you into that explosion so that he and l could-- He reached for me, and l hit him-- l hit him-- l hit him! l'm sure the sale of that T,500 acres will be vacated and the property returned to you, Linda.
The Civil Code refers to the presumption of a purchaser in good faith.
Grant made sure that the real appraisal of the property never showed up.
He rigged up a phony appraisal and used that dummy Ganado company to buy the land cheap.
Planning to sit on it for five years until the escheat became permanent and then presto-- oil happens to be discovered.
Mr.
Mason, what about the dairy? That sale was in good faith and was legal in every sense of the word.
So was the purchase of my newspaper.
l've already checked that with Mr.
Mason.
Mr.
Clay Elliot, you sound as though you thought l had designs on your paper.
l sort of hoped you did-- not right now, of course, but eventually, along with designs on me.
Mr.
Mason, would you explain the Community Property Law to Miss Blake?