Peace Corps Writers
PCV Accused of Murdering His Wife
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PCV Accused of Murdering His Wife (page 2)
     Kinsey was standing one or two yards away from Peverley and looking away when he heard the sound of breaking glass. Glancing around, he saw Peverley had slipped from the top of the ledge, falling twenty feet to the rocky base.
     He ran to help her and as she tried to stand he held her down. "She was struggling, kicking and kept on calling my name," he said at his African trial. “I sat on her stomach and was trying to keep her from moving. I managed to get a towel and folded it underneath her head. She still struggled. I was shouting at her not to move. Some time later she did not struggle. I got up — I heard some people shouting — I shouted to the people and signaled to them to come to assist me. No one came.”
     Finally he placed her in the shade and went for help, but people threw sticks at him, shouted and snatched his bicycle. He tried to run towards the nearby town of Maswa, but others surrounded and stopped him. Desperate now, he sent a student of his to get the school headmaster.
     But when the help arrived, it was too late. He returned to the hill and found that Peverley had died.

The trial
Kinsey’s trial lasted three weeks. The courtroom was filled — mostly with Peace Corps Volunteers from Tanzania and other countries.
     According to Ededen Effiwatt, the Nigerian-born Senior State Attorney, Kinsey had induced his wife to go with him for a picnic, and had concealed the piece of iron wrapped in a towel in a picnic basket. They had ridden on their bicycles to lonely, rock-strewn Impala Hill, two miles from their school.
     Once there, Kinsey had taken his wife between two huge boulders where he had set upon her, beating her on the head with the piece of iron. There was fierce fighting between them, but Peverley was soon overpowered. Apart from the piece of iron he also made use of a stone to kill his wife, Mr. Effiwatt alleged.
     Effiwatt claimed that Kinsey’s diary, that the police had found in the couples’ house, contained written passages that tended to show unfaithfulness and implied a murder motive. The passages were not, however, Kinsey’s own prose. They were taken from Wright Morris’ novel, Ceremony in Lone Tree. Kinsey said he had simply copied the passages as examples of fine writing, and that they had nothing to do with questions of infidelity in his marriage. In fact, he told the court, he had never suspected his wife of being unfaithful to him, and that he loved her. He said that he had copied the extracts because they reflected a character in the book, were particularly descriptive or they were humorous. He said he often did this, and had kept similar notebooks over a period of years.
     A prosecution witness claimed in court that he had seen two people fighting from a distance of 140 yards. He said he saw a woman fall on the ground and there was a white man on top beating her with a “black tool.”
     The case, however, turned on two defense testimonies.
     A Nairobi pathologist testified that Peverley’s injuries were more likely to have been caused by a fall than by bludgeoning. And then on the closing day, in a dramatic gesture by the defense, Peverley’s mother, who had flown in from her home in Connecticut, testified that her daughter’s marriage had been “very happy and comfortable.”
     Referring to her daughter by her nickname of “Peppy," she told the court that she received many letters from Peppy and an occasional letter from her son-in-law during their time at Maswa. “I never had any letter indicating my daughter was unhappy in her marriage. None whatsoever. I was delighted with the marriage.” She said she had visited the couple at their school the year before, and “There was never any hint of trouble in their marriage.”
     Two “assessors” (including a USAID official from Tanzania) recommended Kinsey’s acquittal, and British-born Judge Harold Platt brought in his judgment. Kinsey’s guilt, he ruled, had not been “proved beyond reasonable doubt.”

After the verdict
After having spent five months in jail (where he spent most of his time teaching English to fellow prisoners), Kinsey flew immediately home, saying only that he wanted to be reassigned to Tanzania.
     Instead of being reassigned, Bill worked in PC/Washington for slightly more than a year, and then went to Stanford for an advance degree. Years later, remarried, he returned to West Africa as a relief worker.

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