Scopes Monkey Trial: Collision of Religion vs Science

Can religion and science co-exist? Is there common ground between what fundamentalists believe about God and the creation of the universe, and what science has taught us about the universe and its origins?

In the 21st century, we can certainly answer that question a little more definitively than we could in the 1920s.In the 1920s, there was a real debate about religion and science and which should prevail in the education of children, and the flashpoint came in July 1925 with the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, which was immortalized in the book and play titled Inherit the Wind.

The Scopes Monkey Trial was a legal clash between Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation as being antithetical. Earlier in 1925, the Tennessee state legislature passed what was called the Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in any state publicly funded school.  John Scopes, a high-school science teacher in Dayton, Tenn., worked with businessman George Rapalyea to test this new law by launching a conspiracy to violate the law and put it on trial as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

To make a spectacle of the law, the ACLU joined in the defense of Scopes and wound up enlisting famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow to for the defense team for the trial, which was to be held in the tiny town of Dayton. Darrow joined the cause after the prosecution brought one of the Fundamentalist heroes of the time, three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan, to represent the prosecution, despite not having tried a case in more than three decades. It seemed like a death sentence.

Because of the names involved, and the thought of religion being attacked in a Bible-belt state like Tennessee, a large crowd of spectators and national media descended on Dayton for what turned out to be an eight-day trial that discussed evolution and the Bible.

After the judge shot down the defense’s primary argument challenging the constitutionality of the law by keeping the focus of the trial on Scopes and his alleged violation, Darrow pretty much had his hands tied. Even some scientific witnesses, who would have testified to the theory of evolution, were not allowed to testify.

Eight days of the trial led to less than 10 minutes of jury deliberation, and Scopes was found guilty of violating the Butler Act and was ordered to pay the minimum $100 fine (which is near $1,400 in today’s dollars). The case was appealed, and the conviction was overturned on a technicality, as state law prevented judges from unilaterally imposing fines of more than $50; the jury was supposed to impose the fine of at least $100 according to the text of the Butler Act.

Though Scopes was not called to the stand during the trial, he did say publicly afterward that he was not sure that he ever taught evolution in class, but the fact was not in dispute during the trial, which led to the conviction.

While Bryan, the fundamentalist Christian, won the case, he was publicly humiliated during the trial when Darrow took the unorthodox step of calling Bryan to the stand as a witness and spent two hours exposing Bryan’s Christian beliefs and his ignorance of science (at the time) and his literal interpretation of the Bible, which was already being heavily questioned by scholars around the world.

By the way, the Butler Act remained on the books until 1967, and these kinds of laws were banned altogether by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968, which ruled a similar law in Arkansas was unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The OJ Simpson Drama That Began In 1994 Is Not Over Yet

A double-homicide that occurred on June 12, 1994, became one of the biggest trials of the century after former football player O.J. Simpson was charged with the killings of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. The outcome of that eleven months, heavily publicized trial would send shockwaves throughout the country, and unfortunately, the drama is about to get amplified once again as Simpson is scheduled for parole on a completely different set of charges that eventually led him behind bars.

Although the case against Simpson for the double-homicide was strong, his defense team convinced a jury of his peers that DNA evidence was far from conclusive, and certainly not a reliable way of proving guilt. Simpson was eventually found innocent, probably in part because using DNA as the foundation of a criminal homicide case was a new wrinkle in court back in 1994. People were not familiar with the science behind DNA, and so they found that there was reasonable doubt that Simpson had committed the murders.

On top of that, Simpson’s defense attorneys also implicated the LAPD in a brand of misconduct that persists even today–racism. Many of us are already aware of the disparity between the way African Americans and Caucasians are treated by law enforcement (in some circumstances, but not all of course), and the defense team was able to capitalize on race as a source of confusion during the trial. It worked.

The lawyers also suggested that evidence had been handled improperly. If true, any evidence could have been tainted before it was provided as part of a court exhibit.

Although Simpson was eventually acquitted of the murders and released from custody, Nicole Simpson’s family levied a successful civil lawsuit against O.J., after which they were supposed to be given $33.5 million. To date, they have not received the full amount.

The trial itself unleashed a crazy amount of tension between African Americans, those of Hispanic descent, and Caucasians. Although a high number of African Americans thought that O.J. was the victim of unfair bias towards a man of color, Caucasians were much more certain that he had committed the double murder.

Back in 2007, O.J. was caught and convicted of felony armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas. He was slammed with 33 years behind bars, although he would be given the opportunity for parole after only nine. And that leads us to the newest tidbit of news regarding the case.

In a more recent development to the O.J. Simpson drama extravaganza, the prosecutor that put him behind bars now says that Simpson will likely be released after his next parole hearing. Because previous allegations (should) have nothing to do with the robbery charges that landed him in prison this time around, he is more likely to get out. After all, he has been jailed for nine years already. If he is to be released, it could happen by the first of October (2017).

The prosecutor also said that he gave Simpson the chance to make a plea bargain to reduce the amount of time spent behind bars to only two years, but that Simpson did not accept. The man is just about to turn seventy years old, and we’ll know soon enough if this is his last birthday behind bars.

How Much Do You Remember About The Manson Family Murders?

The Manson case gripped America like no other, in large part because everything about the family in question was fascinating from the very beginning. Charles Manson was reportedly sold by his mother for some beer in his early years. Eventually his uncle found him. One must wonder how much history could have changed if Manson had stayed in the arms of a woman who wanted children more than a pitcher of beer. Then again, Manson seemed worth giving up. Sadly, we’ll never know.

Charles grew up troubled, diagnosed with schizophrenia while exhibiting symptoms consistent with paranoid delusions. He was a control-freak, accustomed to manipulating people and circumstances in order to get his way. He spent time in facilities designed to rehabilitate delinquent youths, and then prison as well. But that was nothing compared with what was to come. In the late sixties, he moved to San Francisco and began recruiting. Him and his cult then moved to a ranch outside of Chatsworth.

Before his release from prison, he had spent most of his life behind bars of a sort–and he had asked permission to stay, suggesting there was no potential for him to adapt outside of prison walls. It turns out they should have honored his request.

Manson almost had a career in the music industry, but was turned down. When he didn’t get his way, he appears to have ordered his followers to slaughter a group of seven people connected–some, very loosely–to the man who denied him the opportunity to make music. Out of all those killed, the death of actress Sharon Tate caused the greatest stir.

When Manson first entered a courtroom to answer charges of murder, he had carved the letter “X” into his forehead. Later on while serving his inevitable sentence, he would have a swastika inked in its spot. Although he did have an attorney during the trial, he mostly defended himself. One of his followers, Kasabian, was rewarded with immunity for testifying against the rest of the Manson family. Although she did not commit a murder for Manson, she did accompany the rest in order to serve as a lookout while five people were slaughtered.

In January 1971, a jury took ten days to find each of the defendants guilty, and several of the Manson family were sentenced to death. The trial itself lasted seven months.

Having ordered the death of a pregnant woman–something seen akin to child molestation to those serving time in prison–it’s a shock that Manson has survived all these years. At least one failed attempt that we know about was made on his life.

Although Manson was originally sentenced to die and would have never received the opportunity for parole, the death sentence was abolished in the state of California, forcing the state to adjust his sentencing. This odd loophole allowed him to seek parole only seven years after his incarceration, and he has since had parole rejected twelve times. Although a couple of his followers had favorable parole hearings within the last decade, the push to approve these cases was denied by the governors who were serving at the time. As of now, Manson’s parole board hearings have gone so poorly that he will not be allowed to petition again until 2027 when he will have reached age 92.

He will almost certainly never see the light of day outside of a prison, and his current health is in question.

Sacco and Vanzetti: Misplaced Justice?

Before McCarthyism, there was the Red Scare.

And just like McCarthyism, the Red Scare had all of America paranoid and on constant alert. And when paranoid, humans can be known to be over-vigilant and even irrational. One famous 1920s trial placed some of that hysteria into the American criminal justice system, and two men may have been convicted for their beliefs, instead of the crime for which they were charged.

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian-born anarchists living in Red Scare America, just after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 that overthrew the U.S.-allied czarist government and instilled a communist regime. Communism then became seen as a real threat to the American way of life, so anything that was not seen as pro-America was seen to be “radical” and feared.

Such was the case with two anarchists in Massachusetts – Sacco was a shoe-maker, Vanzetti a fishmonger. In April 1920, a shoe factory was robbed of about $15,000 in payroll cash, and a paymaster and guard were both shot and killed during the robbery. A few days later, while police were heading to a location where the alleged getaway car was found, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested and charged with the robbery and murder, as they were two “Italian-looking” men as described by witnesses, and were carrying loaded weapons at the time of their arrest.

The pair was found to have a gun that matched one carried by the murdered guard that was not found at the scene, and they had shell casings and bullets on them that were similar to those found at the crime scene. The pair also denied being anarchists, or even owning guns. After anarchist literature was also found on them, the pair was arrested and indicted for the robbery and double homicide.

In 1921, the trial itself did not gain much attention – but the result sparked controversy. Despite Sacco and Vanzetti having no prior criminal records, conflicting ballistic and forensic reports, and several key witnesses’ credibility being questioned during the trial, and police failing to recover the stolen money, the pair was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by the judge.

As details fo the trial came out in the weeks and months following, some communists and anarchists began speaking up in advocating for Sacco and Vanzetti’s innocence, and demanding their release. Noting that many witnesses were discredited, there was no money found, and there was no absolute connection between forensics and ballistics to the two men, the calls of innocence began to ring louder as the pair went through their series of appeals.

Over the next five years, opposition to the conviction began to take on a life of its own, and protests and violent demonstrations were held in several major international cities lambasting the American judicial system for its unfair and unjust treatment of what was believed to be two innocent men simply because of their anarchist, anti-government beliefs.

More and more people in the public became convinced that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent, and demonstrations became more violent, including bombs being set off in New York and Philadelphia. However, despite the public outcry and several appeals, the two men were executed in the electric chair in August 1927.

In the decades the followed, Massachusetts thoroughly reviewed the case and looked at how forensic investigations were conducted and aimed to improve them so that biases could be better neutralized. In 1977, the 50th anniversary of Sacco’s and Vanzetti’s executions, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis proclaimed that the pair was treated unjustly in a form of apology on behalf of the state, and urged that no “stigma” be attached to the names of the two men going forward.

Harry Thaw & The Very Public Murder

An estimated 1,000 witnesses. A jealous but wealthy husband. An equally wealthy man of society who has a propensity for taking young lovers.

Two plus two equals … not guilty.

There has always been a belief in two justice systems in America – one for the wealthy and well-connected, and one for everyone else. But you know what happens when two wealthy families are on opposite ends of a murder?

That depends, we suppose. In 1907-08, riches didn’t control the mind, and the mind proved to be a powerful defense.

It’s famously known as the “trial of the century” by American media at the time, as well-known architect Stanford White was shot and killed at the outdoor rooftop theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and coal and railroad heir Harry K. Thaw was put on trial for the very public murder in front of nearly 1,000 people who were watching a performance at the theater at the time of the shooting.

The setup is that Thaw had a lovely young wife named Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, who was a “supermodel” of the day, being featured on the covers of every major magazine in the country.  Thaw learned that her bride had been involved with the noted lothario Mr. White prior to the marriage, and Thaw became quite jealous of, and obsessed with, Mr. White. There was a report that White had raped Mrs. Thaw, but that was not definitively corroborated.

Thaw was charged with the June 1906, murder, and went on trial in January 1907 in what was called the “trial of the century.” Thaw claimed an insanity defense, saying that he shot White in a fit of jealous rage over the previous relationship. After much deliberation, including evidence that suggested that Thaw was not temporarily insane but had a history of mental instability that was consistent throughout his family, the jury was hopelessly deadlocked in deciding whether Thaw committed murder, as several on the jury were convinced of the insanity defense.

After that hung trial, Thaw was re-tried a year later, in January 1908, and much of the same media circus followed along. Thaw remained in jail during this time, and maintained his insanity defense, despite all the witnesses to the shooting who all corroborated the story seeing Thaw shoot White in cold-blood leading to this death.

The second trial went much the way of the first, with Thaw’s defense team presenting him as a man mentally disturbed and especially triggered by the relationship of the woman he loved with a man who was the toast of New York society at the time.  With the second jury, a verdict did come back – and Thaw was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

But instead of being freed, he was declared criminally insane and was sent to a mental institution until he was released in 1924, 16 years later.

Of course, there would be a couple more “trials of the century,” in the 20th century, but it is said that the Harry Thaw murder trial signaled the “end” of what was called the Gilded Age in America.  It was known as one of the first great celebrity trials in America, and it was one of the early successful insanity defenses.

Should We Take Another Look At the Rosenberg Espionage Trial?

The conspiracy surrounding the Rosenbergs wasn’t simple. Only a few weeks after the Korean War broke out, arrests were made on the grounds that Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg conspired to commit espionage. That was the charge, but the reality was less murky: the couple was tried, convicted, and eventually executed three years later after allegedly providing the recipe for an atomic bomb to one of America’s greatest rivals, the USSR.

The funny thing about a conspiracy charge is this: no one has to prove beyond any doubt that you did something wrong in court. So how exactly was the couple tried and found guilty when the punishment would be death for treason? Easy. The government found witnesses who would testify to the wrongdoing of the defendants. Who, though, would know of such wrongdoing? Ethel’s brother and his wife, as it turns out. The government charged them both with conspiracy to commit espionage as well, and then allowed the couple to testify against the Rosenbergs in exchange for a softer sentence.

We know now that the U.S. had evidence that Julius ran errands as a courier for the Soviets, and also helped them recruit. Did the Rosenbergs give plans to build the atom bomb, jet propulsion engines, sonar, and radar to the USSR? Many believe they did, while others believe they did not. They were certainly guilty of conspiracy, but to what extent–and why did that matter so little at the time in the court of public opinion?

This case is important because it aids in several important discussions regarding something we’re supposed to believe in as Americans: that is, you’re innocent until proven guilty. The Rosenberg case told us exactly how these types of important, publicized cases should not play out. Although the government had a treasure trove of evidence that was not declassified until the USSR collapsed, almost no direct, tangible evidence linking the couple to any wrongdoing was made public during the trial and subsequent execution, causing a great number of people to defend the integrity of the couple.

Their children, for example, maintained the couple’s innocence until the files were declassified. Even then, they believed that the files pointed a finger more at Julius and less at his wife.

The trial also forced us to reconsider how to best employ the death penalty in any circumstance. Some might contend that Ethel’s role in the apparent espionage, however small or large it may have been, should not have required a lethal response maybe just a few less days at the beach. There are a great number of historians who contend that neither she nor her husband was deserving. There are others who adamantly suppose that the couple would never have been tried at all, had it not been for the rampant paranoia that plagued communities and social orders during the Cold War.

Today, the death penalty is still controversial–here in the U.S. anyway. The Rosenberg trial begs the question: is the death penalty ever really necessary? Is it truly a humane response to criminal activity if there is even a sliver of doubt concerning a person’s guilt or innocence? These are questions we will undoubtedly continue to ask ourselves in the foreseeable future. Maybe we should continue to analyze the Rosenberg espionage trial for that reason alone.

The Trial of Galileo Galilei

Galileo was born in 1564 and lived to the ripe old age of 77, when he died in 1642. That’s pretty good, under the circumstances. Today he is famous for having hypothesized many of the scientific principles and realities that we take for granted–such as the super silly notion that the planets revolve around the sun instead of around the earth (the former concept is known as heliocentrism, and the incorrect latter concept known as geocentrism). Although he was eventually proven partially correct, the scientific minds of the time period were compelled in a large part by religion. Heliocentrism contradicted Scripture. If you contradict God, then you’re considered a heretic, and so to trial he went.

Galileo quickly discovered much in astronomy that led to controversy. During the time period, there weren’t many who could force people to question their place in the cosmos, but Galileo was such a man. He discovered mountainous terrain on the moon and satellites revolving around Jupiter. He discovered sunspots and the phases of Venus. He discovered nebulae, even though he couldn’t begin to conceive what they were. Although his newly-founded views of the universe were frowned upon, he persisted.

The Roman Catholic Church had already lended its support to scientists and astronomers such as Aristotle and Ptolemy, and so the rift had begun. Although Jesuits first disagreed with Galileo’s findings, they eventually concluded the same after observing the phenomena for themselves. Many of those who refused to accept Galileo’s contributions to the field of astronomy purportedly never even bothered to look through a telescope in order to see for themselves. Then again, we experience a lot of the same type of skeptics today in even more important areas of science.

Certain high-ranking members of the Catholic church were called upon to offer their opinions on the Galileo problem. One decided that heliocentrism needn’t remain an issue as long as it was considered only in theory or hypothesis, and not in reality. When Galileo would not relent to those who disputed his findings, he was asked to provide conclusions based on physics and mathematics. He initially refused, but eventually provided a number of such conclusions. The church refused to listen to his reasoning.

An inquisition was formed on February 19, 1616 in order to discuss the reality of a heliocentric view of the universe. When this viewpoint was determined to be theologically absurd, he was ordered to essentially cease and desist, or else stronger measures would be forced upon him.

After a long period of back and forth between supporters and opponents, he was eventually ordered to stand trial in 1633. He was found guilty of heresy on June 22 of the same year. At first he was sentenced to imprisonment, but this was changed to house arrest. He died at home in Italy. As a result of the proceedings, many of his publications were banned for a time.

Galileo’s observation of heliocentrism suggested the sun was the center of the universe, which we now know to be untrue. It’s simply the center of one solar system in a single galaxy within the massive observable universe we know about today.

The Trial of Joan of Arc

We grow up learning about the Middle Ages–or more specifically how little we know about the years from about 500 to 1500 A.D. Toward the end of this fairly interesting time period was a figure known as Joan of Arc, a young French heroine who participated in the Hundred Years’ War and has gone down in history as a saint. She grew up a peasant and, according to her, she heard visions from the Archangel Michael and a couple of saints, all of whom urged her to lend aid to Charles VII.

She fought against the English rule over France, and eventually, the French Charles VII was indeed crowned king. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc was caught by English allies in 1430 and burned at the stake just over a year later. Do you know the reason?

Before she was executed by the English, however, there was a short trial. We have very detailed records–even during this somewhat “dark” time period–because notaries were directed to take copious notes during the trial. These notes were published some years later and copied repeatedly. Now they are a part of history. And have come in handy for several defense attorney and lawyers everywhere. 

Joan’s life was examined as thoroughly as possible so the English could deride her character, but their efforts were mostly in vain. Her virginity was examined (and found to be intact). Her home, upbringing, and social status were all investigated relentlessly. Those conducting the preliminary inquiries found nothing that would be helpful at trial, and so these efforts were essentially wasted.

During an interrogation that took place before the first trial date, her method of dressing was immediately frowned upon. She dressed as a soldier, with her clothing tied together in a single piece. She explained to those who interrogated her that it was to prevent rape. During the first court appearance, she said that she could make no guarantee of the truth of her answers because she had no idea on which subjects she would be questioned. she was asked to recite certain prayers, but she responded by demanding to be heard in confession in exchange for the recitation.

During the proceedings, she was repeatedly accused of heresy and asked to renounce all the visions she experienced which led her to fight against the English in order to crown Charles VII. She was also asked to give up her soldier’s clothing, even though she knew the consequences. Although she decided to sign an abjuration at first, she “recanted” only days later, and again wore the clothing which she had sworn to give up. Then again, she was given no choice. The guards provided her with only the clothing she had already been wearing, even after she argued that she should be given something else to wear because she had signed the abjuration.

This forced “relapse” into heresy provided the English court all the justification it required to have her executed on May 30, 1431.

Although Joan of Arc died at the hands of the English at the young age of nineteen, she was pronounced innocent by Pope Callixtus III shortly thereafter in 1456. He said she was a martyr. Napoleon Bonaparte later declared her a national symbol of France in 1803.

What Were The Nuremberg Trials And Why Were They Significant?

In Germany, the Nazi party held an annual rally in Nuremberg before the beginning of World War II. Many of the laws proposed and instituted during these rallies targeted Jews as a part of fundamental Nazi ideology, and they helped pave the way for the Holocaust to slowly unfold over the next decade. Many of the “Nuremberg Laws”–as they would come to be known–prevented anyone with Jewish blood from obtaining citizenship in the Reich, and made sexual relations between Jews and “pure-blooded” Germans a criminal offense. Over time, those of Jewish background all but lost most of the rights we hold universal and self-evident today.

It is only fitting then, that the trials which would crush Nazi war criminals under the fist of justice would take place in Nuremberg. They were carried out from the end of the war in 1945 until 1949 and were aptly named the Nuremberg Trials. The defendants of this trial were mostly former higher-ups in the Nazi party, including military officers, doctors, lawyers, industrialists, etc.

These trials were not only significant in their scope, but also because they were a cornerstone for the international laws that would eventually be drafted in order to prevent a recurrence of the atrocities of the Holocaust, most of which have persisted until today. They helped humanity recognize how these atrocities can occur, and who can legally be held accountable. In addition, it was only because of the Nuremberg Trials that an eventual international court was finally established in order to deal with proposed injustices as they occur throughout the world.

For many, these changes did not happen fast enough to make a difference.

It was not until December of 1942 that Allied leaders acknowledged the slaughter of the Jewish peoples who had resided throughout Europe at the time of Germany’s invasion–long, long after they already knew. It was at this time that they made public their intent to prosecute those responsible for the proposed crimes against humanity.

Perhaps a surprise to no one, Joseph Stalin suggested that up to 100,000 German officers be executed. Even Winston Churchill tossed about the idea of summarily executing certain members of the Nazi party. American leaders rejected these ideas outright, although probably not for the reasons we might invoke today. Instead, they believed the best way to avoid scrutiny of the executions in the future was to try those whose guilt was already certain. That way, evidence could be collected and cataloged for future generations who might otherwise judge those who put the men to death as equally guilty.

Although there was a precedent for trying military officers and political leaders for war crimes on a much smaller scale in regional conflicts that occur in one country or another, there were certainly no precedents available for trying such a great number of people accused of international crimes against humanity. The London Charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) helped draft the laws which would then govern the Nuremberg Trials. This charter helped categorize crimes based on what occurred. If you violated a peace treaty, you could be charged with a crime against peace. If you violated already-established customs or laws that typically govern war, you could be charged with a war crime. If you were guilty of murder, you could be charged with a crime against humanity.

These first steps were those that inspired the Geneva Conventions that we still use to govern international law today–and hopefully will into the future.

Famous Trials: Leopold and Loeb

In order to fully understand the ramifications of this trial, first, we have to learn a little about the two key players – Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.

Nathan Leopold was a child prodigy with an intelligence of 210. He spoke 5 languages fluently and was a renowned ornithologist by the time he was 18 years old. Richard Loeb was also intelligent, skipping several grades and graduating University at the age of 17. But he was characterized as lazy and unmotivated.

This is important to note because Leopold and Loeb thought that their superior intelligence would allow them to plan and execute the perfect crime and not get caught. They were also both influenced by Nietzsche and his concept of the Ubermensch or Superman. The fact that they were intellectually superior to the common folk and their basic rules didn’t apply to them. They began testing this theory by a string of petty theft but no one noticed or cared. This is when they began to plan “their perfect crime” that would garner them media attention and catapult them into Superman status.

Leopold (then 19) and Loeb (then 18) somehow believed that kidnapping and murdering a young boy would be the perfect crime. They spent months planning every little detail from the method of abduction to the disposal of the body, to the delivery method of the money for the ransom as well as which chisel to buy to commit the murder.

Decided to murder Bobby Franks was easy as it was Loeb’s cousin and former tennis partner.

On May 21st, 1924 as Leopold and Loeb offered Franks a ride in a rented vehicle. Leopold drove and Loeb sat in the back seat with the chisel. Franks originally declined the invite but was convinced to get into the car after Loeb offered to discuss tennis rackets. Franks sat in the passenger seat and Loeb struck him in the head with the chisel several times. He then dragged him into the back seat, gagged him and Franks subsequently died. Then poured hydrochloric acid onto his face, body scar, and genitals to obscure any identification to the body, and dumped him in the culvert near the railroad in Hammond Indiana. By the time they arrived back to Chicago, there were already reports that Franks was missing. They made their first phone call to the Franks family saying a ransom note will be sent soon, then mailed their ransom note, burned Franks’s clothes and cleaned the blood off the rented car.

Then they poured hydrochloric acid onto his face, body scar, and genitals to obscure any identification to the body, and dumped him in the culvert near the railroad in Hammond Indiana. By the time they arrived back to Chicago, there were already reports that Franks was missing. They made their first phone call to the Franks family saying a ransom note will be sent soon, then mailed their ransom note, burned Franks’s clothes and cleaned the blood off the rented car.

The next morning they called a second time to dictate the first set of payment for ransom. This is where the plan fell apart. The intricate instructions were too confusing and a nervous family member forgot where he was supposed to go.

As this was happening, Franks’s body was found, and Leopold and Loeb knew their kidnapping charade was kaput. They destroyed the typewriter and went about their lives, as usual, thinking they committed the perfect crime.

As the investigation began, Loeb kept to himself where Leopold helped police and even offered to help. He even gave theories of what could have happened and was quoted saying “If I were to murder anybody, it would be just such a cocky little son of a bitch as Bobby Franks.”

Then things began to fall apart again. Found near the body was a pair of glasses. These glasses contained an unusual hinge mechanism that was quite expensive. Only three people in Chicago had purchased a pair of glasses such as these. One of which was Leopold. When confronted he said during a bird watching trip they must have fallen out of his pocket. But soon the destroyed typewriter was found by the police.

When questioned by police as to their whereabouts the night of the murder, they said they picked up two women and dropped them off by a golf course. However, their alibi was blown when Leopold’s chauffeur stated that the car was in the garage all night and being repaired.

It’s not surprising that Loeb confessed to the murder and kidnapping first. Loeb confessed that he was the driver and Leopold was the murderer. Then Leopold confessed but said he was the driver and Loeb was the murderer. Until this day, the details of who was driving and who committed the murder are refuted back and forth. But the common theory is the one listed above.

Now, onto the point of our blog: the trial. Once again the criminal defense lawyer was none other than Clarence Darrow. At this point, he had garnered a reputation for being the best criminal defense lawyer and was retained for $700,000.

Many people assumed that Darrow would go with a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. Rather, he went for a guilty plea but ask the judge that rather than death penalty, to offer life in prison. Darrow’s speech during this trial is considered to be the highlight of his career with an overarching theme of inhumane methods and punishments of the American Justice system.

This 12-hour closing argument sparked a major reversal in America’s thinking about capital punishment and caused the overall number of executions performed in the country to decrease, which is why we believe that this is definitely one of the trials of the century.