Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Trials of John du Pont.

John du Pont, great-great -grandson of  the founder of the world famous chemical company, was one of the wealthiest men in American history to be found guilty of murder.

This past Thursday du Pont was found dead, just before 7 a.m., in his prison cell. He had been serving a 13 to 30 year sentence for the 1996 murder of  Olympic gold medalist wrestler, David Schultz, in 1996.

During my more than 40 years as a television courtroom artist, the du Pont trial was one of the most sensational. Sometimes I take my "Artist's Eye," and envision the view from another part of the courtroom.
In reality, artist Susan Schary and I were  seated in the upper left of this image, drawing furiously.

The month long trial was presided over by Judge Patricia Jenkins.

Most of the psychiatrists testifying agreed  that du Pont suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. During the trial one of the people who worked on his estate told me, "If you're rich, and have mental problems, you're not
considered crazy, just "eccentric."

Those of us who do courtroom art usually find ourselves sitting on the far side of the courtroom, away from the defendant, so we can at least get a "profile." view. As a result we are near the family of the victim.
This is my drawing of the family of David Schultz, who were incredibly stoic, while "bearing witness" for their son and husband, during the trial.

In this close up of an unfinished image, you can see the process I go through to create my paintings. First I rough it all in with pencil, then do the ink drawing with a "Sharpie" pen, followed by watercolor.
About 40 minutes from start to finish. I love trying to capture the ambiance of the really old County

John Du Pont was found guilty of murder, but mentally ill. David Schultz's father said, after the verdict,
"I did forgive the man for what he did. I never forgave the act."


  1. Great job Bill. It is sad to see that ugly page of history again however.

  2. Yes Nancy, how true.
    I've spent many, many hours, days, and weeks hanging out with the "Infamous."
    Brings up the question of the presence of
    "Evil" in the world.
    Or do some people truly have that "Bad Seed,"
    sitting within, germinating?

  3. Gee this looks like a graphic novel in the making to me!
    Very exciting except for the tragic element of the family..
    Lesson learned. Stay aaway from rich eccentrics at all costs.

  4. It would make a great graphic novel.
    But as a father, I cannot bring myself to profit off the death of David Schultz.
    It wouldn't matter 100 years from now.
    There's just something different about illustrating that act of violence, as opposed to reading it.