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Alice Crimmins Trials: 1968 & 1971

Trial Begins Three Years Later, Observed From Above, A New Trial, Suggestions For Further Reading

Defendant: Alice Crimmins
Crimes Charged: First trial, murder; Second trial, murder and manslaughter
Chief Defense Attorneys: First trial: Marty Baron and Harold Harrison; Second trial: William Erlbaum and Herbert Lyon.
Chief Prosecutors: First trial: Anthony Lombardino and James Mosely; Second trial: Thomas Demakos and Vincent Nicolosi.
Judges: First trial: Peter Farrell; second trial: George Balbach
Place: New York, New York
Dates of Trials: First trial: May 9-27, 1968; second trial: March 15—April 23, 1971
Verdicts: Guilty
Sentences: First trial: 5 to 20 years; second trial: life plus five to 20 years.

SIGNIFICANCE: Appeals in this sensational New York case led to a ruling that courtroom errors are only prejudicial when there is a strong probability they have influenced a jury's verdict.

To millions of New Yorkers, Alice Crimmins was a tramp responsible for an unspeakable crime. To others, Crimmins was a victim of what one of her lawyers called "trial by innuendo," a woman persecuted for her defiant anger at a justice system more concerned with her social behavior than in solving the murder of her children.

On the morning of July 14, 1965, Edmund Crimmins reported that his two children were missing from the Queens apartment where they lived with his estranged wife Alice. Police searched the neighborhood, hoping to find 5-yearold Eddie Crimmins, Jr., and 4-year-old Alice Marie "Missy" Crimmins alive. In early afternoon, Missy's dead body was found in a vacant lot.

The ground-floor window of the children's room was open, but police were more interested in Alice Crimmins' reputation as a "swinger." Faced with a dearth of physical evidence, detectives felt that her sexual affairs and her failure to break into tears immediately upon viewing her daughter's body made her a suspect.

Both parents endured intense police questioning about their broken marriage. A court hearing over custody of the children was to have started on July 19. Instead, the badly decomposed body of Eddie Jr. was found that day in scrub near the busy Van Wyck Expressway.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972