Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

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

4

The Prosecution

Had Vanzetti been acquitted in his Plymouth trial, it is quite likely that the murder charges against both him and Sacco would have been dropped. No indictments had yet been brought, and the evidence against the two men for the Braintree murder was not strong. After Vanzetti's conviction, however, the prosecution decided actively to pursue the case. Katzmann now took the murder investigation out of the hands of Captain Proctor and turned it over to Bridgewater Police Chief Michael Stewart. Proctor, the senior police officer in the Commonwealth, had far more experience than Stewart, but Stewart, unlike Proctor, believed in the case against Sacco and Vanzetti. Albert Brouillard, another state policeman, continued to assist Stewart. 1 The defense also made changes not long after. With the death penalty looming over the heads of the two men, Sacco and Vanzetti dropped the services of Vahey and Graham, who had represented them in the preliminary hearings and in Vanzetti's trial. Vanzetti now called upon his friend Carlo Tresca, an anarcho-syndicalist headquartered in New York, and Tresca secured the services of Fred Moore, a leading West Coast radical lawyer with some earlier Massachusetts experience, to take the defense.

On 9 and 10 September 1920 Frederick Katzmann asked a Dedham grand jury to indict Sacco and Vanzetti for murder. The proceedings illustrate the extraordinary latitude that prosecutors still enjoy before grand juries. Evidence against the men remained slim. At the preliminary hearing for Sacco on 26 May, three witnesses out of the more than thirty who saw some part of the South Braintree holdup had said that Sacco resembled one of the bandits they had seen: Lewis Wade, who referred to a man whom he had seen shoot Berardelli, and Mary Splaine and Frances Devlin, who said they had seen a man leaning out of the getaway car. None of them had positively identified him. Now, before the grand jury, Wade positively identified Sacco, and Katzmann badgered and cross-examined Splaine and Devlin until they stated with certainty that Sacco was the man they had seen.

Evidence against Vanzetti was much weaker; Katzmann could not call one witness who placed him at the scene of the crime. The only witnesses against him were John W. Faulkner, who claimed to have seen him alight from a train in East Braintree on the morning of 15 April, and

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Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Postmortem - New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Preface *
  • 1 - Introduction *
  • 2 - Anarchism and the Arrests *
  • 3 - Vanzetti's Plymouth Trial *
  • 4 - The Prosecution *
  • 5 - The Identification Testimony *
  • 6 - The Defendants *
  • 7 - The Alibis *
  • 8 - Vanzetti's Gun *
  • 9 - Bullet III *
  • 10 - How the Frame Occurred *
  • 11 - The Feds *
  • 12 - Alternative Theories *
  • 13 - Conclusion *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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