Denials and Counter Charges Offered As Nardelli Defense
Defendants Take Stand in Own Behalf, Accuse Hedderman and Companions of Being Drunk and Starting Trouble; Claim Fight Never Happened
By FRED N. FINNEY
The state rested its case-in-chief yesterday noon against Robert Nardelli and attorneys for the former operator of the Plantation night club began their defense on charges of aggravated battery. Nardelli is being tried In superior court before Judge Ernest W. McFarland to a packed court room, on charges growing out of the alleged unprovoked attack on Maurice Hedderman, Pima county civil deputy sheriff, early on the morning of August 31. Eddie Manciet Plantation head waiter is a co-defendant awaiting trial.
As the state yesterday completed its case in chief and the defense got well started on its defense, the same cleavages and conflictions in testimony of states' and defense witnesses appeared as did at Nardelli's and Manciets preliminary hearing last September 13. Three state's eye witnesses, including Hedderman, stated that they arrived at the Plantation shortly after 12:30 a. m. August 31, and, after a short stay, were attacked by Nardelli and Manciet.
Yesterday afternoon eight defense witnesses stated that Hedderman, Mrs. Jean Bridwell and Raymond Carlson, his companions, arrived at the Plantation between 10 and 11 o'clock the night of August 30. Three testified that they first went to the gambling room adjacent to the Plantation and that Hedderman created a rumpus and was under the influence of liquor. Two others testified to Hedderman's breaking a rear window glass in the car of Manciet. This same twain also testified that if Hedderman received injuries at the Plantation, he did so when falling against the fender of his car, after attacking one of them. Nardelli and Manciet testified of disturbances created by Hedderman upon arrival, and of their leaving unharmed as far as they knew. Both denied absolutely laying hand on Hedderman or of having knowledge of any fight in which he participated that night or early morning.
Harry O. Juliani, deputy county attorney, and Odin B. Dodd, special prosecutor, represent the state. George O. Hilzinger and E. T. Cusick are defending Nardelli.
At the outset of yesterday morning's morning's session, Raymond Carlson was returned to the stand for further cross-examination. The day before he had corroborated Hedderman's account of the attack.
Cusick pressed questions to Carlson on the question of the time element and Carlson persisted in his original statement that they had left shortly before 1. He remembered, the witness said, because announcements of the approach of the 1 o'clock closing law were being being made and patrons being urged to get their last drinks from the bar.
Nardelli, prior to the attack, was at all times very affable with them, Carlson stated and, in the instance of the altercation brought on by Eddie Manciet's accusations, playing the role of peacemaker.
Mrs. Bridwell was next called to the stand. She stated that they were at the Plantation perhaps 15 or 20 minutes, leaving just before before the resort closed. They arrived about 12:35 or 12:30 a. m. on the morning of August 31, Mrs. Bridwell said. Prior to this they had visited the Blue Moon and the Minerva cafe. Upon arrival Mrs. Bridwell said that Manciet rushed up to Hedderman and started the altercation over broken glass in his (Manciet's) car. She and Carlson Carlson did not hear much of this as they stood in the door of the bar, watching the dancing outside.
Tells of Attack
Leaving, a short time later, Mrs. Bridwell described what she saw of the attack upon Hedderman and, later, upon Carlson. They approached the car, Mrs. Bridwell said, she and Carlson leading, Nardelli and Hedderman following. Asked where the Hedderman car was parked, the witness said "in back of the building that housed the gambling equipment."
As she stepped into the car she heard a noise like the sound of a blow. Looking out the left side of the car (she had seated herself on the right side of the front seat) Mrs. Bridwell stated that she saw Hedderman staggering back as though hit, with Nardelli standing standing in front of him. As Hedderman staggered, the witness said, three or four others including Manciet appeared suddenly, and joined the attack. They began hitting Hedderman and, when he fell, they added kicks, the witness said. Definitely, Mrs. Bridwell testified to having seen Manciet hit Hedderman and told of a third man, a slender, dark curley haired man whom she said was a waiter at the Plantation. The witness further said that she saw this man Monday among the defense witnesses, but did not know his name.
Carlson then rushed around the front of the Hedderman car to lend aid to his fallen comrade and he was hit or kicked and knocked down, she testified. Mrs. Bridwell stated that she presumed they kicked Carlson, adding that she could not see from her position in the car. She then corroborated Carlson's statements of removing Hedderman, of taking him to the sheriff's office and later to a hospital for medical treatment.
The witness ended her direct examination by stating that, since that night she did not see Hedderman again until last Sunday, nor Carlson until Monday.
Under cross examination Hilzinger opened up on the witness by an attempt to get into the record the fact that last winter Mrs. Bridwell was involved in charges growing out of her having shot and wounded her husband. The state's attorneys promptly objected and were sustained before Hilzinger gained his admission from the witness. Juliani charged that Hilzinger was deliberately trying to prejudice Mrs. Bridwell in the eyes of the jury and asked the court to reprimand him. Juliani further asserted that if such actions were permitted he would like to give the jury Nardelli's past record.
Hedderman did not go down under under the first blow, Mrs. Bridwell said under cross examination, falling after Manciet had struck him. "How do you know there was gambling equipment in that room?" Hilzinger asked. "I was in there, twice." Mrs. Bridwell responded. The witness stated, under further questions, that neither she nor her two escorts were in the gambling room the night of the alleged attack.
At the sheriff’s office, under questions from Hilzinger, Mrs. Bridwell stated that she talked to A. C. Gutherie, court house watchman and defense witness. Gutherie asked her how the fight happened she said, but she denied telling Gutherie that she did not know who had hit Hedderman. "I told Gutherie 'they all hit him'," she said.
Dr. Dake Biddle, eye specialist, was the first of three physicians called to give medical testimony as to Hedderman's injuries and results therefrom if any. Dr. Biddle, who made four examinations of Hedderman's right eye, after having been called into the case by Dr. J. B. Littlefield, stated that the vision of that optic was impaired and the pupil enlarged.
Under cross examination, the physician stated that this condition was a secondary result of some other primary cause. He remembered vaguely an eye wound, under the optic but refused to discuss possible skull injuries. To a question of Hilzinger, Dr. Biddle stated that the eye condition was not the result of syphilis and refused to agree with some theory from some book on this matter which Hilzinger propounded to him. When Hilzinger asked the doctor if any wound so slight as the one suffered by Hedderman could have caused the eye injury, Dr. Biddle stated that a blow from a tennis ball might have caused a similar trouble.
Dr. J. B. Littlefield, called to a hospital about 1:20 a. m. August 31 to treat Hedderman's injuries, testified as to a cut under the right eye, necessitating two stitches, an abrasion and contusion behind the right ear and a bruised area on the right shoulder. The physician stated that Hedderman was incoherent and in a highly excited state. The eye wound was caused by some blunt instrument, the doctor said, but the head wound might have been caused by a fall, or a blow. It appeared like a glancing, rather than a direct blow the physician said.
The mildest effects from a head blow are concussions, Dr. Littlefield said. Such a blow could effect the eye sight, and such would produce symptoms of incoherency and excitement similar to those shown by the patient. Such a blow with concussion would also cause the sufferer to vomit, the doctor said. Under cross examination, Dr. Littlefleld admitted that liquor can also cause vomiting and incoherency. The physician also stated that he did not feel that the eye injury came from a fall.
Last of the medical witnesses for the state was Dr. Edward M. Hayden, X-ray specialist, who took X-ray pictures of Hedderman's head and translated these for the jury. The photos showed that inside the skull, above the orbit of the right eye, some disturbance had produced a compression in the fissure containing the optic nerve, the physician said. This condition, possibly a fracture, was regarded by Dr. Hayden as highly serious. In addition, Dr. Hayden stated that the inner lining of the skull had been torn, indicating a vigorous blow, and that there was evidence of internal hemorrhage.
Asked what effect this injury would have on Hedderman, Dr. Hayden hesitated, said that he hated to say what he had to say in the presence of Hedderman, then said that the injury was very serious and if it progressed may cause a very delicate and difficult operation to restore normal sight.
The blow behind the ear contributed to the condition, the specialist said, adding that any blow of this character brings about a concussion, and produces symptoms similar to those of a fighter who has been knocked out, or who has become punch drunk.
In a second X-ray photo, taken some time later, Dr. Hayden stated that he had perceived no improvement in Hedderman's eye condition. Under cross examination. Dr. Biddie stated that trouble in the affected area was present, in all X-ray pictures taken and that, while the plates do not show a distinct fracture, it must be assumed that a fracture does exist.
Under re-direct examination. Dr. Hayden stated that Hedderman's particular injury was more serious than some fractures, in that it may mean a permanent impairment of the optic nerve. The scene of trouble, the fissure, has been disturbed, the doctor said, and a calcium deposit is building up within the tiny aperture, Dr. Hayden then said that he would not care to be more definite without opportunity to study and photograph the case over a period of two years. He added that Hedderman cannot recover his normal eye condition within 90 days, as Dr. Biddle opined that he could. The state then rested.
The first defense witness called was Miguel Montijo, who testified that he was in the gambling room, adjacent to the Plantation about 10:30 that night and that Hedderman, a man and woman, came in about 11. They stayed about five minutes and Hedderman interrupted play at the roulette wheel, the witness said.
Cursing, Hedderman grabbed the wheel, Montijo recounted, saying that he had a "million complaints" against the "joint" and could close it up if he wanted to. He charged that everyone there was a crook, Montijo said, and acted as if he were drunk. The man companion took him from the gambling room, Montijo continued, and immediately after they had left Montijo heard a crash. He stepped out, fearing that someone had run into his car. He saw a Ford car, with the rear glass knocked out and Hedderman heading for the rear door of the Plantation.
There as late as one o'clock the next morning, Montijo said, he heard nothing of a row or fight outside (where, nearby, Hedderman and two witnesses testified to the attack by Nardelli and Manciet). After he returned downtown Montijo said he saw deputy sheriffs and heard that Hedderman had been hurt.
Under cross examination, Montijo said that he had no occupation. He was a friend of Nardelli's but not an employe, he said, adding that, while he gambled at the Plantation "when I had anything to gamble with" that night he was merely a spectator. Pressed as to detail about the gambling room, Montijo said he understood the layout was operated by William Reams, not by Nardelli.
Tells of Gambling
At the time he stated that Hedderman came in, Montijo said that Joe Sweeney was dealing "21"; Art Francis was "just there" Montijo said he didn't know Francis was a gambler; Alfredo Rochin was "wheel dealer" and there, were two or three customers. Asked by Juliani if Hedderman's alleged charge that all in the place were crooks was true, Montijo said. "I don't think so."
Referring to the crash and his discovery of the broken car glass, Montijo said he did not see Hedderman break it, nor did he see anyone else in the near locality.
Pressed as to his occupation and source of income by Juliani, who was apparently trying to trap the witness into an admission that he was a gambler, Montljo stated that "I get all I collect." He mentioned mortgages and interest.
"Who owes you?" Juliani pressed. "I owe them," Montijo said.
"Then you live on the interest from your debts?" the prosecutor asked. "That's about the size of it," Montijo said.
Arthur Francis, next witness, was dealing roulette when Hedderman came into the gambling room and made the scene described first by described first by Montijo and now corroborated by Francis. "This is a crooked joint, everybody in it is crooked,” Hedderman said, according to Francis. The witness stated that Hedderman appeared drunk. Remaining at the “club rooms” until three or four that morning, Francis stated that he heard nothing of a fight on the outside. Reams had employed him there, Francis said, and he had worked at the club room since last February, his employment terminating when the club closed in September.
Under cross-examination, Francis stated that he was a miner and refused to admit he was "a well known professional gambler." "When do you mine, day time or night time?" Juliani asked, and ran into a mass of objections from the defense attorneys, who charged that Juliani's question was improper, insolent and sarcastic. "The only mine you ever worked in was this gambling house?" persisted Juliani. "Mr. Juliani, I have been working in mines since I was 14," Francis responded.
Juliani then pointed to William F. Kimball, Tucson attorney and associate of Ben C. Hill, who, Monday was mistaken for Carlson by Hilzinger, and asked Francis if that man was Carlson, the man with Hedderman. “It looks like him, yes sir.” Francis answered.
Francis denied being asked to testify against Hedderman as he had, and stated that he did not testify in the preliminary hearing and was first called as a witness last Friday.
“21” Dealer Talks Joe Sweeney, “21” dealer, was the next witness. He fully corroborated the two previous witnesses in testifying as to the alleged ruckus caused in the gambling room by Hedderman, placing the time at about 11 o’clock. He testified positively that Hedderman was under the influence of liquor.
On cross-examination, he stated that Montijo was working as an “extra” that night and “relieving us.” The room that night provided craps, “21” and roulette. Sweeney said he did not hear a crash, as of breaking glass after Hedderman left the gambling room, nor any disturbance outside shortly after one a.m. He never worked for either Nardelli nor Manciet, Sweeney stated, and never talked to any one save the attorneys about the case.
Councilman Will T. Boyd, who was a visitor to the Plantation that night in his other capacity as beer salesman, was the next witness. Boyd stated that, upon arriving about 10:30 or 11:00 p. m. that night his attention was called to a disturbance in the rear of the place, near the kitchen entrance. Manciet and a group were present and Nardelli came up and pacified all, sending Manciet about his business. Nardelli then took the remainder of the group, numbering six or seven, into the bar for a drink. Boyd stated that Hedderman was among that number.
Nardelli then telephoned the sheriff’s office, Boyd reported. The witness stated that he remained at the Plantation until closing time, and from closing time (1 o’clock) he was with Nardelli in the bar, waiting for him to check his cash and pay an account owed by Boyd.
Under cross-examination, Boyd fixed the time of Nardelli’s call to the sheriff’s office at not later than 11 o’clock. He sold beer to Nardelli, Boyd said, and at that time, expected to continue to do so. Under questions from Dodd, Boyd became slightly uncertain as to his positive identification of Hedderman as the cause of the rumpus he had described. He admitted going to Hedderman’s house about three weeks ago to see if he had been mistaken in his testimony at the preliminary hearing, positively identifying Hedderman. He admitted telling Hedderman, at the time of the call, that the man he saw at the Plantation had blond hair, but resembled him (Hedderman) in weight, height and looks. Hedderman was accompanied by a crowd of six or seven, Boyd said.
After the initial disturbance, Boyd admitted that he did not again see the man he thought was Hedderman, nor did he see any further disturbance. Pressed by Dodd, Boyd stated that he was not positive the man he referred to was Hedderman but “he thought so.” Under re-direct examination, Boyd stated “he would judge the man to be Hedderman.”
A. C. Guthrie, night watchman at the court house, was next called. After Carlson and Mrs. Bridwell had taken the injured man to the sheriff’s office and on a subsequent occasion, Guthrie testified to talking to Hedderman and Mrs. Bridwell. Mrs. Bridwell, according to the witness, said she did not know who hit Hedderman. Two days later, talking to Hedderman, the latter told him he didn’t know, “the whole gang jumped on me.”
Under cross-examination, Guthrie admitted Hedderman had said he didn’t know “who all hit me.” Asked to describe Hedderman’s condition when he first saw him at the sheriff’s office, Guthrie said his face, shirt and trousers were bloody; Hedderman couldn’t see out of his right eye, and scarcely more out of his left. Guthrie said “My God, they pretty near killed you,” and Hedderman responded, “I guess so.”
Guthrie sold Nardelli the Plantation property, he said, and from the fall of 1934 until last spring, worked there as “bouncer,” on holidays and Saturday nights.
Next witness was Wallace Holloway, waiter part time at the Plantation. The night in question he was there, but not working. Between 10 and 11 o’clock he saw Hedderman, with Carlson and Mrs. Bridwell, approaching the kitchen door to the Plantation, he testified He saw Hedderman pick up a board and strike the rear glass of Manciet’s car twice, breaking the glass. As Hedderman threw down the board and entered the door, Holloway asked him “what the idea was” and Hedderman pushed him aside and entered the bar. Holloway at once informed Manciet and pointed out Hedderman.
Holloway then testified as to the argument between Manciet and Hedderman outside over the broken glass, and of Nardelli’s pacifying all. Later, Hedderman created a ruckus in the bar room, cursing and acting wild, Holloway said.
After 1 o’clock that morning, as he and Joe Dominguez, waiter, were leaving for home, he again encountered Hedderman, Holloway said. As he passed a car parked in the areaway between the Plantation proper and the gambling room, he noted Hedderman, Mrs. Bridwell and Carlson, seated on the running board of a car. As he drew near, Hedderman jumped to his feet and cursing him as the one who told Manciet about the glass breaking incident, attacked.
Calling him a “dirty name,” Holloway testified that Hedderman swung and missed, and they grappled and fell to the ground. Carlson ran up and attempted to engage Dominguez. Both boys eluded further fisticuffs, gained their car and left, picking up another waiter, Sam Torres, owner of the car.
Neither Nardelli nor Manciet was present at this fracas, Holloway insisted, stating that he would have seen them had they been there.
Asked, under cross-examination, how much Nardelli has paid him since the Plantation was closed, Holloway said nothing. He stated that he did not see Mike Montijo there that night. Holloway also emphatically denied being told to say that Hedderman arrived at the Plantation between 10 and 11 that night.
Tells of Broken Glass
Joe Dominguez, waiter, testified to much the same story as Holloway. He was behind Hedderman coming to the bar with empty beer glasses, when he saw Hedderman grab a board and break the rear glass in Manciet’s car, he stated. Corroborating the testimony of the argument with Manciet over the glass window, Dominguez testified that, later at the bar Hedderman created a series of disturbances, grabbing him, the witness, on several occasions and charging him with telling Manciet.
This went on until closing time, with Hedderman continuing to be objectionable, Dominguez related. He then corroborated Holloway’s recount of the fight on the outside. He, Dominguez, when attacked by Carlson was hit, felled and knocked under the car, he said. “He whammed me a couple and I fell under the car.” They then made good their escape without further damage, Dominguez recounted. Hedderman and Carlson were the aggressors throughout, the witness said.
No one else was there, and had there been, he could have seen them. Dominguez ended his direct examination.
Next witness was Marie Hoffman, waitress at the Pirates Cove and a visitor at the Plantation that night. This witness positively identified Hedderman as the man she saw drunk, objectionable and abusive on the night in question. She saw him twice before midnight and once afterwards, the witness said. The last time seen was on the outside after midnight, when Hedderman was drunk, staggering and falling on one knee.
Under cross examination, Miss Hoffman stated that she was sober, and did not drink at the Plantation, was there waiting for a friend. She based her fixing of the time element on the fact that she first saw Hedderman just after the 11 o’clock floor show had ended, and she noticed him especially “because he was trying to bite his lady friend on the neck.”
Next called was Eddie Manciet, who, questioned, stated that he had no university degrees, but had been born in Tucson and lived here all his life, working for a living. Mainly a hotel clerk, Manciet stated that he has known Nardelli since 1927 and has been employed by him as head waiter at the Plantation.
Hedderman arrived on the night in question between 10:30 and 11:00 o’clock, Manciet stated, and he first knew of his presence when informed by Holloway of the breaking of glass in his car. Manciet then corroborated former testimony of defense witnesses as to the argument with Hedderman near his car and of the pacification by Nardelli who ordered him back to his work. Off and on, throughout the remainder of the evening he saw Hedderman, but they had not further words nor any trouble, Manciet said.
Later Carlson, shaking hands with him, tried to talk to him in Spanish, Manciet said. Carlson had had “quite a few drinks,” the head waiter added.
Ushers Party Out
At closing time, Nardelli ushered Hedderman and his two companions out via the rear door, latching it from the inside after their exit. Nardelli then remained in the bar for some time checking the cash, Manciet said, not leaving for an instant. At 1:30 when he left the Plantation for home, m Nardelli had already gone, the witness added.
Manciet positively denied attacking Hedderman or Carlson and made the same denial for Nardelli.
Under cross-examination, Manciet stated that he first heard of the row the next day. Mention was made of his going to the county attorney’s office to be questioned by Juliani and Sheriff Belton.
On re-direct examination, “They wanted me to tell them what happened that night,” Manciet said. “When I did, they told me to keep quiet and keep away from their office.” Asked by Hilzinger what he told them, Manciet said, “The same as I have told today.”
Manciet identified the $9.30 bar check, which he said Hedderman signed in his presence on January 1, 1934, after giving a party of friends a party at the Plantation. The court’s ruling on whether this check, which Hedderman denied signing, is to be admitted into evidence, was withheld.
Next and last witness of yesterday was the defendant, Robert E. Nardelli. Nardelli stated that Hedderman, Carlson and Mrs. Bridwell arrived at the Plantation between 10:30 and 11:00 o’clock that night. His first attention was called by the ruckus in the rear over the broken glass. He quieted all, sent Manciet about his work, and invited Hedderman in for a friendly drink. Hedderman ordered a gin fizz, he (Nardelli) gave the bartender a wink, and Hedderman got lemonade, Nardelli said. Hedderman was “kind of wobbly,” Nardelli said, and appeared to have been drinking.
Thence on, throughout the evening, Hedderman was “out of line,” Nardelli said, and up to 1 o’clock needed constant attention and quieting down. Close to 11 o’clock he telephoned the sheriff’s office asking for an officer to quell some trouble, the defendant testified. Deputy Roy Manning answered about 1:15 or 1:20 a. m. and Nardelli told him the offenders had left. Asked by Manning who they were, Nardelli said he started to describe the disturbance when Manning laughed and said, “it sounds like Hedderman.”
“it was,” Nardelli testified he replied.
At 1 o’clock closing time Hedderman wanted another drink, which was denied, Nardelli said. Hedderman then demanded a bottle of whiskey which was also denied. Nardelli said he then urged Hedderman to the rear entrance, saw him out and latched the door after him, returning to check the bar cash.
As he checked the cash, Nardelli said he talked to Boyd and Mrs. Boyd and did not leave the bar room until this task was completed. He did not see Hedderman again that evening, was not near Hedderman’s car, and absolutely denied striking or assaulting Hedderman, denying similarly for Manciet. Nardelli then denied ever threatening Hedderman, stating that he merely tried to pacify him. Nardelli denied instructing anyone else to go after Hedderman and stated that the first he heard of Hedderman’s injuries was the following Tuesday when William R. Misbaugh, attorney, asked him to come to his office.
Hedderman was produced, Nardelli said, and Misbaugh told him (Nardelli) that Hedderman wanted to sue him for hitting him. Misbaugh laughed in delivering the message, the defendant said. Hedderman then told him he would like to receive payment for his injuries, Nardelli testified. Asking Hedderman, “Are you suing me?” Hedderman replied, “I’m going to,” Nardelli said. Nardelli then related that Hedderman said he (Nardelli) must have hit him as he had had his arm about his (Hedderman’s) shoulder just before the attack.
Under cross-examination, conducted by Juliani, Nardelli denied making a statement in the presence of Juliani and A. H. Murchison, deputy sheriff, that he heard of the attack on Hedderman the same day it happened.
Juliani then pressed question after question at Nardelli attempting to extract statements as to the defendants’ past activities and businesses. Nardelli stated that he had had a wholesale business, a hotel and various other businesses.
Juliani: “What is your general occupation?”
Juliani: “The truth is, it is bootlegging and gambling.”
Juliani: “The truth is you have been convicted of bootlegging five times, haven’t you?” Vigorous objection of Hilzinger was sustained by the court and the jury told to disregard this question. Nardelli, still pressed by the prosecutor, denied that his general occupation was bootlegging “as long as it wasn’t proven.”
“Well, you were bootlegging, whether it was proven or not,” persisted Juliani.
Nardelli denied Hedderman’s statement on the stand that, immediately after reaching the bar at the Plantation, a high school boy had approached him and made a charge of gambling. He stated that he did not see Hedderman break the glass in Manciet’s car, as charged by the two waiters. Stating that he had known Hedderman for two years, Nardelli denied telling Deputy Manning that Mickey Nolan, city motorcycle officer was the man who caused the trouble at the Plantation that night.
Nardelli then denied telling Manning that he saw Hedderman break the glass. Asked of he discharged Holloway after the alleged fight with Hedderman, Nardelli denied this action, saying that Holloway was an extra waiter, subject to call.
Carlson and Mrs. Bridwell were “happy” that night, Nardelli said, and Hedderman owes him money. Nardelli recalled that, previously, Hedderman had come to the Plantation with a search warrant to pick up some slot machines, “but not mine,” Nardelli hastened to add. Prior to this raid he had known the officer, remembering him in the days when he was a county motorcycle officer. Nardelli’s examination had not been concluded when yesterday’s session ended.