sacco_and_vanzetti_court_case.doc - SACCO AND VANZETTI...

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SACCO AND VANZETTI COURT CASE BACKGROUND: On April 15, 1920, F.A. Parmenter, a shoe factory paymaster, and guard Alessandro Berardelli were murdered in South Braintree, Massachusetts. The two men who fired the shots escaped in a waiting car with more than $15,000. Initially this appeared to be a local story only, not unlike similar incidents elsewhere in America during the often lawless postwar years. Three weeks later, arrests were made and charges brought against two Italian immigrants — Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a fish peddler. VANZETTI SACCO
EVIDENCE CONCERNING SACCO TYPE OF EVIDENCE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE DEFENSE RESPONSE NOTES Eyewitnesss Identification Seven eyewitnesses (Andrews, Tracy, Heron, Pelser, Splaine, Devlin, and Goodridge) placed Sacco in or near Braintree around the time of crime. A few other witnesses testified that Sacco resembled one of the bandits, but declined to make a positive identification. None of the seven eyewitnesses was at all times certain of his or her identification. Andrews and Pelser had told a defense investigator that they could not make an identification. Splaine and Devlin only briefly saw a man leaning out of automobile from a distance of over 70 feet. None of the witnesses identified Sacco until well after his arrest. The witnesses were not required to pick Sacco out a line-up. Several of the closest witnesses to the crime were not able to identify Sacco. (1) Before the Lowell Committee, the police chief of South Braintree expressed surprise that the eyewitnesses seemed much more certain of their indentifications in the trial than they did at the preliminary hearing a year earlier. (2) Years after the trial, an Italian workman said he saw Sacco among the bandits, but he chose not to come forward and testify. Ballistics Evidence One of the recovered bullets could not have been fired from Sacco's Colt automatic. It clearly was fired from someone's Colt. Ballistics expert Proctor testified that "Bullet 3" was "consistent with being fired through [Sacco's] pistol." Expert Van Amburgh noted a scratch on Bullet 3 likely made by a defect in the rifling of Sacco's pistol. Two defense experts (Burns, Fitzgerald) testified that "Bullet 3" could not have been fired from Sacco's Colt. (1) Jurors reported after the trial that they found the ballistics evidence compelling. (2)Prosecution expert Proctor told District Attorney Katzmann prior to trial that he did not believe that "Bullet 3" was fired from Sacco's gun. (3)In 1961, a ballistics test conducted at the Mass. Police Lab suggested that Sacco's Colt was used to fire "Bullet 3." Evidence Relating to Cap A cap with a hole in it picked up at the crime scene resembled one owned by Sacco. The hole might have been produced by a nail at Sacco's workplace on which he he was in the habit of hanging his cap. A witness (Kelley) testified that the cap resembled in color and style a cap owned by Sacco.

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