July 13, 1977: A Remembrance

An excerpt from my doctoral dissertation, CRITICAL RACE POETICS AND THE GHOSTLY MATTER OF U.S. V. NARCISO AND PEREZ:

On July 13, 1977, after deliberating for 94 hours over the span of 15 days, the jury finally reached a verdict.

From Leonora Perez’s diary:

July 13, Wednesday: Went to Det. Cadillac w/ Daddy only. Itay, Inay, Ellen and company did not feel like going so they stayed. On our way to the hotel we heard on WWJ Tom McIntyre that maybe today is the day of the verdict because when the jury went inside the courtroom they were not dressed in blue jeans like before but it could also mean they will eat lunch at the renaissance center. So we hurriedly drove and reached the hotel and we say Tom O’Brien. Had to order breakfast for us when Grace and Cora came down to say they need us right away. Tom checked with Shirley so we waited and comes Vicky running and hurry up that today is the verdict. So we hurried up to the 25th floor and dressed up. Called Ellen so the family can come. Cameras flocked around us and we reached court were the only ones they were waiting for. The courtroom was packed with reporters, supporters, etc. Before they started the lawyers went in to the chamber and they were told whatever the verdict is the girls will go home till 9am tomorrow.

The 12 jurors came in and never looked at us. So the foreman handed in the verdict and the judge asked Steven Greenlay to read and read it. Narciso is found guilty on count 1 which is conspiracy, so I told myself my god I’m also guilty. They dropped PI’s [a.k.a. Filipina Narciso’s] murder and one poisoning. We were convicted on 3 counts of poisoning each and 1 count of conspiracy.

Everybody was shocked, disbelief and stunned. We went in to the institute and never said a word. My parents came, I just cried when I saw my mother, Ellen & co. and most of all my 2 boys. We went home very very sad. Could not take it. Went to PI’s to join for a prayer. Had interview w/ Kirk Cheyfitz and also Ann Arbor News. Met sympathizers. Home to Detroit. [1]

As Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez potentially faced life imprisonment on account of poisoning, a wave of protests in support of the two nurses continued. Protesters charged the FBI with racial discrimination and legal lynching. At one rally a few days after the verdict, Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez spoke out. “On the 13th day of July,” said Filipina Narciso, “justice died.” Leonora Perez said that she had simply “lost [her] faith in the American system.” [2]

NOTES:
[1]
From Leonora Perez’s unpublished prison diaries.
[2] Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez are quoted in “Hundreds Protest Conviction of Nurses in Poisoning,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 1977, B4.

13. July 2017 by Hason
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