Defendant's Request #2

While doing some family history research, I discovered that one of my grandmother's cousins, Charles Burr, a farmer in Burrville, Utah, had been killed by W.A. "Boss" Lipsey, a neighbor, in March 1943.

The Burr family version of the story says that Lipsey had run-ins with many other farmers in the valley, and that, after a water rights argument, he lay in wait in the bushes until Burr ventured out to feed his animals, and then he shot him in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun.

A version of the story online mentions a years-long feud between the two, and specifically referred to a fight a couple of years earlier between Burr, Lipsey, and Lipsey's sons.

I just received the court records for Lipsey's murder trial, including some information the defense drafted for the judge to pass along to the jury during their deliberations. Here is one, with the judge's handwritten notations in italics:

DEFENDANT'S REQUEST #2.

The Court instructs the jury that the evidence in the case shows, without dispute, that on August 7, 1941, Charles Burr, with his fingers and hands, dug out the left eye of the defendant.

Refused
July 1, 1943
John L. Sevy, Jr
Judge

The Burr account I have ends:
The family could not believe the verdict of second degree murder with a fifteen-year prison sentence with eligibility for parole after five years. Needless to say, the Burr family did not believe justice had been served.
The account does not mention what I found from newspaper accounts: that Boss Lipsey was denied parole once and appears to have died in the Utah State Prison. As of 1995, when this Burr family history was privately published, it doesn't sound like there's been much attempt to reconcile the Lipseys and the Burrs' versions of their intertwined history. I don't know if I'm up for trying, or if I'm too close or too far to do it.

05/12 UPDATE Thank you, Google. I have heard from one of Boss Lipsey' great grandchildren that Boss was, in fact, released from prison shortly before he died. As one might imagine, their family stories emphasize details that the Burr versions omit, like that Lipsey was in his mid-70s when he and 40-yo Charley first fought over their turns for the Koosharem Reservoir's irrigation water. I may end up putting the Burr family version of the incident online sometime; it was written by Charley's son Ned, who was around 13 at the time his father was killed.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: October 7, 2011.

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