Sunday, August 17, 2014

Statement Analysis: Lizzie Borden Part Two



We saw in part one that the subject (Lizzie Borden) did an extraordinary job of keeping her answers short and simple.  This suggests that she was well coached on how to limit the prosecution from obtaining information from her.  Please review  part one in order to be familiar with the flow and pace of the interview.  The prosecution, thus far, has not 'pounced' on the subject.
Q. Did he have a marriage settlement with your stepmother that you know of?
A. I never knew of any.


This is a deviation from her "no, sir" responses.  Since 
"no, sir" is the norm, anything from the norm should be noted for possible follow up.  The word "never" is not a good substitute for "did not."

Q. Had you heard anything of his proposing to make a will?

A. No sir.


Q. Do you know of anybody that your father was on bad terms with?

A. There was a man that came there that he had trouble with. I don't know who the man was.


Q. When?

A. I cannot locate the time exactly. It was within two weeks. That is, I don't know the date or day of the month.


To "locate" suggests that something was searched for.  This, for me, affirms that there was strong coaching by the defense attorney, which quite possibly included solid research. 

This was a murder trial, and an "unknown man" who was "on bad terms" can be what gives a distractible jury a reasonable doubt. 

Q. Tell all you saw and heard.


Strong question (in the affirmative) that not only allows the subject to begin her answer where she chooses, and allows her to freely choose her own words, it implores her that there is a volume of information he seeks, with the word "all" in use. 

It is impossible to tell "all."  

A truthful person should tell us what she saw, what she heard, what was said, and so on.  



A. I did not see anything. 


I heard the bell ring and father went to the door and let him in. I did not hear anything for some time except just the voices. Then I heard the man say, "I would like to have that place; I would like to have that store." Father said, "I am not willing to let your business go in there." And the man said, "I thought with your reputation for liking money, you would let your store for anything." Father said, "You are mistaken." Then they talked a while and then their voices were louder and I heard father order him out and went to the front door with him.

This is not a lengthy answer for the imperative that insisted upon "all" to be said, further indicating solid preparation. 

1.  "I did not see anything" is in the negative and it answers the question "What did you see?", therefore, the negative is not part of an open statement as much as it is a direct answer.  It is strong. 

She was asked what she saw and what she heard.  The prosecution knew something of this account before hand.  She has answered that she did not see anything and now for what she heard:

2.  "I heard the bell ring and father went to the door and let him in. "  She does not say that he went to the door "to" let him in, explaining why.  There is, in this response, a lack of sensitivity ,thus far, indicating no need to explain, but report.  Will she stay with the past tense, short description?

She does. 

She does not know the time, day nor date, but can recall what was said? 

One should consider:

The subject wants the jury to know what was said, but would prefer the jury to not know when this took place.  This may be to obscure the finding out of the identity of the man. 

The sentence structure, including the use of the word "order" and "with" indicate veracity. 



Q. What did he say?

A. He said he had stayed long enough and he would thank him to go.


Q. Did he say anything about coming again?

A. No sir.


Q. Did your father say anything about coming again, or did he?

A. No sir.


Q. Have you any idea who that was?

A. No sir. I think it was a man from out of town because he said he was going home to see his partner.


"No, sir" alone would have sufficed.  Yet, it is true that we all have "some idea" about most everything in life.  Here, she certain does have an idea and the idea is that they might not find out who he is because he is from out of town.  

This was important enough for the defense (or the subject, on her own, which I doubt) to add in this information, pushing the identity further away from the locals.  

I do not know but wonder if there was a regionalism at the time and in the culture where an out of towner would be suspected without cause. 


Q. Have you had any efforts made to find him?

A. We have had a detective; that is all I know.


Hence the word "locate"
Note "we" indicates plurality (defense team)


Q. You have not found him?

A. Not that I know of.


The avoidance of the common "no, sir" is noted here.  Finding him is likely not in the best interest of the subject and of the defense. 


Q. You can't give us any other idea about it?

A. Nothing but what I have told you.


Again, deviation fro "no, sir" is important.  

Q. Beside that, do you know of anybody that your father had bad feelings toward or who had bad feelings toward your father?


A. I know of one man who has not been friendly with him. They have not been friendly for years.


Q. Who?

A. Mr. Hiram C. Harrington.


Q. What relation is he to him?

A. He is my father's brother-in-law.


Q. Your mother's brother?

A. My father's only sister married Mr. Harrington.


This man is of no interest to the prosecutor, as they likely are aware of his alibi. 

Q. Anybody else that was on bad terms with your father or that your father was on bad terms with?

A. Not that I know of.


This is likely a truthful answer and better than "no, sir" because she would not have known of all possibles, unless she was thoroughly intimate with her father's business practices, which would be against what she has testified. 

This is likely truthful 


Q. You have no reason to suppose that the man you spoke of a week or two ago had ever seen your father before or has since?

A. No sir.


Q. Do you know of anybody that was on bad terms with your stepmother?

A. No sir.


Q. Or that your stepmother was on bad terms with?

A. No sir.


Q. Had your stepmother any property?

A. I don't know. Only that she had half the house that belonged to her father.


Q. Where was that?

A. On Fourth Street.


Q. Who lives in it?

A. Her half-sister.


Q. Any other property besides that that you know of?

A. I don't know.


Q. Did you ever know of any?

A. No sir.


Q. Did you understand that she was worth anything more than that?

A. I never knew.


Q. Did you ever have any trouble with your stepmother?

A. No sir.


Q. Have you within six months had any words with her?

A. No sir.


Q. Within a year?

A. No sir.


Q. Within two years?

A. I think not.


Q. When last that you know of?

A. About five years ago.


Q. What about?

A. Her stepsister, half-sister.


Q. What name?

A. Her name now is Mrs. George W. Whitehead.


Q. Nothing more than hard words?

A. No sir. They were not hard words. It was simply a difference of opinion.


Note she enters into his language.  He still is unable to find something to 'pounce' upon, that is, to explore or exploit a sensitivity.  


Q. You have been on pleasant terms with your stepmother since then?

A. Yes sir.


Q. Cordial?

A. It depends upon one's idea of cordiality perhaps.


Q. According to your idea of cordiality?

A. We were friendly; very friendly.


Here is a crack that the prosecutor needs to explore:  the relationship between the subject and her step mother, of whom she called, "Mrs. Borden" rather than any familiar term of endearment. 

Q. Cordial, according to your idea of cordiality?

A. Quite so.


He knows that this is sensitive.  "very" and "quite"
Remember:  the step mother came into her life at a young age where it would be considered a natural mercy to have a "mother" or "mama" (depending upon culture) to a girl without one.  Lizzie Borden knows that this is something that the prosecutor wants the jury to hear.  She beats him to it.  

Q. What do you mean by "quite so?"

A. Quite cordial. I do not mean the dearest of friends in the world, but very kindly feelings and pleasant. I do not know how to answer you any better than that.


Not only "cordial" but "quite" cordial.  Cordiality often refers to the way one speaks, rather than internal feelings. 
Note that "I do not mean" is in the negative, in an open statement (not as a result of a direct question), making it very important.  
"very" kindly has to do with "feelings" and pleasant. 

The reader should now be considering that the subject feels a need to persuade the audience of a good relationship, making the relationship suspect.  Here, the subject is quite skillful at beating the prosecutor to the issue of age: 

Q. You did not regard her as your mother?

A. Not exactly, no; although she came there when I was very young.


The subject not only appears well prepared, but of a good intellect.  She beat the prosecutor to the issue of age, yet the prosecutor will not let it go easily: 

Q. Were your relations toward her that of daughter and mother?

Notice that he did not say "mother and daughter" as most do, with the age and responsibility of the older first.  This is interesting, but also expected, since the target of his questioning is not the otter but the step daughter, herself. 

A. In some ways it was and in some it was not.


Q. In what ways was it?

A. I decline to answer.


The prosecutor has touched upon something here that I doubt Borden was coached into answering with a declination.  

Q. Why?
A. Because I don't know how to answer it.


The relationship between the subject and her step mother is now confirmed as "sensitive", just as the language indicated. 

Q. In what ways was it not?

A. I did not call her mother.


This would have been better offered by the subject, earlier, rather than as a result of declining to answer.  Note she uses only the pronoun "her" and avoids any names. This is, indeed, distancing language from the deceased, another reason why I believe that she is "off" the coaching lines, and on her own, beginning with the declination. 


Q. What name did she go by?


I would have put the onus upon the subject and not the not mother by asking, "What did you call her?  Instead, "go by" not only is passive, but it puts the responsibility for it upon the adult, not the child, instead of seeking to learn if the child, at a young age, had refused to embrace and call her mother. 

A. Mrs. Borden.


Q. When did you begin to call her Mrs. Borden?


He now targets age.  


A. I should think five or six years ago.


Q. Before that time you had called her mother?

A. Yes sir.


Q. What led to the change?

A. The affair with her step-sister.


Q. So that the affair was serious enough to have you change from calling her mother, do you mean?

A. I did not choose to call her mother.


As a child, she was instructed to call her "mother", which now shows her reluctance.  The prosecutor has now, at least, a topic of which he needs to chip away at, and see if he can uncover her animosity towards her step mother, of whom she stood accused of murder. 


Q. Have you ever called her mother since?

A. Yes, occasionally.


Q. To her face, I mean?

A. Yes.


Q. Often?

A. No sir.


Q. Seldom?

A. Seldom.


Rather than "yes, sir", she used his word. 


Q. Your usual address was Mrs. Borden?

A. Yes sir.


Q. Did your sister Emma call her mother?

A. She always called her Abby from the time she came into the family.


Q. Is your sister Emma older than you?

A. Yes sir.


Q. What is her age?

A. She is 10 years older than I am. She was somewhere about 14 when she came there.


Q. What was your stepmother's age?

A. I don't know. I asked her sister Saturday and she said 64. I told them 67. I did not know. I told as nearly as I knew. I did not know there was so much difference between her and my father.


Q. Why did you leave off calling her mother?

A. Because I wanted to.


Yes, but what happened that cause you to not want to call her "mother"?

Q. Is that all the reason you have to give me?


Poorly worded and a signal of surrender.  This should have been explored, including asking typical "mother-daughter" activities questions. 


A. I have not any other answer.


The answer is in the positive.  She has more information; much more.  The prosecution is not doing a good job, at this point, of getting to it and frustration may be evident in the next question: 


Q. Can't you give me any better reason than that?


A. I have not any reason to give except that I did not want to.


1.  Explore mother-daughter activities of the day
2.  Why didn't you participate in...?
3.  What did you participate in with your step mother?
4.  When did you first begin to feel negatively towards her?
and so on...

This is an opportunity to explore the possibly lethal relationship between them. 



Q. In what respects were the relations between you and her that of mother and daughter, besides not calling her mother?


He finally gets to it 

A. I don't know that any of the relations were changed. I had never been to her as a mother in many things. I always went to my sister because she was older and had the care of me after my mother died.


Why did your sister have care of you?
Who constructed that she should care for you?
Did your father intervene?
Did your step mother attempt to care for you?

Q. In what respects were the relations between you and her that of mother and daughter?


A. That is the same question you asked before. I can't answer you any better now than I did before.


Smart response.  This careful listening is within the subject, herself, and not something that can be coached on the fly.  


Q. You did not say before you could not answer, but that you declined to answer.


A. I decline to answer because I do not know what to say.


Q. That is the only reason?

A. Yes sir.


Q. You called your father, father?

A. Always.


Q. Were your father and mother happily united?

A. Why, I don't know but that they were.


"yes, sir" would have been better.  Not only is the relationship between the subject and her step mother sensitive, but so is the daughter's view of the relationship between father and step mother sensitive.  Note that we are analyzing the subject's words:

The subject's view of the marriage; not the marriage, itself. 


Q. Why do you hesitate?

A. Because I don't know but that they were and I am telling the truth as nearly as I know it.


"I am telling the truth" is strong.  She then added "as nearly as I know it" is an indication that there are other opinions about the marriage that she may not want to share.  This has a feel of putting one's head in the sand...deliberately so as not to know. 


Q. Do you mean me to understand that they were happy entirely or not?

A. So far as I know they were.


Q. Why did you hesitate then?

A. Because I did not know how to answer you any better than what came into my mind. I was trying to think if I was telling it as I should, that's all.


"That's all" indicates that there is more.  The subject has a lively intellect. 

Q. Do you have any difficulty in telling it as you should; any difficulty in answering my questions?


A. Some of your questions I have difficulty answering because I don't know just how you mean them.


Cleverly, she puts the responsibly of her delays in answering upon the prosecutor.  

Q. Did you ever know of any difficulty between her and your father?

A. No sir.


Q. Did he seem to be affectionate?

A. I think so.


Here is a weak assertion.  It may be that his signs of affection towards his wife bothered Lizzie. 

Q. As man and woman who are married ought to be?

A. So far as I have ever had any chance of judging.


He is on to another sensitive topic.  

Q. They were?

A. Yes.


Next up in part three, the prosecutor goes towards the dress that she wore the day of the murders, of which she later was reported to have burned it, as witnessed by her own sister. 

8 comments:

john said...

I maybe way of the mark here. For some reason, i get the feeling she may have had affections towards her Father, other than that of Father Daughter relationship. She seems very protective of him. She uses the pronoun "My" when refering to her Father, and the distancing "her" when refering to her Mum. Although as you state, this maybe due to the affair.

Buckley said...

If you mean romantic affections, I don't get that. But it's clear that while she may act pleasantly with (yes, with) her stepmother, her feelings are quite a different matter. So she may be jealous of her stepmothers relationship with her father, but I think that's quite common in "step" relationships without signaling romantic feelings, if that what you mean. In fact, I felt she conveys a distance from them both.

Anybody else dying for her to say "We were quite cordial until the day I cut her up with an axe."

My understanding is that this is an interrogation prior to trial; that she did not actually testify on her own behalf. So is it like a grand jury hearing? Or more like a police interview?

trustmeigetit said...

I think she felt the step mother would get a big chunk of her fathers money. He had already given one of his properties to her step mothers sister. Which I find odd myself.

Add in that at that time, Lizzie was a spinster and was unlikely to marry at that age....and being a woman, it's not like she had a career to fall back on. She was dependent on her dad's money.

I think there was a will and step mom was getting more that her share of assets.

She had to get rid if both in order to secure her own share of money and thus her future.

Also, right before the murder of step mom, the maid was outside washing windows and Lizzie came out the side door (which was stated she NEVER used) and asked the maid if she was outside and she said she was going to lock the door. That meant there was no way for anyone to enter the home since the front door was also locked from inside.

I am sure she did it.

Many say she would not have been able to clean up but forensic scientists have stated that the blood spatter would have been minimal.

Trigger said...

Am I understanding this?

Lizzie Borden stopped calling her step-mother "mother" because of a problem with the step-mother's sister when Lizzie was a little girl?

This sounds odd.

Lizzie wouldn't be the first daughter of a rich man, who had a mother who died, then had a step-mother move in, who intended on taking her father's possessions and depriving the man's natural child of any inheritance.

If Lizzie's father was ignorant of Lizzie's fear of her step-mother gaining control of her father's wealth and then depriving Lizzie of financial resources for daily life, then Lizzie had a motive for killing her parents.

The fear of unwanted poverty and public humiliation at the hands of a controling step-mother that you secretly loathed would motivate murder as a solution to the problem.

The only thing that bothers me is: Do women usually take an axe as the murder weapon of choice?

Why do something that takes so much physical strength and is so bloody and gruesome especially in the middle of the day?


Anonymous said...

I understood it as, she stopped calling her "mother" 5 or 6 years ago (from the time of the court hearing obviously lol). Yes, due to an issue with the step mother and step mothers sister. But it was 5/6 years prior, not when she was little. I do think it's weird that she stopped calling her "mother" because of an issue between step mother and step mothers sister. I wonder if she was forced, or at least made to feel that she HAD to call her "mother" when she was little. Was the issue at hand ever discussed during the trial? I'm very curious as to what the issue was, if it caused Lizzie to decide she didn't want to call her "mother" any longer. OR, did step mother actually not want to be called "mother" any longer? This is something that Lizzie doesn't elaborate on. Depending on what the issue was, I think she used it as an excuse to not have to call her "mother" any longer, and I also wonder if it's when she started to not like (idk how else to word that) her step mother. I think we really need to know what the issue was though to get a better understanding.

Speaking of age. How old was Lizzie when the murders happened? I'm trying to figure how old she was when her mother died - because when she was asked about her mother and fathers relationship, I'm trying to figure out if she was old enough to really actually know how their relationship was. Unless there was intense arguing/fighting, I think most kids think their parents relationship is in good standing. I'm wondering if that (age) had anything to do with her not knowing how to answer in regards to their relationship?

I find this case interesting, as I do with a lot of the older cases. Thanks for posting this. I can't wait for the next part!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Trigger, I put all my thoughts in my reply. I probably should have just put the first paragraph in reply.

As far as the question about the axe. I have a few different theories. Either it wasn't premeditated, and she used what was available during some crazed rage, or even if it was premeditated, maybe that's all she had access to for a weapon. Like you said, it's so bloody and gruesome, idk, I can only imagine she had some extremely deep rage and/or possible craziness.

I only know some vague things about this case, along with what I'm reading here. Does anyone know where I could read further?

Faye Musselman said...

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Anonymous said...

Her stepmother and dad were married 27 years! The stepmother had been in the picture since she was about 4 years old and Lizzie was 32 at the time of the murders. Essentially, she was the only mother Lizzie ever knew. Lizzie quit calling her mother because she was angry her father, a very stingy person, bought his wife's old family home so her sister could live there. Lizzie and Emma felt entitled to live more luxuriously than there father allowed. As soon as he was dead, they lived a much richer lifestyle. The will, money, father's stinginess, resentment of the stepmother--- that had everything to do with why Lizzie murdered them. She felt entitled to money that was going elsewhere.