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Ruth Snyder-Judd Gray Trial: 1927

"it Don't Look Right", "what About Judd Gray?", While Lorraine Was In The Elevators

Defendants: Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: For Ruth Snyder: Edgar F. Hazleton and Dana Wallace; For Judd Gray: Samuel L. Miller and William J. Millard
Chief Prosecutor: Richard E. Newcombe
Judge: Townsend Scudder
Place: Long Island City, Queens, New York
Dates of Trial: April 27-May 9, 1927
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Death by electrocution

SIGNIFICANCE: In a macabre way, the verdict and sentence in Ruth Snyder's case was a milestone in progress toward equality of the sexes. As a New York Times editorial summed it up after Governor Al Smith denied clemency to Ruth Snyder: "Equal suffrage has put women in a new position. If they are equal with men before the law, they must pay the same penalties as men for transgressing it." It was also significant that the two defendants, each of whom had confessed and tried to shift the burden of guilt to the other, were tried together, so that each was crossexamined by the other as well as by the State—a procedure labeled "novel and dangerous" by Ruth Snyder's attorney.

Nine-year-old Lorraine Snyder slept late on Sunday morning, March 20, 1927. She had gone to bed at 1:45 A.M. when she came home with her parents from a bridge party. Long after her usual 7:30 rising time, she was awakened by her mother, whom she found lying on the floor, her feet tied together, and her wrists tied. Her mother said burglars had knocked her out and tied her up, leaving her in the next room. After coming to, she had wriggled into Lorraine's room. Lorraine's father was dead.

The police found Albert Snyder in bed, smelling of chloroform. His head was bludgeoned, and picture wire was tied around his neck. The house had been ransacked. Bureau drawers were empty, their contents strewn everywhere. And Ruth Snyder claimed jewelry was missing. The house had already been robbed three times in the past year.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940