Her chief defense was really “I am a woman”

Robert St. Estephe–Gonzo Historian–is dedicated to uncovering the forgotten past of marginalizing men. “Gonzo journalism” is characterized as tending “to favor style over fact to achieve accuracy.” Yet history – especially “social history” – is written by ideologues who distort and bury facts in order to achieve an agenda. “Gonzo” writing is seen as unorthodox and surprising. Yet, in the 21st century subjectivity, distortion and outright lying in non-fiction writing is the norm. Fraud is the new orthodoxy. Consequently, integrity is the new “transgressive.”

Welcome to the disruptive world of facts, the world of Gonzo History.


During the early decades of the 20th century in the United States , and other countries, such as France, it was well-known that women were not subject to the same accountability in cases of homicide in which the victim was male as members of the opposite sex were. That women had a “license to kill” was recognized by a large number of juries. Chicago was the most notorious of all cities in the us for this chivalric practice of routinely allowing women who kill to go free with little or no punishment. Such was the situation in this period that those cases in which a woman was actually found guilty and given a sentence appropriate the her homicidal crime that it was, in itself, a newsworthy topic.

The case of murderess Paulette Saludes, is one of these. she was found guilty of murder despite her pleading “emotional insanity,” the standard procedure for murderesses expecting to cox the jury into endorsing her right to kill. Mrs. Saludes lawyer stated plainly, according to news reports, that his client’s defense boiled down to that one principle that had such a storied reputation for melting the hearts of juries confronted with deciding the fate of a jealous woman who murdered a man whom she felt had betrayed her. That defenser was: “I am a woman.”



FULL TEXT: New York, March 8. – For the third time within a few weeks, the defense “I am a woman” has failed in a murder trial in New York and vicinity, and today Mrs. Paulette Saludes, pretty French woman of thirty, is lying in the Tombs awaiting a sentence of from 20 years to life imprisonment for the killing of Oscar M. Marttelliere, insurance broker.

Mrs. Saludes made a spectacular attempt to kill herself by taking arsenic and cutting her wrists as she was led across the Bridge of Sighs after hearing the verdict, but did not hurt herself much, the prison physician decided, later, when she attempted to smash her head against her cell wall, she was bound to her cot. Her condition was not serious, it was reported last night. She was hysterical, however, crying out in French to be permitted to die.

New York had almost become accustomed to seeing women have killed men turned loose. There were Nan Patterson, who was accused of killing Caesar Young; Mrs. Jack DeSaulles, the pretty Chilean, who slew her husband; Mme. Jacques LeBaudy, who killed her mate, “the emperor of the Sahara,” and many other cases.

~ Same Old Defense. ~

Mrs. Saludes’ lawyer, who had pleaded “emotional insanity,” the old plea that freed many women in this jurisdiction, stated plainly in his defense that his client’s chief defense was really “I am a woman” inferring that a woman whose love has been scorned and trampled by a man, as Mrs. Saludes claimed had been done to her by Martelliere, should not be held responsible for killing him.

While the pretty little French woman stood up unflinchingly, at first, to hear the verdict against her, another woman, the widow, holding tightly to her flaxen haired six year old daughter, who had been made an orphan by Mrs. Saludes’ pistol, slumped down and cried, but looked pityingly at the convicted woman as she was led away to the Tombs. Mrs. Marteilliere would not talk about the verdict.

New York has shown unusual interest in the Saludes trial, both because of its spectacular and dramatic incidents and also by reason of the recent conviction of murder of two other women who killed men. They were Mrs. Lillian Reizen, who killed Dr. Abraham Glickstein, in Brooklyn, and Mrs. Ivy Gilberson, who killed her husband at Tom’s River, N. J. The city now looks forward to the trial of Mrs. Mary Wells, pretty housekeeper at the Massapaqua Inn on Long Island, who is charged with killing Captain James Pettit, proprietor of the inn.

[“Woman Slayer Takes Poison – Mrs. Salaudes’ Attempt At Suicide Fails. – Found Guilty of Broker’s Murder – Also Cuts Wrists And Beats Head On Cell Wall.” Syndicated (Universal Services), The Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, Io.), Mar. 8, 1923, p. 1]

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