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Dorothy Egan


Charles Boverson


San


Summerland. Kirkes’ wife’s maiden name was Beckstead and police were investigating all leads. But authorities most likely began canvassing rural areas, questioning anyone they could for information. Other Carpinterians had seen something— plenty—in the days surrounding the homicide. But if Kirkes was the guilty party, his actions, and witness accounts, wouldn’t come to light until nearly a decade later.


It wasn’t until after returning to Carpinteria in 1945 from serving during World War II that Ross’ suspicions against Kirkes—commended for an exceptional Alaskan stint with the Red Cross—came closer to prosecution. Apparently, when Kirkes found himself under arrest on an unrelated moral charge of child molestation in September 1950, Ross, having been promoted to sheriff of Santa Barbara County, saw it as his opportunity to pin the Senteney murder on him. Now that he was in custody, a remarkable influx of once-silent witnesses began pouring in, swearing that Kirkes was the killer. One witness,


Charles Boverson, told authorities that he was the man Kirkes asked to


The Carpinteria woman said she saw Margaret Senteney get into Kirkes’ car that fateful August day in 1942, eight long years prior.


In 1951 a jury convicted Leonard Kirkes of second degree murder and sentenced him to five years to life in prison.


RETRIAL APPROVED While in San Quentin prison, the ex-patrolman


maintained his innocence. According to an anonymous source, Kirkes disclosed his story to an inmate. An interview with Daniel Corral Sr., Kirkes’ supposed cellmate, was declined to “Carpinteria Magazine.”


KIRKES’ CAR, a 1939 Ford, was a big link in the evidence. At a filling station shortly after the crime he was seen to clean out the trunk (above) with an air hose. Not satisfied with this, he then had the inside of the trunk painted. And, the compartment’s rubber floor mat was nowhere to be found.


hastily repaint his car, despite Boverson’s response that the car didn’t need it.


Another, Amilcaero Fogliadini, an elderly Italian farmer, claimed that he spotted Kirkes’ Ford in a field near the crime scene the day of Senteney’s death. Murder charges were pressed; the case came to trial, and Boverson and Fogliadini provided solid testimony. But evidence of Kirkes’ smoking gun came from key witness Dorothy Egan.


Kirkes did not spend his time idling in jail and quickly appealed his case. The ex-patrolman in 1952 was approved a retrial first denied him when the deputy district attorney at Kirkes’ original trial was accused of misconduct during his closing argument. The bias he displayed might negatively have influenced the guilty verdict placed on the patrolman.


Specifically, D.A. Weldon’s courtroom behavior was assessed after he intimated to members of the jury that


he was assured of Kirkes’ guilt prior to the beginning of legal proceedings, before any formal evidence had ever been presented.


Trial transcripts quoted Weldon as saying, “I knew prior to the time that I became associated in this particular prosecution in the month of October, that this particular defendant was guilty of this particular offense.”


32 CARPINTERIAMAGAZINE


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