Motions in case of Felix Vail being heard in court today - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Motions in case of Felix Vail heard in court

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Felix Vail (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office) Felix Vail (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office)

Felix Vail, the man accused in the 1962 death of his wife Mary Horton Vail, was in 14th Judicial District Court on Wednesday.

The court took up several motions in the case. Vail's finances were also reviewed.

According to court testimony, Vail gave his niece $20,000. Judge Robert Wyatt asked Vail's niece to turn the money back over to the court. Wyatt said the money will be used by the Public Defender's Office to use for expert witnesses and other expenses in Vail's case.

The niece has been ordered to return the money by the close of business on Thursday. Court officials indicated that other assets of Vail's, in Oklahoma, may take longer.

Family members of Mary Horton Vail were in court, watching the proceedings.

The defense also filed a motion to have the second-degree murder indictment thrown out. They requested the prosecution answer why they believe Mary Horton Vail's death was a homicide and not an accidental drowning. The prosecution told the court that was already answered at the preliminary exam hearing in June.

"The defense subpoenaed Dr. Terry Welke, the coroner, who laid out all of the reasons the state thinks this is a homicide. So, why do we need to answer all over again, when it is already on record with the court?," said Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.

Wyatt agreed and sided with the prosecution.

Attorneys also discussed whether Vail should have to submit handwriting samples to compare to letters sent to the mothers of Sharon Hensley and Annette Craver Vail, a girlfriend and wife, both of whom are missing.

Defense attorneys say it has nothing to do with the death of Mary Horton Vail. They argue that the samples are not admissible in court.

The judge, however, ordered that the samples be turned over Wednesday. Defense Attorney Andrew Casanave said his client refuses.

"The courts have long since held that a handwriting sample is not a constitutional right. And the court ordered the defendant to submit that handwriting sample today and the defendant has already refused to do that on the advice of his attorney," said DeRosier.

While they are claiming another small victory, Mary Horton Vail's family said Vail's refusal to submit the sample leads them to believe he has something to hide.

"I think that and trying to move money ... that's two things right there off the top that would make you wonder. Why is he doing this if everything is so above board or has been for the last 50 years? Why in the last month are we moving money to other members of the family and denying a handwriting sample," said Steve Horton, Mary Horton Vail's nephew.

Vail was ruled a flight risk in June and remains jailed in the Calcasieu Correctional Center with no bond.

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