Huey Long was a brutal politician who destroyed his opposition. Nothing stood in his way. He built a powerful machine that could possibly have concealed the real cause of his death. The period was ripe for Long’s assassination. In 1935, Huey was anxious to run for president against Roosevelt. Although Huey had been an earlier supporter of the president, Long turned against him. There was much acrimony between the two politicians.
Throughout the state, employees were forced to contribute to Long. State troopers were forced to deduct 10 percent of their salary. Politics were brutal. Calls for his removal either at the ballot box or by gun were rampant.
The brutal methods of the Long machine caused much dissention throughout Louisiana. In St. Landry Parish, Judge Benjamin Pavy defeated Long’s candidate. As punishment, Long then changed Pavy’s district, placing his home in Lafayette Parish.
A previous “Les Vieux Temps” article discussed events in St. Landry Parish and the assassination of the senator/governor by Dr. Carl Weiss Jr. The press claimed he did it. So do textbooks. Dr. Pavy believes otherwise. I have heard the theory of the killing of Long by a bodyguard before, but not presented in such detail as has Donald Pavy.
Certainly Weiss was an easy target on which to blame the killing because he was the son-in-law of Judge Pavy and was present when Long was shot and he did hit Huey on the lip with his fist just prior to the killing.
There are some reasons to believe the historians’ version of Long’s assassination. But a coroner’s hearing, a week after the killing, produced only pro-Long witnesses who swore that Weiss approached Long, said not a word, and shot him in the abdomen. The star witness, Chief-Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court John Fournet, swore he was standing next to Long, and he pushed the gun down preventing a direct shot to the heart. Abdominal surgery was performed and Long died 30 hours after being shot.
How credible were the witnesses? Should Weiss be vindicated? The Pavy and Weiss family believe that the hearing was biased, and that a person is innocent until proven guilty by his peers in a court of law. They contend that Weiss only hit Long on the lip, and had no gun at the scene.
A star witness later said, “It appears to me that all of the actions following the shooting were a conspiracy to cover up the accidental death of Sen. Long and the killing of Dr. Weiss.”
Pavy questions why it took 50 years for the truth to surface, “Can this evidentiary debacle, which included no physical or scientific evidence other than the body of Dr. Weiss, be accepted as proof of anything?”
Next week’s article will detail some of Pavy’s arguments that Dr. Weiss was not the assassin and that the shooting was done by one of Long’s bodyguards.
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