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Justice for All, but not necessarily Liberty…

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Twenty five years ago this month, Holly Maddux was murdered and stuffed in a trunk. Jury selection began yesterday for the trial of the man who had that trunk in his apartment for two years. After twenty five years of delaying tactics, Ira Einhorn is finally on trial.

I met the victim’s sister ten years ago. Mary Maddux was playing guitar and singing in a Houston based Celtic duo, Ceili’s Muse. I liked her fingerpicking style, her sense of humor, and the intimate feeling she brought to shows. She was smart and funny and I ended up working for her band.

It was years before I found out that her sister was murdered by an escaped fugitive. It’s not like it was something she spoke about much. It wasn’t a part of the show, of course. But it was very much a part of Mary. It was unfinished business in her life. Nobody wants their sister to have a role as victim on Unsolved Mysteries.

It didn’t stop her from touring. She went to Ireland every year on a working vacation. Ira turned up there twice and Mary would sometimes talk about what would happen if she found him while on vacation. I thought it was harmless fantasizing.

It looked like the system had failed the Madduxes. I always expected that the case wouldn’t be solved. Twenty years is a long time and Ira was pretty well hidden.

I was gratified and surprised when the news came in 1997, after Mary had left the band, after sixteen years as a fugitive, that Ira Einhorn had been captured in France.

That it took another five years to bring him into a Philadelphia courtroom to face the charges is a tribute to his ability to game the system.

I have watched the current coverage and the family says they got their closure when Einhorn was brought back to Philadelphia to stand trial. I’m glad they feel that way, but I hope that Ira is convicted, because I think they’ll be hit pretty hard if he isn’t.

The two or three investigators who kept pushing this long-dusty case and who persisted when they could have quit really made a difference, which is not something everyone can say about their careers.

Holly Maddux deserves justice. The system shouldn’t ignore some guy killing his girlfriend. It doesn’t matter that her family was from Tyler, Texas and Einhorn was a prominent counter-culture figure. The tragedy isn’t the loss to the world of the brilliance of Einhorn–that’s self-inflicted. The tragedy is that this girl was murdered.

Ira Einhorn deserves justice. For Ira, it should be a fair shot to explain why he’s spent the last 20+ years acting guilty, to prove that he did not murder Holly, to be judged by a jury of his peers, and to spend the rest of his life incarcerated if he is convicted. Personally, I expect that he will be.

And, for Mary and her sisters and brother, I hope that this really does bring closure. The trial cannot bring back their sister, but they deserve justice, too. They’ve waited a long time for it.

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