Fifty Years Ago – Lawyer’s Wife Murdered

September 11, 2006

It was fifty years ago last month that Marilyn Burch Fagan was found dead by her husband on the walkway of their home near rural Gainesville. Her husband, Osee Fagan, the County Prosecutor, was involved in the prosecution of a deaf mute, Philip Singer. Returning home near midnight from a late night at the office, he found his wife’s body in the darkness of their front yard underneath the bright starlit country skies. His young daughter was still sleeping soundly inside the home. Marilyn was not only the wife of the County Prosecutor; she was also a socialite and the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the community. The tale that unfolds as the prosecution of the deaf mute wound its way through the Florida judicial system resulted in the landmark decision of Singer v. State , 109 So. 2d 7 (Fla. 1959) the case which is still the foundation of all jury selection law in the State of Florida. Take a moment to read it, not only to refresh this case in your mind, but also in memory of Marilyn Burch Fagan, the wife of one of our fellow trial lawyers, and also her husband, Osee Fagan, who went on to become a Circuit Judge, and who is now retired and who still lives in Gainesville.

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