Sometimes, crimes are committed with accomplices and both duos are sentenced to death. In this article, you will learn about two sets of criminals that have controversial trials and circumstances associated with their cases.
Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Following an armed robbery that took place in 1920, Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were convicted of killing two men and eventually sentenced to die by electric chair. The trial that took place was quite controversial and involved a series of appeals, protests, as well as attempts to scare and kill jurors. The two Italian immigrants were anarchists that fueled a historical debate as to whether or not the men were innocent or guilty. Some question if their trial was fair and that contradictory evidence should have led to establishing their innocence.
Up until the day they died, people voiced their opinions on the matter. A bomb exploded at the home of one of the jurors in the case. The day before the date of execution, more than 20,000 protesters assembled on Boston Commons.
Sacco and Vanzetti refused to see a priest several times while they sat in their cells at the Charlestown State Prison. They swore to their innocence until the day they died with one of them reading a statement proclaiming their innocence. The men were executed on August 23, 1927. After their executions, death masks were made. Following their deaths, violent demonstrations took place in many cities, including London, Paris and Tokyo. More than 10,000 mourners viewed Sacco and Vanzetti in open caskets over the course of two days. A two-hour funeral procession followed.
Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
An infamous case and execution of the Rosenbergs hit headlines during the 1950s, as married couple Ethel and Julius Rosenberg was American communists convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage during a time of war. The Rosenbergs were charged with passing information to the Soviet Union regarding the atomic bomb. The case made history because it was the first time that an execution of civilians for espionage took place in the history of the United States.
After the Rosenbergs were convicted of their crimes and sentenced to death, the couple had to be transferred to Sing Sing for their execution because the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons did not operate an electric chair.
At sundown, the Rosenbergs were executed in the electric chair on June 19, 1953. Julius died after the first series of electrocutions, but Ethel did not. After the initial round of electrocutions, attendants removed the straps and other equipment to have doctors assess her body, and Ethel’s heart was still beating. It took three courses of electrocution for her to die. An eyewitness account stated that while in the chamber, smoke rose from her head.
While Julius was later proven in the 1990s to have been a courier and recruiter for the Soviets, the level of Ethel’s involvement still remains shadowy to this day.