Trouble: Was It Worth It?

Mary Anne Henry had heard enough. She requested Weidner be fined for violating court rules with his questions about Dean Moon and drugs. Henry insisted that the defense should offer evidence of drug allegations against Coulthurst before putting such questions to witnesses. Schulz took Peel and his attorney into chambers and offered a reprimand. But he declined to fine them. It was hardly worth the trouble.

There were more important things waiting in the wings.

Confession or Denial?

They had fought about it off and on for months. They fought behind closed doors. The fought in the Court of Appeals. Few people knew what the fuss was about and, even when it became known, few had seen — or heard — the source of the trouble. 

Trouble in the Bellingham Police interrogation room

It seems there had been a seesaw battle over John Peel’s climactic Bellingham jailhouse interview with the troopers. Procecutors claimed it held a John Peel confession. The defense wanted it thrown out. Both sides hoped to claim a victory.

When Judge Schulz’s suppressed most of Peel’s March 24, 1984, interview with Sergeants Flothe and Galyan, Mary Anne Henry appealed. She succeeded. Schulz issued another ruling: he would admit all but a fourteen minute portion of the disputed tape into evidence. Part of it was too difficult to understand. Part of it was evidence that could not be admitted in anyway.

Polygraph Results

Schulz decided to omit the portion where John Peel, thinking he was alone, made cryptic exhortations just before he took the polygraph exam. The rest of the excluded portion included the results of that examination, which indicated John Peel was “deceptive” when he denied killing Mark Coulthurst.

Interestingly enough, the defense also claimed to have a polygraph of John Peel. That they even mentioned it was proof he had passed that exam. Judge Schulz declined to admit that tape as well. They’d had enough trouble already.

Excerpts from the unpublished original manuscript, “Sailor Take Warning,” by Leland E. Hale. That manuscript, started in 1992 and based on court records from the Alaska State Archive, served as the basis for “What Happened in Craig.”

Copyright Leland E. Hale (2020). All rights reserved.


Order “What Happened In Craig,” HERE and HERE. True crime from Epicenter Press.

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