Postmortem: New Evidence in the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

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

5

The Identification Testimony

Beginning in January 1921, Stewart, Katzmann, and Assistant District Attorney Harold Williams developed the evidence that they ultimately presented at the Dedham trial. At that trial, which lasted from 31 May to 14 July 1921, the defense was conducted by Fred Moore and two local lawyers, J. J. McAnamey and William Callahan. Assistant District Attorney Williams presented the prosecution's case; Fred Katzmann cross-examined the defense witnesses and made the prosecution's closing argument.

As in Vanzetti's Plymouth trial, the prosecution relied on three kinds of evidence. First, eleven eyewitnesses identified Sacco and Vanzetti as having participated in various stages of the crime. Second, Katzmann argued strongly that Sacco and Vanzetti's behavior on the night of their arrest, and certain falsehoods he claimed they had told him on the day after their arrest, showed consciousness of guilt. Last, with respect to physical evidence, the prosecution claimed that Sacco's Colt had fired one of the bullets taken from Berardelli's body and one of four shells found near the scene of the crime, and that the Harrington and Richardson revolver found on Vanzetti at the time of his arrest had been taken from Berardelli during the robbery. We shall begin with the identification testimony, which consumed by far the most time at the trial.

With the exception of Robert Montgomery, whose book Sacco-Vanzetti: The Murder and the Myth essentially endorsed the prosecution case from top to bottom, previous works on the case have not been especially impressed by the eyewitness evidence against the two men. Many discrepancies in the witnesses' stories emerged during cross-examination, and others became clear when the reports of the Pinkerton investigation were discovered in 1926. 1 Although on the whole eyewitness testimony is too fallible to form the basis for a firm conclusion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendants, an examination of it does reveal a great deal about the way in which the prosecution prepared its case. Previously unavailable prosecution documents also shed new light upon the development of much of the eyewitness testimony. Viewed in light of their original statements, virtually none of the eleven prosecution witnesses emerges as a credible witness.

The South Braintree crime was well observed. The shooting of Parmenter and Berardelli took place in broad daylight, and dozens of people

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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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