Cold case murder trial can use Mississippi evidence

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Prosecutors may use evidence about the disappearances of two Mississippi women when Felix Vail is tried in his first wife's death, the Louisiana Supreme Court has said.

Although Justice Jefferson Hughes III voted to hear it, Vail's case was among nearly 90 that the court rejected Friday without comment.

Vail, who recently turned 76, is scheduled for trial Nov. 17 in Lake Charles on a charge of second-degree murder in the 1962 death of Mary Horton Vail.

Her death originally was ruled accidental drowning.

Calcasieu Parish prosecutors plan to bring evidence about the disappearances of two other women close to Vail: his girlfriend Sharon Hensley in 1973; and his second wife, Annette Carver-Vail, in 1984.

The state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ruled June 3 that prosecutors may use the evidence even though there's no direct evidence that Vail "disposed of" them. Vail says both left him to travel.

After The Clarion-Ledger published an article in 2012 quoting a pathologist who said Mary Vail's death was homicide, the Calcasieu Parish coroner - also a pathologist - ruled that it was homicide.

The newspaper reports that it has located a woman who says Vail once mentioned Mary Vail's death while threatening her.

Alexandra Christiansen, said she was married to Vail briefly in the late 1970s. He once told her "You know, my first wife died" in an argument during which he later choked her.

Christiansen said she answered that Vail had told her that Mary Vail drowned, and he answered, "I could have saved her, but I chose not to."

She said she took his remark as "a threat to me that I better watch it, that he was capable of killing."

Published: Tue, Sep 01, 2015