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Felix Vail retains private attorney for murder trial

Last Modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 8:57 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

William Felix Vail will no longer be represented by the Public Defenders Office.

Private attorney Ben Cormier confirmed he enrolled as Vail’s lawyer on Thursday.

Vail, 74, accused of second-degree murder in a 50-year-old case, was previously represented by public defender Andrew Casanave.

The court was working to determine whether Vail had enough money to pay for his own defense.

Cormier said Vail had to retain a private attorney.

Judge Robert Wyatt on Aug. 15 ordered $20,000 of Vail’s cash be turned over to the court to be used for expert witnesses.

Cormier said he has no plans to ask the court to move that money.

According to court testimony, Vail also has money in an Oklahoma bank, receives $1,000 a month from the sale of a house in Oklahoma City and owns property in Canyon Lake, Texas.

Authorities have accused Vail of killing his wife, Mary Horton Vail, in 1962. Felix claimed she drowned while they were running trotlines on the Calcasieu River.

Felix Vail was arrested and spent three days in jail in 1962, but the case was ruled an accidental drowning and a grand jury could not make a decision whether to indict him.

A Mississippi journalist brought new attention to the case when he wrote about Felix Vail’s involvement with Mary and two missing women — girlfriend Sharon Hensley, who was reported missing in 1973, and second wife Annette Craver Vail, who was reported missing in 1984. Hensley and Craver Vail have never been found.

The case was re-examined by authorities and when Calcasieu coroner Terry Welke ruled the death a homicide. Vail was arrested in May.

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