The story of George Revelle reads like it could have been conceived by George Orwell. It’s the tale of a man’s nightmarish ordeal, involving technology, bureaucracy - and murder.
Revelle expected protection for himself and his family when he had a security system installed in his Fremont Hills, Mo., home. But what the 40-year-old banker had no way of knowing was that the alarm would eventually be used against him.
Suddenly, this respected member of the community and the town mayor was accused of murdering his own wife, and the chief source of incrimination was his alarm system.
The Revelle case is perhaps the only one on record where an alarm system was the primary component in the conviction and acquittal of an accused murderer.
The crime, conviction, appeal, retrial and acquittal comprise a fascinating real-life drama.
The incident in question occurred at 4:57 a.m. on Sept. 28, 1994, when, according to Revelle, he heard beeping coming from the keypad of his alarm system. He claimed that, before he could get to the gun he owned, one of two masked intruders put a gun to his wife’s head and said, “Turn the alarm off banker George or I’ll blow her head off!”
Revelle later testified that, while he was attempting to deactivate the alarm, he heard a gunshot and then the alarm sounded. He said the intruders fled before police arrived on the scene. His wife, Lisa, was rushed to the hospital, where she died a short time later from a gunshot wound to her head.
The First Trial
In his trial, Revelle’s version of the crime was refuted by an investigation of the alarm system. The jury found Revelle guilty and recommended he be sentenced to life in prison.
It all looked pretty bleak for Revelle when he hired Missouri-based attorney Shawn Askinosie in March 1996 to appeal his conviction.
Askinosie says it became apparent during his review of the trial that Revelle was the victim of a rush to judgment and that the alarm system evidence was suspect.
Enter the Alarm Expert
Since the alarm system was to be the heart of the defense, Askinosie needed to retain the services of an expert in the field. He took to the Internet and came up with Jeffrey Zwirn.
The Plot Thickens
The defense was set to go when its momentum was briefly stymied in October 1998 after Revelle’s new day in court was declared a mistrial. The judge determined that jurors were talking with each other regarding the case.
The Second Trial
Bolstered by Askinosie’s rock-solid defense strategy and Zwirn’s illuminative investigation, Revelle’s new shot at freedom began Thursday, Dec. 3, 1998 in Waynesville, Mo.
Zwirn told the jury that his investigation had uncovered “serious defects and irregularities in the design, installation and programming of the Revelle’s alarm system.”
On the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 11, the jury deliberated for approximately six hours before emerging with their verdict: NOT GUILTY.
So just who did murder Lisa Revelle? The world may never know.
The unique, high-profile case of George Revelle has many implications for the security industry. Dealers must take measures every step of the way to make certain their systems are properly designed, installed, programmed and monitored.