The Sacco-Vanzetti Case and the Grim Forces Behind It
By ART SHIELDS
23rd, he arranged with thirteen-year-old Beltrando Breni to have him help in the delivery of the eels. Next morning the two went through the streets together making those deliveries. They were observed by many persons. That day stood out in Beltrando's memory because it was then he earned his Christmas money.
Eighteen reputable witnesses vouched for Vanzetti's whereabouts on that day. Nine of those had been at home when he brought the eels, and talked with him. John Di Carlo, proprietor of a shoe store, testified that Vanzetti came to his establishment while he was cleaning up that morning -- between 7:15 and 7:40 A.M. Every hour of Vanzetti's time on the day before was accounted for.
Those who swore that they purchased eels from his included: Mrs. Mary Fortini, Mrs. Rosa Forni, Rosa Balboni, Teresa Malagruice, Adelaide Bongiovanni, Marquetta Fioci, Emma Bosari, Enrico Bastoni, a baker, and Vincent J. Longhi.
All these are persons of good repute. Their testimony was straightforward and certain. Their testimony was straightforward and certain. The prosecution made no serious attempt to disprove it.
Prosecutor Katzmann, who says this is solely a criminal case, asked Di Carlo during cross-examination:
"Have you ever discussed government theories over there between you?" and "Have you discussed the question of the poor man and the rich man between you?" (Trial Record, Page 47).
And when Michael Sassi, cordage worker, was testifying for Vanzetti, the prosecutor asked "Have you heard anything of his political beliefs?" and "Have you ever heard him make any political speeches to the fellow workers at the Cordage?"
Witnesses Alter Testimony
Witnesses for the prosecution were few and inconsistent; several altered their testimony, consciously or unconsciously, to fit the prosecution's needs.
Frank W. Harding, better known as Slip, originally described the shotgun bandit as "smooth-shaven," according to the Boston Globe of December 24, 1919. But in the official transcript of the preliminary hearing of Vanzetti on May 10, he used five lines to describe the "overgrown Charlie Chaplin" moustache of the same man. This description was given after he had seen Vanzetti.
Similar alteration of testimony was made by Benjamin J. Bowles, one of the men on the pay-truck. Bowles is a special officer for the White Shoe Company and member of Chief Stewart's police force in Bridgewater. At the preliminary hearing Bowles swore the shotgun man's moustache was "short and croppy." But presently it became known that Policeman Schilling and Gault, of Plymouth, together with the Chief of Police there and various prominent persons, would testify for the defense that Vanzetii's moustace had been full and flowing for years. So in the trial Bowles declared that the shotgun man's moustache was "bushy."
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