1 minute read

Levi Weeks Trial: 1800

Weeks Indicted For Murder

A few days after Elma Sands vanished, a boy drawing water from the Manhattan Well found the muff she had been wearing. But not until nearly a week after this, inexplicably, did Elias Ring and some others sound the well with poles and find Sands's body. She had apparently been beaten savagely before being thrown, dead or alive, into the well. The body was put on public display for a few days, not only in the Ringses' boarding house, but in the street in front of it, which stirred up public outrage at what had happened to Sands. Within a week or so of the body's discovery, a grand jury indicted Weeks for the murder of Elma Sands.

Weeks promptly lined up some of the city's, and the nation's, best legal talent to defend him. His three attorneys were Brockholst Livingston, whom Thomas Jefferson would later appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court; Alexander Hamilton, former Secretary of the Treasury and New York's Federalist leader; and Aaron Burr, former U.S. senator and future vice president. Hamilton and Burr were especially strong talents, being without question the best attorneys anywhere in the state. Despite their strong political and personal rivalries—Burr would kill Hamilton in a famous duel four years later—the two men often worked together. Their talents did not come cheaply, though; possibly Ezra Weeks helped pay for their services. Both Hamilton and Burr had reputations for womanizing, and both of their names were linked with stories of sexual scandal. Perhaps these facts had something to do with their decisions to take Levi Weeks's case.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832Levi Weeks Trial: 1800 - A Less Than Discreet Affair, Weeks Indicted For Murder, A Two-day Trial