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Vail's bond set at $500,000

Last Modified: Saturday, December 14, 2013 7:15 PM

By Johnathan Manning

A judge in state district court set a $500,000 bond for a man accused of killing his wife in 1962.

William Felix Vail, 74, was being held without bond in the Calcasieu Correctional Center while awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge related to the death of his wife, 22-year-old Mary Horton Vail.

Vail is accused of killing his wife in 1962. He claims she drowned while they were running trotlines on the Calcasieu River, where her body was discovered. Vail is also believed to have been the last person to see two other women alive — his girlfriend, Sharon Hensley, and his wife, Annette Craver Vail.

The hearing Friday morning also revolved around what evidence is admissible.

Defense attorney Ben Cormier and prosecutor Hugo Holland agreed a bond should be set for Vail, but differed on the amount.

Cormier asked for a $60,000 bond — in the range Vail can afford, he said — arguing that some evidence had just been ruled admissible, including the only known police report from 1962.

Cormier said it would be “punishment” for Vail to be held on evidence that had just been ruled inadmissible.

All the prosecution has, Cormier said, is the testimony of Ike Abshire, the testimony of Wesley Turnage and the testimony of current coroner Terry Welke, who recently ruled the death a homicide.

Holland said there isn’t case law about using inadmissible evidence to decide bond, but did cite State v. Turner, which said inadmissible evidence can be used in fashioning a sentence.

Holland asked for a $500,000 bond, referring to Vail’s propensity to live a “vagabond lifestyle.” Vail spent several years living in grape fields in California, Holland said. The house in Texas in which he was living before he was arrested didn’t have a shower; Vail would shower using a garden hose, Holland said.

“This is a man that can pretty much live anywhere on almost nothing,” Holland said.

Wyatt granted defense requests to exclude any testimony involving allegations that Vail threw his son against the wall; Vail’s conviction for drug possession and child neglect in California in the 1970s; and any allegations that Vail may have been involved in the drowning death of another woman.

Holland did not contest that the evidence and testimony be excluded, saying the information would not likely be admissible in the state’s case.

Wyatt also granted Cormier’s request to exclude the only known police report, which was in the possession of Ike Abshire, a friend and former landlord of the Vails who was present when Mary Vail was pulled from the river. Abshire has said it was given to him by law enforcement officers after her death.

Holland did not object, saying, “I can’t fathom any circumstances where that would be admissible.”

Holland said the state has not yet decided whether to object to two other pieces of evidence being found inadmissible — testimony that Vail allegedly slapped his wife at a college party and an alleged assault of another woman.

Cormier presented media reports about the case to Wyatt as part of his request for a change of venue. Wyatt is expected to take up the change of venue, as well as other matters related to the case, on Jan. 9.

Posted By: E. C. Roy On: 4/14/2014

Title: Evidence

Paragraphs 6 and 7 seem contradictory; one has to assume that the "admissable" in #6 was intended to read "inadmissable". In view of the vast preponderance of evidence against Mr Vail, it would be a travesty of justice should all evidence, even that called "circumstantial", be ruled inadmissable because all these pieces together are what complete the puzzle! It appears that anyone knowing the full story would have the greatest difficulty in finding this man innocent.

Posted By: TexCajun On: 12/13/2013

Title: Wedding vows

At least he was true to his word when he said, "till death do us part."

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