Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Perry March

"This Is a Case About Deceit."

For Perry March's next trial, which came just two months after his conviction in the conspiracy to kill his in-laws, Judge Steve Dozier granted the defense's request for a change of venue. March's attorneys argued that news coverage of the case had saturated the Nashville area over the years and tainted any potential jury pool. March's trial for the murder of his wife started in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in early August 2006. The charges included second-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.

In his opening statement, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tom Thurman said, "This is a case about... deceit" and characterized March's long flight from justice as "a ten year odyssey."

Defense attorney William Massey pointed out to the jury that the prosecution was attempting to try a murder case without a body. "They don't have evidence," he said, "because it doesn't exist. There is no direct proof that Perry March killed anyone." He went on to outline an alternate theory as to what had happened to Janet March. Massey claimed to have received an anonymous letter from a man who said he was involved with Janet and that she had come to him the night she disappeared. The man wrote that she had overdosed on sleeping pills and alcohol while she was with him, and he then disposed of her body. County investigators attempted to locate Janet's alleged companion but could not find any such man.

The jury of six men and six women heard testimony from Leigh Reames the woman who had sued March for sending her sexually explicit letters. She testified that they had settled out of court, and he had agreed to pay her $24,000 in installments over a four-year period. The prosecution contended that when Janet March had learned of the letters and the settlement, she threatened to divorce her husband. March flew into a rage, according to the prosecution, a rage that had fatal consequences.

The state called witnesses who testified that they had seen a rolled-up rug in the Marchs' house after Janet's disappearance. An FBI analyst then testified that fibers found in March's Jeep were consistent with such a rug.

The tape recordings of March's conversations with would-be hitman Russell Farris were played for the jury. They learned the details of March's plot to murder his in-laws and heard him tell Farris that his chances of beating the rap in his upcoming murder trial would go from 40 to 90 percent if the Levines were out of the picture.

Nashville Detective Pat Postiglione testified that when March was extradited to Nashville in August 2005, March talked to him about making a plea bargain in exchange for admitting his guilt if he could get "no more than seven years" and avoid the maximum sentence for murder. Postiglione said that on their flight from Los Angeles, March asked him how much evidence had been assembled against him. The detective believed that March had been trying to gauge his chances in court.

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