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Leslie Elaine Perez Murder Trial (1966)

KPRC-TV

Silent | 1966

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  •  Defense attorneys Lloyd Lunsford (seated) and Jack Knight 
  •  Assistant District Attorney Neil McKay, right 
  •  Judge Truman Roberts 
 
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This unedited footage from Houston’s KPRC-TV captures the scene at the Coryell County Courthouse during the murder trial of Leslie Elaine Perez (a transgender woman then known as Leslie Douglas Ashley) on June 10, 1966. Perez was convicted in 1961 for the fatal shooting of Houston realtor Fred Tones and sentenced to execution. Perez’s girlfriend, Carolyn Lima, was also convicted and sentenced to death. Federal Circuit Judge John R. Brown issued stays of execution for Lima and Perez on March 29, 1963, four hours before they were scheduled to die. The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that the prosecution had suppressed evidence favorable to the defendants, and ordered new trials for both. Following their second trials, Lima was sentenced to five years in prison, and Perez was declared insane and sent to a state mental hospital in San Antonio. Perez escaped, spending six months on the run before being discovered working as a clown for a traveling carnival. She was tried again for Tones’ murder and sentenced to 15 years, serving five.