Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- The Carpet, the Pillowcase, the Mask, and Everything

This is the summary of the 15th day of the Mendel Beilis trial, which occurred on 9 October, 1913 on the Julian calendar, 22 October, 1913 on the Gregorian calendar.

This day occupies pages 587 through 649 of Volume I, part 1, of the transcript.

See the translation of the transcript for day 15. 

I’m going to take things out of order and point out that Grigorevich-Barsky makes an important observation in the last seconds of the session. Neither Ekaterina nor her sister Ksenya has said anything that brought up Beilis’ name.  The prosecution has not attempted to connect anything they said to Beilis.  None of their testimony is relevant to the charges against Beilis.  It all points directly at Vera Cheberyak as involved in the murder, through the “papers with punctures” used only in her apartment for a game of “Post Office” involving her gang, and the bit of pillowcase that turned up in the pocket of Andrey’s jacket -- something no murderer would do deliberately.  Nobody even claimed this was planted evidence and then said that Beilis planted it.  No visiting association has been established which would allow him to bring a gag to her and even if he had, he would have had to destroy it. 

The government theory can’t get along without the gag, because it is part of Pranaitis’ specifications for a ritual murder, and he is the main scriptural expert for the government.  They have no other candidate for the gag – not Andrey’s shirt, the blood on which proves he was wearing it during the attack, and no rags found on the Zaitsev factory grounds.  Both Ekaterina and Ksenya know about Vera having a fancy pillowcase with a proshva on it, and the judge asks a question which shows that he knows that the bloody rag found in the pocket of Andrey’s jacket was part of a fancy pillowcase with a proshva on it.  The prosecution has established no visiting relationship that would allow Beilis to bring Vera a rag to use to gag Andrey and then get it back to destroy.  All the testimony today and tomorrow points at Vera as the murderer, not Beilis.

The defense took their chances putting ditsy Ekaterina on the stand, but it paid off because it not only threatened the government theory, it rattled Vera.  See her statements later in the day where she mixes up material facts about the case.  Nobody else who has testified since day 8 has rattled Vera.  Unreliable as Ekaterina’s testimony is, she knew something that Vera was afraid she would say.

The prosecution is fascinated by her.  When she tells about a dream of Andrey’s body in a carpet, they take it seriously to all appearances.  But her timing for this dream is all wrong.  She testifies that she only heard about the carpet in association with Andrey’s body from Adele Ravich in August, 1911, but she claims a) that she had the dream when it was “already cold”; b) that this was before Vera sold the carpet, which happened before the eviction; c)  that Vera told her not to tell Polishchuk about it or he would never leave her alone, and that relates to summer 1911; d)  that she had the dream before Adele told her the story.  We are left with winter 1910/1911 as the timing for the dream, when Polishchuk had not come into contact with Vera, as far as we know.  But as I said, the prosecution seems to take this evidence seriously.

Ekaterina proves that Krasovsky’s masquerade of Luka Prikhodko was a total screw-up.  The police had her identify men in some photos, and the three murderers were among them.  Rudzinsky and Singaevsky did not have beards in the photos.  Boldyrev asks her, did any of them have a beard at that time?  Elizaveta says no.  The beardless man seen by Yashchenko could have been either Singaevsky or Rudzinsky, both of whom had dark hair.  Krasovsky had his hands on Rudzinsky in July 1911 but never brought Yashchenko in to try and identify him.

Two parts of Krasovsky’s testimony on this date demonstrate the kind of chaos surrounding the case.  First, Krasovsky was not at all responsible for Beilis’ arrest, but the prosecution tries to make him responsible for a search conducted on 23 July.  This search was performed by the security division at Kulyabko’s orders, in the same way as the arrest happened on Kulyabko’s orders, which came directly from Chaplinsky.   Krasovsky was there, put himself at Kulyabko’s disposition, and was basically told to stand aside.

The other part shows that Vera was released on 5 August, 1911, but didn’t go home.  We don’t know what time of day she was released or where she went, but the police laid hands on her again the very next day.  This time, Chaplinsky intervened.  He not only ordered her to be released, he forbade anybody to arrest her again.  Vera complained about this at trial, calling it an illegal arrest.  It was particularly harassing for her because precisely on the 6th of August, her landlord evicted her, despite Zhenya’s illness.  She finally got out for good on August 7, went to the hospital, took Zhenya out, and took him to her new apartment where he died 24 hours later.

There is a statement in the investigator’s record which is a misquote of Brazul or a misquote of Margolin or a misquote of Krasovsky, saying what Brazul and Margolin have already denied and what Krasovsky doesn’t remember telling the investigator.  The misquote has the earmarks of Vygranov feeding misquotes of Shakhovsky’s deposition to Petrov.  It is not outside the realm of possibility that Vygranov had at least this part of this deposition faked and forged Krasovsky’s signature the same as on the Shakhovskys’ depositions. 

Judge:  Fyodor Boldyrev

            Criminal Prosecutor, Oscar Vipper
            Civil Prosecutor Georgy Zamyslovsky
            Private Civil Prosecutor Aleksey Shmakov

            Oscar Gruzenberg
Nikolay Karabchevsky
Dmitry Grigorevich-Barsky
Alexandr Zarudny
Vasily Maklakov

Nikolay Aleksandrovich Krasovsky
Detective who ran 1911 official investigation
Ekaterina Afanasievna Dyakon
Vera’s friend
Pins pillowcase gag rag on Vera as owner, identifies murderers from photos
Ksenya Afanasievna Dyakon
Ekaterina’s sister
Pins pillowcase gag rag on Vera as owner, identified murderers from photos


© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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