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April 5, 1995

The Death of Old Man Rice: A True Story of Criminal Justice in America

Author Affiliations

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Pittsburgh, Pa

JAMA. 1995;273(13):1066-1067. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520370108049

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"One of the most remarkable trials in all history... a gripping tale of murder and intrigue... the influence of the popular press, the purchase of expert witnesses... the issue of the death penalty, and the advantage of wealth."

The O. J. Simpson case, right? Wrong!

The Death of Old Man Rice: A True Story of Criminal Justice in America (book jacket remarks above), by Martin L. Friedland, professor of law at the University of Toronto, relates the controversial circumstances surrounding the death in New York City of William Marsh Rice. The founder of Rice University, he was reputed to be "the wealthiest Texan in the United States" at the time he was found dead in his Berkshire building apartment by his valet on September 23,1900. His personal physician attributed the death of his 84-year-old patient to "Old age and weak heart; immediate cause, indigestion followed by collicqotue [sic] diarrhea with

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