A Note About Tania
Tania Gensemer was only 16 when she created the first pages of this website as a high school project in 1997. Two weeks after creating her project she was suddenly threatened by the newspaper editor of the Hunterdon Democrat who claimed she had used "unauthorized" photos. Tania immediately dismantled her online project.
In anger, over the demise of the ONLY website dealing with Hauptmann's unfair trial and wrongful execution, I emailed Tania asking for her files though I had no knowledge of HTML or how to create websites myself. I finally figured it all out - (well, some of it, anyway) - and put her pages back online in 1998 and though very little of her original creation remains her spirit and ideas have been carried on, not only by this successful website, but, by other teenagers who have become fascinated with this case.
Tania's search for answers to skeptical questions about the death penalty and American justice was not in vain.
I believe if Charles Lindbergh was not an American hero, authorities may have looked closer at the evidence. Also, it seems quite obvious that the authorities made sure that the jury would vote guilty so that they could declare the case closed- so that the American people would feel safe knowing the baby killer was captured. Did Hauptmann receive a fair trial- NO!!!
Hauptmann surely was not given a fair trial as permitted by our Constitution. Walter Winchell said he was guilty from the get go. Hauptmann did enter the United States illegally, but that did not mean that the authorities should declare Hauptmann guilty immediately upon his arrest. It also did not justify the authorities trying to get everyone to believe Hauptmann's guilt, treating him guilty before proven so in court. They believed he was guilty before even getting the entire story. Hauptmann did not get just treatment for when he was allowed to tell his side of the events, listeners only heard what they wanted to hear. He was already guilty in their minds. They did not even need to have a trial except that they wanted to make the trial seem like a great victory for justice.
Problem is, justice got short changed. Not only was Hauptmann considered guilty from the get-go, but his lawyer, Edward J. Reilly, never really defended his client. William Randolph Hearst instructed his paper's reporters, the New York Evening Journal, to magnify the trial in his newspaper. He then paid for Hauptmann's defense. But Reilly was not worth the money. He was known for drinking several martinis during lunch breaks at the trial. He only spoke one-on-one with Hauptmann for less than forty minutes. He was paid up front so it did not matter to him whether he won or lost. After the trial he was institutionalized because he was suffering from syphilis. Just the guy anyone accused of murder would like to defend him/her!
The jurors heard much more than needed from outsiders before making their decision that Hauptmann was guilty. While they would walk out of the courthouse to their rooms, they heard peole chant, "Burn that Dutchman! Send him to the chair!" and "Kill Hauptmann!"
Also, the jury would eat lunch in the same room with the media. Only a curtain divided them from the media. This enabled them to hear the outside gossip everyday. Should a jury hear the rumors spread about the streets? No- their duty is to only hear the evidence presented by each side in court and judge the defendant on that evidence alone.
The jury also heard the public's general opinion from their own rooms. They stayed above Nellie's Taproom. There, they heard people talking and even singing about the trial. At Nellie's, a few sang their version of the trial:
Ist das nicht ein ransom box?
Ja, das ist ein ransom box!
Ist das Fisch ein clever fox?
Ja, Fisch ist ein clever fox!
Ist das nicht ein singnature?
Ja, das ist ein singnature!
Ist das nicht peculiar?
Ja, ist damn peculiar!
Ist das nicht ein ransom note?
Ja, das ist ein ransom note!
Ist das nicht ein Nelly boad?
Ja, das ist ein Nelly boad!
Today, a case would be called a mistrial if a juror would hear such comments and songs whether it expressed the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Did the jury base some of their decision on the gossip heard from the reporters? Did the jury vote because of the general public's opinion or because of the evidence presented at the trial?
Not only did the jury hear too much from the outside, but outsiders invaded the courthouse in a frenzy, hoping to get a souvenir. They stole things right out of the courthouse. And, later on, people sold small, wooden kidnap ladders for 10 cents outside the courthouse.
The authorities also handled the case pretty badly, many claimed. Walter Winchell said, "... if you (the police) weren't such a bunch of saps and yaps, you'd have already captured the Lindbergh kidnapers." The police failed to make a mold of the footprint found aside the kidnap ladder. After they arrested Hauptmann and took him to the Greenwich Street Police Station, they beat him because of the handwriting samples he was supposed to give. New Jersey Governor, Harold Hoffman, said, "Had ordinary sound police methods been used following the commission of the crime many doubts entertained today might have been eliminated and two and a half years might not have elapsed before the arrest of a person, who, through the efforts of a gasoline attendant and a bank teller, could be charged with the crime."
Walter Swayze, the man who signed Charles Lindbergh Jr.'s death certificate also made a mistake. He was only an undertaker. He did not determine the facts of the death, just signed the paper. He even admitted this on the stand.
The Defense Team wanted a mistrial for other reasons. Rosencrans demanded an acquittal. He said that the crime was out of the court's jurisdiction. He claimed that no evidence of deliberate, premeditated murder was presented in court. He said there was also no evidence of burglary. And, he said that the building of the ladder and the writing of the kidnap notes were out of the court's jurisdiction also. Although he proved some good points, he was defeated- he was denied a mistrial.
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