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Raymond Bernard Finch and Carole Tregoff Trials: 1960 & 1961

Fatal Struggle

Their trial began at the Los Angeles County Courthouse on January 4, 1960. Prosecutor Fred Whichello called his first witness, Marie Anne Lindholm, the Finch maid. She told of running to the garage after hearing Barbara Finch scream and seeing Dr. Finch, gun in hand, standing over his semiconscious wife. Finch had then banged Lindholm's head against the garage wall, apparently in an effort to stun her. He'd ordered both women into the car but Barbara Finch had broken free and run. The doctor gave chase. Moments later Lindholm heard a shot, whereupon she ran to the house and called the police.

Equally damaging were Lindholm's allegations that Finch had regularly abused and threatened his wife. Over strenuous defense objections, a letter Lindholm had written to her mother in Sweden before the murder was admitted into evidence. In it she described a beating that Finch had given Barbara Finch, and also his oft-repeated threats that he had hired "someone in Las Vegas" to kill her.

When Cody took the stand, defense lawyers must have felt confident of demolishing his testimony. If so, it was confidence misplaced. Cody's cheerful admissions to just about every form of reprehensible conduct imaginable—he had been a thief, a sponger, and an occasional swindler—gave his testimony a curious verisimilitude, an honesty, that the defense could never quite shake. Attorney Grant Cooper tried hard but it was useless:

Question: What did you do?

Answer: I loafed.

Question: How did you support yourself?

Answer: By my wit.

Question: (Later in reference to one of Cody's girlfriends): Did she support you?

Answer: Yes.

Defense attorney Rexford Egan fared no better:

Question: Would you lie for money?

Answer: (After a long, thoughtful pause) It looks like I have.

Cody also told the court of a homily that he had delivered to Finch in an effort to dissuade him from murder:

Killing your wife for money alone isn't worth it.… Let her have every penny.… Take Carole … up on a mountaintop and live off the wild. If the girl loves you, she's going to stick with you.

But by far the deadliest thing that Cody had to say detailed a conversation with Carole Tregoff, in which she had snapped: "Jack, you can back out. But if you don't kill her, the doctor will; and if he doesn't, I will."

When the prosecution rested, things looked bleak indeed for the doctor and the redhead.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Raymond Bernard Finch and Carole Tregoff Trials: 1960 1961 - Fatal Struggle, Dying Words, Stunning Verdict