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Carolyn Warmus Trials: 1991 & 1992 - Solomon Tells Of Unusual Marriage, Vigorous Defense Launched, Second Trial Results In Conviction

january james murder defendant

Defendant: Carolyn Warmus
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: First trial: David L. Lewis; second trial: William I. Aronwald
Chief Prosecutors: Douglas J. Fitzmorris and James A. McCarty
Judge: John Carey
Place: White Plains, New York
Dates of Trials: First Trial: January 14—
April 27, 1991; second trial: January 22-May 27, 1992
Verdicts: First trial: mistrial; second trial: guilty
Sentence: 25 years to life

SIGNIFICANCE: Obsession, deadly and destructive, was never more chillingly illustrated than in this trial resulting from one woman's determination to have the man she craved at any cost.

For several weeks following the January 15. 1989 shooting of Betty Jeanne Solomon in her Westchester County, New York home, husband Solomon was the chief suspect. But when police learned that Solomon's longtime lover, Carolyn Warmus, had been more relentless than ever in her pursuit of the reluctant widower, official attention turned toward this 27-year-old Manhattan schoolteacher. Their investigation revealed a woman with a turbulent history of romantic fixations, most often with unavailable men. But there was other evidence, too, enough to warrant a murder indictment against Warmus. Guaranteed immunity from prosecution, Solomon agreed to testify against his former lover when her trial began January 14, 1991.

In his opening statement, chief prosecutor James A. McCarty described Warmus as driven by a "consuming passion to possess" Solomon. McCarty conceded the lack of any single piece of proof that would on its own prove Warmus guilty, but "like pieces of a puzzle," he said, circumstantial evidence would "reveal a clear picture of the killer … Carolyn Warmus."

David L. Lewis, lawyer for the defendant, countered that his client was the victim of a "deliberate, malicious" frame-up, reminding the jury that "love and passion are not on trial here, this is a trial about murder."

The first witness to link Warmus to a potential murder weapon was private investigator James A. Russo. In the fall of 1988, Warmus had come to him, he said, seeking protection from Betty Jeanne Solomon, who was jealous about the defendant's affair with her husband. Russo had suggested a bodyguard. "Her answer was no," he said. "I pushed her to say exactly what she wanted. She said a 'machine gun and silencer,' I said, 'We're not arms dealers.'"

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