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Raymond Bernard Finch and Carole Tregoff Trials: 1960 & 1961

Dying Words

Rumors that the defense had a surprise in store guaranteed a packed courtroom when Finch took the stand. The doctor didn't disappoint. He described how his wife had pulled a gun on him. Regrettably, in his efforts to take the gun away, he had been forced to club her with it, inflicting two skull fractures. At that moment, the maid Lindholm had entered the garage. Finch's misconstrued attempts to placate the maid's obvious distress—already referred to—gave Barbara Finch the chance to snatch up the gun and take off. Finch went in pursuit. Some way up the drive he saw Barbara Finch taking dead aim at Tregoff with the pistol. A further struggle ensued. Finch grabbed the gun. Barbara Finch began running again. Inexplicably, as Finch attempted to toss the gun away, it went off, neatly drilling his fleeing wife between the shoulder blades. Claiming ignorance of this fact, Finch ran across to his prone wife.

"What happened, Barb?" he cried. "Where are you hurt?"

"Shot … in … chest," she gasped.

"Don't move a thing.… I've got to get an ambulance for you and get you to [the] hospital."

Barbara held up a restraining hand. "Wait.… I'm sorry, I should have listened."

"Barb, don't talk about it now. I've got to get you to [the] hospital."

"Don't leave me. Take care of the kids."

As Finch described feeling for a pulse and finding none, his voice broke: "She was dead." He wiped away a tear. Sobs could also be heard in the public gallery. Others preferred to concentrate on the likelihood of a murder victim actually apologizing for being killed, and found the story a little thin, to say the least.

Under cross-examination the doctor regained his normal buoyancy. When prosecutor Whichello, referring to numerous affairs with other women before Carole Tregoff, asked him: "Did you tell these women that you loved them?" the doctor responded jauntily: "I think under the circumstances that would be routine."

Seven days on the stand did little to undermine Finch. His story sounded implausible, but he stuck to it and yielded nothing to the prosecution.

They made more headway against Tregoff, whose own account of events bordered on the fantastic. She told of watching the scene unfold, then cowering for five or six hours behind some bougainvillea plants, paralyzed with fear, while police turned the house upside down. Later, she had driven back to Las Vegas, alone. Allegedly, her first knowledge of Barbara Finch's death came via the car radio, information which she passed on to Finch himself. He reportedly shrugged the news off and Tregoff went to work.

Prosecutor Clifford Crail succeeded in making Tregoff look very bad, intent only on saving herself at the expense of Finch. (Since their arrest, Tregoff had spurned all of Finch's letters and advances.) Crail highlighted her leading role in the solicitation of Cody, also her conflicting stories of why the couple had gone to Lark Hill Drive that night. Originally, Tregoff told police that the intention was to talk Barbara Finch out of divorce proceedings. On the stand that evolved into an attempt to convince her to obtain a "quickie" Nevada divorce.

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