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Lawyer's father says he reburied body

Attorney accused of murdering wife in a rage 10 years ago

By Emanuella Grinberg
Court TV

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Court TV
Nashville (Tennesse)
Murders

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Court TV) -- The father of a Nashville attorney on trial for killing his wife claims he reburied his murdered daughter-in-law and disposed of evidence relating to her killing.

Defendant Perry March bowed his head at the defense table Saturday as he watched a videotaped deposition of his father, Col. Arthur Wayne March, who described removing Janet March's remains from a plastic bag and burying them off the side of a road.

The elder March said he dug two other holes, one for the plastic bag and one for her clothes, before returning to the Kentucky hotel where his oldest son was sleeping.

"Why did you agree to help your son?" Davidson County Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tom Thurman asked the 78-year-old witness off-camera.

"He's my son," the retired 32-year veteran of the Army responded.

Shallow grave

Prosecutors allege that Perry March killed his 33-year-old wife in a rage in 1996 and buried her body in a shallow grave near their West Tennessee home after she told him of her plans to seek a divorce.

But when March learned that the grave was about to become a construction site, he sought his father's assistance in transporting the body to another location where it would never be found, according to the father, who gave his deposition on April 10 and 11.

Col. March's dislike for his daughter-in-law was apparent in the video.

"Did you get along with her?" Thurman asked.

"The best way I can describe it is, she was a typical JAP ... a Jewish-American princess, and I was not comfortable with her," Col. March said. "Anything she wanted, if she needed it, she went to her father. To my knowledge, Perry was there for show purposes."

Janet March's remains have never been found, despite Col. March's efforts to lead authorities to them as part of a plea agreement with federal and state authorities trying Perry March in his wife's August 1996 disappearance.

The colonel's plea agreement

In the defense opening statement Wednesday, defense attorney William Massey urged jurors to weigh Col. March's credibility against his plea agreement, which spared him a potential 20-year sentence. Instead, he received 18 months with three years of supervised parole.

"In order to keep that 18-month sentence, the government has to prove, under the sentencing guidelines, that you cooperated?" Massey asked.

"That's correct," Col. March responded. "All I was asked to do by the attorney general was to tell the truth and cooperate."

"And who determines whether or not you are being truthful?" Massey pressed.

"The prosecution and the government," said the frail, balding man who was dressed in jailhouse blues.

Col. March testified that he also disposed of a computer hard drive at his son's request before authorities, or the "Gestapo storm troopers," as he termed them, descended upon his son's home on September 17, 1996.

In addition to charges of second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse, the 45-year-old defendant is charged with evidence-tampering stemming from the hard drive's disappearance.

The testimony was a prelude to even more potentially damning evidence against Perry March, who told authorities that his wife packed her bags and stormed out of the house following an argument on August 15, 1996.

Circumstantial case

Col. March also described a murder-for-hire plot against Janet March's parents that he and his son hatched with the help of a jail inmate who was housed with Perry March while he was in custody.

Perry March was convicted in June on the murder conspiracy charges largely because of the testimony of his father and inmate Nathaniel Farris, who was expected to testify Sunday in March's murder trial.

Col. March readily admitted that for many years, he had contemplated killing Janet March's father, Larry Levine, who paid for Perry March's law school tuition, and his wife, Carolyn, whom he described as the "queen of the Jewish mafia."

"They were liars, they were political animals who used her position with the Jewish mafia and his position with the Democratic party to get what they wanted," he said as the Levines sat in the courtroom gallery, chuckling.

With no body or strong forensic evidence linking March to his wife's death, prosecutors have attempted to build a strong circumstantial case based on incriminating statements and actions after the fact.

To that end, prosecutors also showed jurors an excerpt from a murder-mystery novel that Perry March wrote after his wife's disappearance.

In the excerpt from "@Murder.com," which March wrote in 1997, jurors read the thoughts of a detective as he examined the body of a dead woman in her home.

"Violet herself was lying on the smooth pile carpet, crumpled and soft looking. She lay on her back, her left leg tucked beneath her, her head facing the ceiling, hands to her throat, eyes open and bulging. Classic strangulation expression," the manuscript read.

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