The crime Galveston refused to forgive

Leo Lera (The Galveston Daily News)

Leo Lera’s second murder trial began 14 months after he shot Harry Phillips over a stool at Deppen’s bar early on Dec. 25, 1938. Perhaps confident of a acquittal the first time, Lera offered the only testimony in his own defense. The strategy backfired when the jury voted […]

Leo Lera: The scapegoat for ‘The Free State of Galveston’

Mike Calandra, left, and Leo Lera look through the bars of their Galveston County Jail cell shortly after their arrest. (The Galveston Daily News)

Galvestonians have always taken pride in their tolerance, especially during the years when they called their home “The Free State of Galveston.” For decades, the island’s well-known underworld dons flouted […]

Discrimination claims and Hollywood defense tactics frame 1946 murder trial

Creative Commons/Chris Blakeley

Charles Ludwig Ueckert sat slumped in his chair at the back of Happy’s Newsstand and domino parlor on the night of July 20, 1945. The 69-year-old watchman dozed, apparently unconcerned about the possibility of a robbery. He never saw the fatal blow coming.

His assailant snuck up behind him and wrapped […]

Hair links World War II vet to 1949 Galveston murder

This photo spread appeared in the Nov. 28 edition of The Galveston Daily News. The photos by the water show suspect James Madison Turner III telling police officials where he tossed the murder weapon.

The day after Thanksgiving in 1949, the Texas City police chief and two Texas Rangers knocked at the door of […]