Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

By William Young; David E. Kaiser | Go to book overview

9

Bullet III

Three pieces of physical evidence were introduced against Sacco; two can be dealt with relatively quickly. First, the prosecution introduced a cap. Fred Loring, a Slater and Morrill employee, testified at the trial that he had found a cap lying near Berardelli's body immediately after the shooting; he identified the cap as one introduced at the trial. Sacco's employer, George Kelley, said that the cap in evidence was similar in color to one Sacco had customarily worn, and the prosecution argued that a tear in the lining had occurred when Sacco hung his cap on a nail at work. 1 Kelley is one witness who altered his testimony in a sense favorable to the defense. In an interview with Stewart earlier in June 1921—a full year, it should be noted, after Sacco's arrest—he appeared to recognize the cap. 2

Posttrial testimony, however, stripped the cap of any evidentiary value. Loring had stated at the trial that he had given the cap to Thomas Fraher, the Slater and Morrill superintendent. Fraher was called to the stand two days later, but the prosecution did not ask him to confirm Loring's story. In December 1921 several Slater and Morrill employees told a defense investigator that Loring had said that he did not find the cap. 3 Six years later Jerome Gallivan, the recently retired police chief of Braintree, told the Lowell Committee that Fraher, on 17 April—two days after the crime—had given him a cap that an employee had found on the ground the previous night. Subsequently the defense found an item in the Boston Herald of 17 April 1920 that confirmed this exactly. A story datelined 16 April in the Boston Globe of 17 April confirms that the cap was found on the sixteenth. Furthermore, Gallivan told the Lowell Committee, he had himself made the tear in the lining while looking for a name or other identifying mark inside the cap. 4 Obviously the cap had no evidentiary value whatever. Literally hundreds of workers had come out of the factories immediately after the crime, and the odds against the cap having belonged to one of the bandits were astronomical. Given that the prosecution knew, or could have found out, the true history of the cap and that they concealed it by failing to ask Fraher about it, the cap stands as yet another piece of evidence of prosecution misconduct. 5

The second piece of evidence against Sacco relates to the thirty-two bullets introduced at the trial as having been found in Sacco's gun and in

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