This is a document from RealityStudio’s collection of primary source documents relating to the death of William S. Burroughs’ wife Joan Vollmer Burroughs. This clipping comes from an unknown newspaper, probably published on 10 September 1951.
Sewar [sic] Wants to Mock the Authorities
He intends to uphold the alibi that his Defender has prepared for him
The American murderer William Sewar [sic] Burroughs has given a new version of the crime he committed on the calle de Monterrey 122, apartment 10, when he killed his spouse last Thursday.
The accused Burroughs, grandson of the millionaire of the same name, inventor of several adding machines, testifying yesterday before the Tenth Criminal Judge, presented a new version of events which contradicts previous statements. He claimed that the bullet that killed his wife discharged itself when he was checking the gun to see if it was loaded.
As was reported, William at first stated that he had tried to break a glass that he had placed on his wife’s head. Due to the intoxicated state in which he attempted the shooting, he did not hit the target and instead hit the head of the victim.
Another version alleged that the bullet was fired when the weapon was taken out of a suitcase. Yet another version was that the pistol fell and hit a table, causing it to fire.
On The Advice Of His Defense Lawyer
The series of contradictory statements issued by the accused is said to be due to the advice of his defense lawyer, Bernabé Jurado, who is certain that the latest version will give enough material for his client to attain bail. There was the risk that ballistics experts could have argued that the trajectory of the bullet contradicted the previous versions.
However, the judge in charge thinks differently. He expressed the opinion that he will deny the defendant bail owing to irreconcilable contradictions. Also he was made aware that a year ago the couple was going to divorce because of continuous arguments and the drunkenness to which the husband had succumbed.
The lawyer Jurado offered to present witnesses to justify his defense next Monday, saying that his client is innocent and that the death of Joan V. Burroughs was an unfortunate accident.
Before the judge, Eduardo Urzaiz Jiménez, the agent of the attached Public Ministry, Reçalio Barriga Rivas, and the official translator of the Superior Court, professor Máxime V. Mawe, the accused began by declaring that his father is named Mortimer and his mother Laura Lee.
He then said that he arrived in Mexico as a tourist three days before the death of his wife, who had arrived ahead of him. He also claimed that on the afternoon of the tragedy he had visited his friend Lewis Marker, who was in the company of another friend, named Edward Woods — and here he contradicted himself, since previously he had declared that he had gone to Robert Heally’s house, where the tragedy occurred — and they were drinking a lot of gin.
Burroughs said he noticed that there was a pistol on the table — he does not explain how the weapon came to this place, since it was his property — took it in his hands and without realizing how, the gun discharged. The bullet struck the forehead of his wife, who was sitting in front of him, when he was checking to see if the gun was loaded. (Previously he said the gun had fallen and hit the edge of the table.)
In statements made in writing to reporters the day before, he said he did not remember how he had fired the gun, explaining that it happened when he tried to show it to his friend, who wanted to buy it.
He added that his wife received all kinds of considerations on his part, because about two years ago she had an outbreak of poliomyelitis.
Tomorrow the fate of the accused will be decided. When seventy-two hours has elapsed, the judge is obliged to issue an order of formal imprisonment or to declare freedom for lack of evidence.
Summons have also been issued to Mr. Louis Marker and Mr. Edward Woods so that they can present themselves to testify after ten o’clock.