Did Haden’s mother think Bill was innocent or guilty?
1. Mrs Clarke initially thought Haden had committed suicide because of the suicide notes and because of his financial problems, which he had talked to her about on the day Bill returned to Miami. She believed Bill when he looked her in the eye and told her that he didn’t shoot Haden.
2. However, she changed her mind after Dr Deederer told her that he had found evidence suggesting that Haden had been beaten before he was shot. As this information wasn’t brought out during the trial, it is clear that the autopsy proved that the fractures in Haden’s skull were not evidence of a beating but of the gas explosions inside his head caused by the close contact gunshot. If the autopsy had not been conducted, this suggestion of a beating would have been deadly for Bill.
3. After the jury reached its verdict, Haden’s mother told the press: ‘We expected this verdict. We have no fault to find with the jury or prosecutor.’ (She wasn’t happy with the defence attorney, though, because he took her to task for failing to visit the dying Haden in hospital.) Mrs Clarke, of all people, knew her son’s character attributes and failings and chose not to defend him by testifying. She must also have known that he didn’t have a university degree, which presumably provided confirmation for her of Bill’s truthfulness when he spoke of their heart-to-heart conversation that last night. Additionally, she probably knew Chubbie well enough by then to know her likely reaction to revelations of Haden’s dishonesty.
4. Although the state had charged Bill with premeditated murder, Hawthorne in his closing argument asked the jury to decide if Bill killed Haden Clarke or if Clarke committed suicide. That being the case, the verdict of ‘not guilty’ indicated in practical terms that Haden’s mother also accepted the death as a suicide.
Haden’s mother thought Bill was innocent of Haden’s death.