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'47 Overell Murder Trial to Be Revisited

October 15, 1997|JEFF KASS

It was the O.J. Simpson trial of its day, a 17-year-old and her boyfriend accused of murdering her wealthy parents in 1947.

Today, the son of Beulah Overell's defense attorney will speak about his father's experience in the same Santa Ana courtroom in which Overell and George "Bud" Gollum, 21, were acquitted after the 19-week trial that captured the public's attention.

Overell and Gollum were accused of bludgeoning her parents to death and blowing up their yacht, with the bodies on board, as it lay in Newport Harbor. Evidence against the two lovers included the purchase of dynamite.

Portions of the trial were broadcast on radio, and one reporter wrote that, at the time, the trial "probably gained more newspaper space than any other trial with the exception of the famous Lindbergh kidnapping."

Defense attorneys, including Otto Jacobs, who represented Overell, disputed allegations that the victims had been beaten and suggested that Walter Overell set off the dynamite himself.

Jacobs' son, Robert, who will speak in Department 2 of the Old County Courthouse, said his father never doubted Overell and Gollum's innocence, given the evidence and their pleas.

Robert B. Sinclair, president of the Old Courthouse Museum Society, said the noon speech will provide a rare occasion to learn about the case.

The Overell trial, Sinclair said, was one of four trials that led to the Old County Courthouse being named a state historical landmark. But, he added, "Overell was probably the most exciting, murder being murder."

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