Ronald Wilson Reagan (Part 82) (1981 Orsini McArthur murder case Part 6)

Picture of Nancy and Ronald Reagan at the Stork Club in New York City.
(Picture from the Ronald Reagan Library)

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the “Stork Club” in New York City. (Early 1950s)

From Oct. 28, 1980, here is part 2 of the Carter-Reagan Presidential Debate, as taped from CBS. Amazing how things have changed…and yet stayed the same…in almost 30 years!!!
I never imagined that I would be posting Ronald Wilson Reagan part 82 today when I first started it around Feb 6 which was Reagan’s 100th birthday, but the response has been so overwhelming that I must keep this series going. Just today I saw a clip called “The Reagan Revolution” which is a cartoon that teaches kids about our past history. Jason Tolbert reported that Mike Huckabee is involved in putting this series together and I like the idea a lot.
Oct 21, 1984 Presidential Debate President Reagan v. Walter Mondale

Eastern Europe

MR. KALB: A related question, Mr. Mondale, on Eastern Europe. Do you accept the conventional diplomatic wisdom that Eastern Europe is a Soviet sphere of influence? And if you do, what could a Mondale administration realistically do to help the people of Eastern Europe achieve the human rights that were guaranteed to them as a result of the Helsinki accords?

MR. MONDALE: I think the essential strategy of the United States ought not accept any Soviet control over Eastern Europe. We ought to deal with each of these countries separately. We ought to pursue strategies with each of them, economic and the rest, that help them pull away from their dependence upon the Soviet Union.

Where the Soviet Union has acted irresponsibly, as they have in many of those countries, especially, recently, in Poland, I believe we ought to insist that Western credits extended to the Soviet Union bear the market rate. Make the Soviets pay for their irresponsibility. That is a very important objective — to make certain that we continue to look forward to progress toward greater independence by these nations and work with each of them separately.

MR. NEWMAN: Mr. President, your rebuttal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I’m not going to continue trying to respond to these repetitions of the falsehoods that have already been stated here. But with regard to whether Mr. Mondale would be strong, as he said he would be, I know that he has a commercial out where he’s appearing on the deck of the Nimitz and watching the F – 14’s take off. And that’s an image of strength — except that if he had had his way when the Nimitz was being planned, he would have been deep in the water out there because there wouldn’t have been any Nimitz to stand on — he was against it. [Laughter]

He was against the F – 14 fighter, he was against the M – 1 tank, he was against the B – 1 bomber, he wanted to cut the salary of all of the military, he wanted to bring home half of the American forces in Europe. And he has a record of weakness with regard to our national defense that is second to none.


THE PRESIDENT: Indeed, he was on that side virtually throughout all his years in the Senate. And he opposed even President Carter, when toward the end of his term President Carter wanted to increase the defense budget.

MR. NEWMAN: Mr. Mondale, your rebuttal.

MR. MONDALE: Mr. President, I accept your commitment to peace, but I want you to accept my commitment to a strong national defense. [Applause] I propose a budget — I have proposed a budget which would increase our nation’s strength, in real terms, by double that of the Soviet Union.

I’ll tell you where we disagree. It is true over 10 years ago I voted to delay production of the F – 14, and I’ll tell you why. The plane wasn’t flying the way it was supposed to be; it was a waste of money.

Your definition of national strength is to throw money at the Defense Department. My definition of national strength is to make certain that a dollar spent buys us a dollar’s worth of defense. There’s a big difference between the two of us. A President must manage that budget. I will keep us strong, but you’ll not do that unless you command that budget and make certain we get the strength that we need. You pay $500 for a $5 hammer, you’re not buying strength.

MR. NEWMAN: I would ask the audience not to applaud. All it does is take up time that we would like to devote to the debate.

Mr. Kondracke, your question to Mr. Mondale.
Use of Military Force

MR. KONDRACKE: Mr. Mondale, in an address earlier this year you said that before this country resorts to military force, and I’m quoting, “American interests should be sharply defined, publicly supported, congressionally sanctioned, militarily feasible, internationally defensible, open to independent scrutiny, and alert to regional history.” Now, aren’t you setting up such a gauntlet of tests here that adversaries could easily suspect that as President you would never use force to protect American interests?

MR. MONDALE: No. As a matter of fact, I believe every one of those standards is essential to the exercise of power by this country. And we can see that in both Lebanon and in Central America.

In Lebanon, this President exercised American power, all right, but the management of it was such that our marines were killed, we had to leave in humiliation, the Soviet Union became stronger, terrorists became emboldened. And it was because they did not think through how power should be exercised, did not have the American public with them on a plan that worked, that we ended up the way we did.

Similarly, in Central America: What we’re doing in Nicaragua with this covert war — which the Congress, including many Republicans, have tried to stop — is finally end up with a public definition of American power that hurts us, where we get associated with political assassins and the rest. We have to decline, for the first time in modern history, jurisdiction in the World Court because they’ll find us guilty of illegal actions. And our enemies are strengthened from all of this.

We need to be strong, we need to be prepared to use that strength, but we must understand that we are a democracy. We are a government by the people, and when we move, it should be for very severe and extreme reasons that serve our national interests and end up with a stronger country behind us. It is only in that way that we can persevere.

It has been 150 years since the beginning of the Civil War that started in April of 1861 at Ft Sumter.

Siege of Petersburg


Soldiers in the trenches before battle, Petersburg, Va., 1865.

Photograph Courtesy of the National Archives & Records



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mary Lee Orsini

On July 2, 1982, in the late afternoon, the victim was found shot to death in her western Little Rock home. That afternoon at about 4:20 p.m., a neighbor saw a car with no license plate and with a homemade delivery sign in the window pull into the victim’s driveway. She observed a black man, carrying flowers, emerge from the car and hand the flowers to the victim. The black man was Larry McClendon, one of the accomplices. She then saw the driver of the car, a white male, get out of the car and walk toward the door. The white male was Eugene “Yankee” Hall, the other accomplice. Later she saw the two men drive away. At trial she identified McClendon’s car as the one she had seen. Shortly thereafter the victim’s husband arrived home and, being unable to locate his wife, called the police. During a search of the house, the victim’s body was found in an upstairs closet. At the victim’s feet was a flower arrangement. The crime scene investigation [***9] revealed three bullet holes; one in the hallway, one in the closet where the body was found, and one in the body of the victim. The principal witness for the State was Eugene “Yankee” Hall. His testimony about his and appellant’s participation in the murder was corroborated by the testimony of various witnesses and physical evidence found at the scene of the bombing and the scene of the shooting. Hall testified that he had met appellant in the Spring of 1982 and had spent several nights at her house. During the following weeks the [**249] two of them conspired to kill Alice McArthur. In May of 1982 he and appellant purchased an explosive contained in a shampoo bottle, made a bomb, and placed it in the victim’s car where it exploded without seriously injuring her. Parts of a shampoo bottle containing the high explosive Torvex were recovered from the bomb scene at the McArthur home. Two witneses identified appellant as the woman who accompanied Hall when he [*353] bought the explosive. They identified appellant’s automobile as the vehicle in which the pair was traveling. Evidence introduced at trial reflected that a telephone call made to the seller of the explosive [***10] from a bait shop on the day of the purchase was billed to appellant’s telephone number. Another witness testified that appellant had told her several days before the bombing incident that a bombing would occur.Hall stated that, after the bombing failed to kill Mrs. McArthur, he agreed with appellant to a contract murder of the victim for $ 25,000 to be paid by the victim’s husband, the trigger to be pulled by Larry McClendon. Appellant gave him $ 325 for expenses. Hall testified that appellant agreed to obtain the murder weapon. Circumstantial evidence corroborated Hall’s testimony that the murder weapon was obtained by appellant. A ballistics expert testified that the three bullets were fired from a short barreled revolver and were a unique Federal type bullet manufactured between 1956 and 1975. Dr. Wulz, a witness for appellant, stated that he and appellant had been engaged in a continuing romantic relationship for several years and that he had owned an eleven or twelve year old .38 caliber revolver. He further testified that he discovered the pistol was missing about a week prior to the murder. The ballistics expert testified that the three bullets retrieved from the crime [***11] scene were the same type as those in a box of shells which Wulz had kept at home and had delivered to the prosecutor Hall further testified that appellant had devised the scheme for him and Larry McClendon to pose as a florist delivery service and that appellant had made the florist delivery sign. Hall testified that on the day of the murder he and McClendon went to Phillips Wrecker Service in North Little Rock to get the florist delivery sign out of a car that he had been driving. An employee of the wrecker service corroborated this fact. Hall testified that on the day of the murder he purchased a flower arrangement and removed the license plate from McClendon’s car before putting the floral delivery sign in the car window. An employee of Leroy’s Florist at Cantrell and Kavanaugh in Little Rock testified that she prepared the flower arrangement found at the [*354] murder scene. Before Hall picked up the flower arrangement, he telephoned appellant, and appellant telephoned the victim’s residence to make sure she was home. Evidence was introduced to corroborate Hall’s testimony that appellant telephoned the victim the afternoon of the murder. The record reflects that a [***12] tracing device, or trap, along with a microcassette tape recorder, had been placed on the McArthur telephone. A transcription of the telephone tape recovered from the home the day of the murder established that a telephone call made to the victim at 1:59 p.m. had been made from appellant’s residence. The caller asked for “Mama.” Two witnesses identified the voice of the caller as the voice of appellant. This corroborated Hall’s testimony that appellant telephoned the victim the afternoon of the murder to determine if she was home. Soon after the telephone call to appellant’s home, appellant drove by Hall and McClendon on her way to a pre-arranged appointment with her attorney, Bill McArthur, the victim’s husband. Two witnesses from the McArthur law firm testified appellant had made an appointment for 4:00 that afternoon. As she passed Hall and McClendon, she got a go ahead sign from Hall. After the murder, Hall threw the gun and florist sign in the Arkansas River. He then telephoned appellant who told him she had been unable to get the payoff money that day. Within a few days after the murder, appellant told Larry Burge, an acquaintance, that she had received an anonymous [***13] telephone [**250] tip that Larry McClendon had killed Alice McArthur. At appellant’s request, Burge relayed this information anonymously to the sheriff, who verified receiving it. The next day appellant again contacted Burge, telling him she had received more information about the murder and had made notes on this information. The notes were written down on yellow pieces of paper. At appellant’s request Burge agreed to pose as an anonymous caller and relate to her the information she had written down. Burge made the call, naming McClendon as the man who fired the gun and stating that McClendon had been seen with a white man earlier in the day. Appellant tape recorded this message and, on the pretext of having received the call from an anonymous source, took the tape to the sheriff. At trial [*355] Burge identified the yellow pages as the notes written in appellant’s handwriting and given to him by her for the purpose of making his call. These three yellow pages were removed from appellant’s person the night she was arrested. Since the staged anonymous call, based on notes prepared by appellant, was information only a person involved in the murder would know, this [***14] evidence corroborated Hall’s testimony that appellant conspired with him to commit murder.


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