Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

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

The prosecution and those authors who have supported part or all of its case have always contended that Sacco and Vanzetti were part of a larger conspiracy whose members they had identified, even though the other bandits escaped arrest and conviction. The defense, on the other hand, believed by 1926 that it had identified the real perpetrators of the crime, the Morelli gang of Providence, Rhode Island, and research into the Morelli hypothesis continued long after Sacco and Vanzetti's execution. Here again new evidence allows for a reevaluation of both of these theories.

In his opening statement Assistant District Attorney Harold Williams implicated Coacci and Boda definitely and Orciani more vaguely in the crime. The jury was shown the house at Puffer's Place where Boda and Coacci had lived, and Katzmann in his closing argument stressed that the abandoned Buick had been found less than two miles away from it. In a sense this was logical. Stewart in late April and early May of I920 had begun suspecting the anarchists after Coacci's precipitous departure on 16 April, and he had really been after Boda on the night of 5 May. But it seems almost impossible, for various reasons, that Orciani or Coacci took part in the South Braintree murder and robbery. Boda is a slightly more suspicious figure.

We have seen, to begin with, that while Orciani was apprehended and actually identified by witnesses as having been present at South Braintree he was released in May 1920 because the pay sheets at the Norwood foundry where he worked showed that he had been there on that day. 1 The prosecution never believed this evidence, and Katzmann made clear to the Lowell Committee in 1927 that he did not believe that Orciani himself had punched the clock. 2 It must, however, be assumed that the prosecution went to the factory to find whether Orciani might have put such a subterfuge across on 15 April and found no evidence that he did. Several decades later a joumalist, Thomas O'Connor, recalled that the Plympton Foundry where Orciani worked employed only twenty or twenty-five men and that they had fiercely resisted efforts by the prosecution to break down his alibi. 3 According to Robert D'Attilio, Orciani was an active anarchist of long standing who had known Sacco in Milford and whose name had appeared in the Cronaca Sovversiva. 4

Mike Boda was of all known associates of Sacco and Vanzetti the

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Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti


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