1 minute read

Sacco-Vanzetli Trial: 1921

Outdated Bullets And A Cap

Opening May 31, 1921, the trial revealed that Sacco had lied about his gun. It was several years old, and his box of "new" cartridges contained a mixture of old bullets that were all obsolete. The bullet that killed Berardelli was so outdated that the state's expert witness could locate none like it with which to test Sacco's gun—except the equally obsolete bullets from Sacco's pocket.

Vanzetti, too, had lied. Although he had said he paid $18 or $19 for it, the jury learned that his was a $5 gun, that Vanzetti had said he bought a new box of cartridges and threw it away when six remained and he put them in the revolver, but that it held only five and those in the gun were not all the same make. And it learned that Vanzetti's nickel-plated pistol was identical to that of the murdered guard, whose gun could not be found after the crime.

Then there was the cap found beside the dead guard. It was not his. Sacco's employer testified that it looked like a cap that Sacco regularly wore. When the prosecutor asked Sacco to put the cap on, the defendant, pulling it down over his ears in trying to prove it was too big, threw the courtroom into giggling hysterics—but the state also put into evidence a cap of exactly the same size, found in Sacco's home. "Some one of you who wears a seven and oneeighth," said Katzmann to the jury, "try them both on. If they are not identically the same size, then so find, so find, gentlemen."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Sacco-Vanzetli Trial: 1921 - A Car To Move Red Literature, Defense Committee Organized, Outdated Bullets And A Cap, Trial For Murder, Nothing Else