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Allison Williams: ‘Constitution’s First Trial’

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Actress Allison Williams chatted with CBS News this Monday about her new podcast. It’s all about the very first murder trial ever recorded in U.S. history.

Allison not only stars in this six-part true-crime podcast, “Erased: The Murder of Elma Sands,” but she’s also the boss behind the scenes.

She calls it “a historical podcast set in modern language,” kind of like a radio drama.

The podcast’s story revolves around 22-year-old Elma Sands. Poor Elma was found in a Manhattan well on January 2, 1800, after vanishing on December 22, 1799.

Her boyfriend, Levi Weeks, found himself in hot water, accused of her murder. And guess who defended him in court? None other than the famous Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

Allison Flom, the brains and voice behind the podcast, joined Williams for the chat. Turns out, Flom stumbled upon this case while working as a tour guide in New York.

It’s now a fancy clothes shop’s basement in SoHo.

“So, I’m standing in this clothing store,” Flom said. “I see people around trying on sweaters and slacks, and mannequins everywhere, wanting to just scream, like, ‘Someone was killed here!’ Like, why doesn’t anyone know? Why doesn’t anyone care?”

Flom shared with CBS News that going through the trial’s transcripts made something clear to her. She realized, “our system was set up to do exactly what it did in this trial, which was to erase whoever is inconvenient for consolidation of money and connections and power.”

And it’s still like that now, she said. “I wanted to write it like 2023 because it felt like 2023.”

Flom mentioned that Williams, who’s passionate about reforming criminal justice, really got the importance of the story. She helped take it to levels Flom never imagined.

Talking to CBS News, Williams said that working on the podcast really opened her eyes to how messed up America’s justice system is today. She looked at the first real use of the Constitution in a murder trial, which she described as a “a test drive.” This could have either kept things as they were or helped blend the nation’s diverse culture.

“And of course, we know the way it was created,” Williams noted. She added, “So I guess it just gave me context for what was broken from the beginning and has just deteriorated more and more over time.”

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