T. Clement Gaughan [RG5864.AM]


RG5864.AM:  T. Clement Gaughan, 1903-1983

Papers: 1958

Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska:  Attorney

Size:  0.4 cu.ft.; 1 box


This collection consists of materials related to the 1958 murder trial of Charles R. Starkweather, in which T. Clement Gaughan served as defense attorney.  Starkweather was the perpetrator of a series of infamous murders, beginning with the November 30, 1957, murder of Robert Colvert in Lincoln, Nebraska.  On January 21, 1958, Starkweather murdered his girlfriend’s mother and stepfather, Velda and Marion Fugate, and their two-year-old daughter Betty Jean Fugate. On January 27, Starkweather and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate drove to Bennet, Nebraska, where Starkweather murdered August Meyer. When Starkweather and Fugate fled, their car became mired in mud.  Robert Jensen and Carol King stopped to render assistance, and Starkweather murdered them as well. With Jensen’s car, Starkweather and Fugate returned to Lincoln, where they murdered C. Lauer and Clara Ward and their maid Lillian Fencl on January 28. Starkweather and Fugate fled to Wyoming in Ward’s vehicle. On January 29, near Douglas, Wyoming, Starkweather carjacked and murdered Merle Collison. Starkweather and Fugate were apprehended as they attempted to flee the scene.

Starkweather claimed Fugate had been a willing participant in the murders, and that she had mutilated and shot Carol King, stabbed Clara Ward and Lillian Fencl, and shot Merle Collison.

After giving a statement in the Douglas, Wyoming, jail on January 29, 1958, Starkweather and Fugate were extradited to Nebraska for trial. On February 1, 1958, Starkweather gave statements to Elmer M. Scheele, County Attorney of Lancaster County, Nebraska (the transcripts total 192 pages, from four distinct sessions). On February 27, 1958, he gave another statement to Dale E. Fahrnbruch, Chief Deputy Attorney for Lancaster County, Nebraska (the transcript is 164 pages long). On March 1, 1958, Starkweather waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Lancaster County Court. On March 10, 1958, T. Clement Gaughan and William Matschullat were appointed to defend Starkweather.  The trial ran from May 5 through May 23, 1958, and Starkweather was found guilty and sentenced to death.  Gaughan and Matschullat first moved for a new trial and later appealed to have Starkweather’s sentence reduced to life, failing in both attempts.  Starkweather fired Gaughan and Matschullat on February 18, 1959. Starkweather was executed June 25, 1959.


This collection is arranged in a single series and includes documents related to the May 1958 murder trial of Charles R. Starkweather.  The collection originated with T. Clement Gaughan, one of Starkweather’s two defense attorneys.

The collection includes correspondence, a sketch of Gaughan by Starkweather, jury information, court documents, statutory references, psychiatric information used for the insanity defense, notes relating to the case, transcripts of Starkweather’s statements about the murders, side-by-side comparisons of the information given by Starkweather in different statements, court briefs, and other documents related to the trial or consulted by Gaughan in preparation for the trial.

Note:  Not included are Gaughan’s own notes regarding the trial or any interviews he may have had with Starkweather, nor any information related to appeals.

The collection includes one document from outside the time period of the trial: several pages of notes from a 1966 conference with psychiatrists, which was held at “Clem’s house” (presumably Gaughan’s house). Starkweather is not explicitly mentioned by name in these notes, but the notes were found inside Gaughan’s folder labeled “Starkweather” along with other materials more clearly related to the trial. Aside from this one item, all other items in the collection appear to date from 1958.


Box 1


    1. Correspondence to T. Clement Gaughan from lawyers, psychiatrist, expert witness, and other professionals connected to Starkweather trial
    2. Correspondence to T. Clement Gaughan from general public regarding Starkweather trial, including hate mail and letters of support
    3. Pencil sketch of T. Clement Gaughan by Charles R. Starkweather
    4. Contents of T. Clement Gaughan’s folder labeled “Starkweather” including jury seating charts, notes from 1966 conference with psychiatrists at Gaughan’s house, fragments of court documents, photocopies of notes, and a small notebook
    5. T. Clement Gaughan’s folder labeled “Starkweather” (empty) with dates, tasks, and billable hours written on front, [1958?] Mar. 10-Apr. 13
    6. Contents of T. Clement Gaughan’s binder including questions for psychiatrist expert witness, challenges for cause, voir dire, jury selection information, District Court of Lancaster County documents, lists of relatives of victims, lists of witnesses, statement of the law: insanity defense, summary of defense witnesses, copies of statutes, index of crimes and punishments, and defendant’s memorandum brief
    7. District Court of Lancaster County, Nebraska, Motion to Produce [. . .] of Confession, Doc. 9 Page 205 Order, Motion for Court to Appoint Medical Experts, and Affidavit
    8. Lists of petit jurors drawn 1958, Apr. 12, to appear 1958, May 5, with handwritten annotations
    9. General Number 34498 in the Supreme Court of Nebraska, Brief of Charles R. Starkweather including statements of questions involved, statement of the case, assignments of error, propositions of law, statement of the facts, argument, conclusion, and cases cited (1st carbon, office copy)
    10. Questions asked of Charles R. Starkweather and detailed notes on his responses, variously dated 1958, Feb.-Mar. (photocopies)
    11. Charles R. Starkweather’s letter to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Mar. 5, and his written statement made in jail in Douglas, Wyoming, 1958, Jan. 30 (photocopies)
    12. Comparison of Charles R. Starkweather’s statement given in Douglas, Wyoming, 1958, Jan. 30, and statement given to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Feb. 1, in chronologically-aligned parallel texts
    13. Comparison of Charles R. Starkweather’s statement given to Dale E. Fahrnbruch, 1958, Feb. 27, and letter to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Apr. 9, in chronologically-aligned parallel texts
    14. Charles R. Starkweather statement to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Feb. 1, 12:25 p.m., regarding Robert Colvert murder (photocopy)
    15. Charles R. Starkweather statement to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Feb. 1, 1:15 p.m., regarding Velda, Marion, and Betty Jean Bartlett murders (photocopy)
    16. Charles R. Starkweather statement to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Feb. 1, 2:30 p.m., regarding August Meyer murder (photocopy)
    17. Charles R. Starkweather statement to Elmer M. Scheele, 1958, Feb. 1, 3:25 p.m., regarding C. Lauer Ward, Clara Ward, and Lillian Fencl murders (photocopy)
    18. Charles R. Starkweather statement to Dale E. Fahrnbruch, 1958, Feb. 27, 6:45 p.m., followup to Fahrnbruch’s questioning of Caril Ann Fugate (photocopy)


Subject headings:

Fahrnbruch, Dale E.

Gaughan, T. Clement, 1903-1983

Scheele, Elmer M.

Serial murders — Nebraska

Starkweather, Charles Raymond, 1938-1959

Trials (Murder) — Nebraska


AK          05-28-2014


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