Episode 3 // Elma Sands: America's First Murder Trial

From journalist Amber Hunt and the Obsessed Network


When a 22-year-old woman living with relatives in a boarding house disappeared on Dec. 22, 1799, her loved ones didn't immediately worry. But when she still hadn't returned days later, all eyes turned to her lover -- whom she'd supposedly been set to marry the last time she was seen alive. Levi Weeks came from a family with money, so his rich brother did something that was unheard of at this point in American history: He hired fancy lawyers. And that's how Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr ended up on the same side defending a man against murder charges in 1800.


The case, referenced in Lin Manuel Miranda's award-winning musical "Hamilton," marks two firsts: The defense panel was America's first legal Dream Team, and the Weeks' case was the first recorded murder trial in the country's history.


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