Prosecutions Case


You Tube Video
Hauptmann Testifies, Millions Wait 1/30/1935
Woodlawn Cemetery: Location of First Meeting with Kidnapper
Prosecutor, David T. Wilentz
The prosecution's case was built on several powerful circumstantial elements. First, $14,600 of the ransom bills was found hidden in Hauptmann's garage. The defense counter to this was that Hauptmann had indeed hidden this money, but that he had found it in a shoebox left to him by a business partner, Isidor Fisch, who had departed for Germany in December, 1933, leaving the box in Hauptmann's care. Since Fisch owed him money, Hauptmann felt free to spend some of the bills. Fisch died in Liepzig in March, 1934.

Second, the connection of the beam from Hauptmann's attic to the kidnap ladder was carefully laid out by Koehler and the prosecutors. The defense argued that the ladder had gone through many hands since its discovery, and argued that not only was the beam's placement in the ladder upright questionable, but that Officer Bornmann could have planted the evidence. For a time, they argued for its inadmissibility, but Trenchard ruled for the prosecution.

Third, the prosecution brought an array of handwriting experts who testified that the ransom notes were written by Hauptmann, when the writing samples he provided were compared and analyzed. Reilly boasted that he would have as many handwriting experts counter this testimony, but, in fact, he presented only two weak "experts," several others that he had contracted refusing to testify for the defense.

In addition to these important issues, the prosecution brought a number of witnesses who reported seeing Hauptmann, his car with the ladder, near the Lindbergh estate prior to March 1, the night of the kidnapping.
Lindbergh on the Stand, Testifying

Most telling was the positive identification of Hauptmann as "Cemetery John" by Condon, and the testimony of Lindbergh, who said that the voice he had heard on April 2, the night of the delivery of the ransom,
was Hauptmann's. Reilly attempted to discredit Lindbergh by asking if he was armed during his testimony. Lindbergh, who had been carrying a pistol while a spectator at the trial, and having been forewarned, honestly replied that he was not.

As mentioned, Reilly allowed the identification of the corpse in the woods to stand as that of the Lindbergh baby, even though the autopsy was haphazard and confusion reigned over certain identifying marks, such as the baby's age and height.

by Russell Aiuto

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