June 3rd-June 5th
State’s attorney Robert Crowe brought his case and 40 witnesses before a grand jury. Evidence was introduced, the witnesses testified, and at the end of the day on the 5th the jury voted to charge Leopold and Loeb with two indictments; one for murder, one for kidnapping for ransom. These decisions were sent to Cook County Circuit Court Judge Caverly so the killers could be officially charged.
Loeb and Leopold were brought to Judge Cavelry’s court for arraignment. The courtroom and criminal court building were stuffed with members of the public, competing with the reporters, stenographers and court officials who were all intensely interested in seeing the young murderers in person. They stood in the aisles, on tables and hung over the railings in attempts to hear and get the best pictures possible.
Newspapers had been filled with stories the past couple weeks that harped on the extent of Leopold’s cold egoism, as in this early stage he was seen as the worse of the pair; said to be a hypnotist who had led the weak and guileless Loeb to murder and ruin. Reporters eager to cash in on the sensationalism gravitated to this, the boys’ first public appearance since their inquest, and were only too happy to further such rumors. They also took joy in comparing the defendants’ lives today to what they would have been had they been free, pointing out that today was Loeb’s 19th birthday as well as the day Leopold had intended to sail to Europe for a three-month vacation.
The boys pleaded not guilty to both charges and Judge Caverly set the dates: July 21st for motions to quash or ask for more time, and August 4th for the beginning of the trial. They were then led back to their cells and the eager crowd slowly disbanded.
Testing began as doctors Harold Hulbert and Karl Bowman arrived in Chicago, secured by the Defense to examine Leopold and Loeb then report back on their mental and physical conditions.
The next few weeks were filled with the psychiatric and physical evaluations, carried out from 9-5 daily. Leopold said the tests were intensely interesting, though he was often resentful and irritated about the physical exams, saying; “I think this medical ‘psychiatric’ stuff is all horseshit,” but was keenly interested in the psychoanalysis. Leopold reported that Loeb was bored by it and alienists confirmed that he sometimes fell asleep during joint interviews when Leopold was having medical tests done. These evaluations by Hulbert and Bowman culminated in two psychiatric reports, each over one hundred pages, referred to as the Hulbert-Bowman reports. The reports were read by other defense alienists, Crowe and Caverly, to keep everyone informed of the defendants’ histories, as well as their physical and emotional states.
In mid-June, Loeb was moved from his cell on the 7th floor to the 6th and was placed in a cell near Leopold, giving them their first opportunity to talk relatively privately since they were called for questioning. They discussed the discrepancies between their stories over who killed Bobby, each refusing to officially retract their statement. Loeb said he would not back down from his position that Leopold killed Bobby, especially since they were on equal footing legally regardless of who struck the blow. He hoped to give his mother some shred of comfort in thinking that Leopold may have done it rather than her own son. Leopold argued that the truth must have some value, but eventually acquiesced to the difference of opinion, their friendship repaired.
During their weeks in jail, Loeb played indoor baseball for their exercise hour while Leopold watched or talked to groups of other prisoners. They pursued the small prison library with gusto, often reading 6-8 books a week and Loeb tried to teach Leopold to play chess. He eventually gave up, exasperated, telling him: “You’re just too stupid to learn, Babe.”
They got along well with their cellmates, sharing their food and cigarettes, which they had brought in three times a day from a nearby restaurant, and swayed between joking with reporters, talking to them about anything but the case and ignoring them completely. Leopold in particular had fun toying with journalists, guards and policemen. His penchant for sarcasm and quips became so frequent that some began to wonder if he was putting on an act to try and establish an insanity plea. Both boys requested copies of the newspapers daily and read the stories about themselves with great interest, laughing at the inaccurate and sensationalized ways they were being portrayed.
Anna Loeb made her first visit to see her son since he’d been arrested. She was accompanied by her oldest son Allan and brother-in-law Jacob, and was allowed to meet with Loeb in the Warden’s office. When they saw each other it was said that they hugged and cried, talking quietly out of earshot of the reporters. After ten minutes Anna was told she had to leave, and with a last hug and a small smile, she did. Two days later she and her husband, sick with heart disease, left Chicago for their second home in Charlevoix, Michigan, where they remained for the rest of the summer. Anna and Loeb traded letters through Allan, who also kept their mother informed of the court developments and Loeb’s health.
Judge Caverly’s appointed date for preliminary court action arrived and after weeks of psychiatric testing and a not-guilty plea, most everyone assumed the defense had been preparing for an insanity plea. Certainly that is what the prosecution had begun building its case against, so it was a shock when Darrow stood up and quietly announced that he was withdrawing the pleas of not guilty and changing them to guilty on both charges. The trial, now a sentencing hearing with no jury, was thus slated to begin not on August 4th, but on July 23nd, just two days later.
The defense had several reasons behind this strategy: to keep the Prosecution team on their toes with very little time to prepare, to avoid a jury of riled-up citizens and to make sure that Crowe did not have two chances to hang them for their dual charges of murder and kidnapping. Crowe would spend the rest of the summer trying to get the defense alienists to admit that Loeb and Leopold were plain insane or sane, he highly resented the mitigating circumstances that would become their main defense.
The first day of the hearing set the tone for the weeks to come, the public crowded along the street and jammed inside the criminal court building, hoping to get into the courtroom or just catch a glimpse of the young killers. Pink tickets, given to those first in line, were needed to allow public admittance and the press were given blue passes, one per newspaper. Police and bailiffs lined the building, from the streets outside, through the hallways and all the way to the sixth floor, making sure that only those with passes were admitted. For the lucky few that managed to make it inside, they found a small sweltering room full of bodies. The principles, both legal teams, witnesses and family members sat in an inner ring of seats backed by benches. Reporters crammed themselves in the empty jury box while the rest of the public took their seats in the back behind the inner ring or overflowed into the aisles.
As spectators and reporters fought to get in, the families involved who would give anything to be elsewhere took their places this first day and every day after. Sitting together on a bench at the back of the inner ring, the four Loeb and Leopold family members were stoic, sometimes whispering quietly to each other and talking with the defendants during breaks. Jacob Franks typically came alone or with his friend Sam Ettelson and sat behind the defendants or prosecution lawyers. He kept mostly to himself, sometimes talking a little with the prosecution team or members of the public.
When reporters wanted to showcase the grief and despair this crime caused, they most often went to Nathan Sr., even Crowe, in his closing argument, stated that Nathan Sr. was a man “entitled to the sympathy of everybody.” His aged appearance and seemingly constant sadness and bewilderment over the circumstances caught public attention and made for good copy.
Before the hearing this day, and every day until it concluded, dozens of reporters visited with the boys in jail at least twice a day. They were allowed a ten minute interview in the morning before court and another in the afternoon once court had finished. Both defendants smoked, laughed and joked with the reporters, astounding everyone with their seemingly frivolous and carefree attitudes. As the days wore on however, they began to tire of their little routines and talking about themselves, instead asking the reporters to give them news from the outside for a change.
This first day both Loeb and Leopold denied to reporters that they were nervous and Leopold ribbed them about describing their clothes inaccurately in previous papers until Loeb told him to shut up. (Many papers meticulously made note of their outfits the following day in retaliation to the jibe.) At 9:30 they were called away, said their goodbyes to the reporters and went to cross into the Criminal Court Building, accompanied by several bailiffs and police officers, the hearing for their lives about to begin.
The ‘trial of the century’ began in the middle of the week with some basic court proceedings. Counsels were added into the defense and prosecution teams, Leopold and Loeb were read the charges against them and asked if they understood. Their repeated answers of “I do, your honor.” and “Yes, your honor, I do.” were the first of only two times they spoke directly at their hearing, though their voices would often be heard as quoted by lawyers and witnesses.
During their time in court the boys were always neatly dressed and relatively composed. Reporters and members of the public did object to their occasional laughter, smiles and yawns, citing them as examples of the killers’ callousness and lack of understanding for their predicament. When questioned by a reporter, Loeb explained this behavior: “I sit in the courtroom and watch the play as it progresses. When the crowd laughs, I laugh. When it is time to be serious, I’m serious…I’ve watched others in the courtroom and they laugh, smile, yawn, or look bored and all the other things. Why should I be any different?”
State’s attorney Robert Crowe began his opening statement by introducing his theory that the motive for the murder was based on greed for a ransom rather than a ‘thrill’. He claimed that the ransom money they extracted from Jacob Franks would be used to pay gambling debts and that the typewriter was stolen specifically with the ransom letters in mind. He gave an overview of the planning and crime, which he called “the most cruel, cowardly, dastardly murder ever committed in the annals of American jurisprudence” setting up his witnesses who would prove a connection between the defendants and their crime. Of course, Loeb and Leopold had already pleaded guilty and readily admitted the connection the prosecution was trying to prove. Crowe, who had been preparing for an attack against defendants pleading not-guilty for a month and a half before their abrupt change, was understandably disadvantaged.
Following Crowe’s opening, Darrow began to disassemble his arguments, agreeing that this murder was a terrible thing, but it was by no stretch of the imagination the worst or most atrocious in US history. Crowe objected to this and he and Darrow went back and forth, setting the tone for their relationship in court for the rest of the trial, filled with sarcasm, backhanded remarks and petty quarrels.
After Crowe’s long and detailed explanation of their crime and his damnation of the defendants, Darrow’s opening statement was fairly concise. He said that regardless of what Crowe was setting out to prove, no one was trying to say that the defendants were not guilty, so all the evidence and witnesses were superfluous. The boys were too young to hang, they would be the youngest executed in Illinois history, and regardless of the outcome, their deaths would not bring Bobby back. He and his team would spend the next few weeks trying to demonstrate that Loeb and Leopold’s mental make-up gave them limited responsibility for their crimes.
The remainder of the day was taken up by a parade of prosecution witnesses. They began with the uncle, father and mother of Robert Franks, and two coroners who preformed his autopsy. After the parents and coroners described Bobby’s last day and his body being found in the culvert they shifted focus to proving that the defendants had committed the crime. This involved calling a series of employees from places involved in the crime: banks, drug stores, hotels and the rent-a-car company. All the witnesses confirmed Leopold and Loeb’s confessions and emphasized the careful planning and pre-meditation of their crime.
After this procession the boys were led back to their cells, where according to Tribune reporters they took off their jackets, Loeb dunked his head in a bowl of water and they requested newspapers about their big day. To reporters they stayed away from commenting too closely on what happened, though Leopold said he agreed with Darrow’s observation that Crowe was just trying to cause hysteria with his claims. They were said to be light-spirited and unconcerned, much the same as they had been in the last two months that they had been imprisoned.
More witnesses were called tying the boys to places along the murder route, then as they began linking Leopold to the typewriter, a Leopold family maid and Leopold’s friends from a study group were brought in to establish this connection. Other witnesses testified that human blood was on the murder weapon, that Loeb had spoken to some Harvard students on May 21st and that Nathan’s car had been in the garage all day. There was a brief break as the legal teams and Caverly went into a courtyard to view the rented car and confirm it was the same one that had been driven during the murder.
Late in the afternoon, a man was called who testified that he had seen Loeb driving the rented car a few hours before the murder. Leopold, who claimed this wasn’t true and hated to be connected to testimony that made it appear he had killed Bobby, ordered the defense to cross-examine the man, threatening to do it himself if they wouldn’t. Darrow consented, he was the first witness cross-examined by the defense, but it was done halfheartedly, the lawyers knew there was no point to it. Darrow was roused when a policeman named James Gortland testified that Leopold had said that he planned to use his family’s money to influence the outcome of the case and specifically that he planned to “plead guilty before a friendly judge.” The day ended with an order from Caverly for Gortland to bring any notes he had written about this comment to court the following day.
James Gortland was called back for cross-examination first thing and Darrow continued his attack, bringing into question the policeman’s powers of recollection. The man had taken one and two-word notes when talking with the defendants, but in a report written a week later he quoted Leopold extensively. Darrow, after accusing the officer of fabricating evidence after he was coached to by employees of the state’s attorney’s office, dismissed him.
During the remainder of the day, Leopold’s glasses and their prescription were identified, the man who sold Loeb a train ticket on May 22nd verified their confessions and a photographer who took photos of crime scene locations identified pictures, but the buzz in both the crowd and the legal teams surrounded the cross-examination of Gortland. A few days later Leopold, sarcastic as ever, commented to a reporter: “I’m a bit interested every time some witness testifies we said something which we never did say. In this way I learn many things about myself I never knew before.”
The evening of the 27th or early morning of the 28th, edited copies of the psychiatric Hulbert-Bowman reports were leaked to the press. It has been speculated that the defense team was responsible for this, hoping to make the defendants’ peculiarities obvious and indisputable in the public eye. Large sections were printed in newspapers that day and Crowe commented about it in court, implying that the defense team was responsible.
Witnesses were brought in to corroborate that the boys’ confessions were not forced and that the handwriting samples linking them to evidence were written by them.
Johnny Levinson, ten years old and a potential victim, was brought from his summer home in Maine to testify about his experiences on May 21st. He was treated gently by the legal counsel and then dismissed. His involvement with the crime followed him, his obituary over 50 years later was largely focused on his role in the crime and trial rather than the rest of his life’s many accomplishments.
He was followed by similar prosecution witnesses, as well as a reporter who went over the days he spent working on the case and then a court reporter who read Loeb’s and part of Leopold’s confessions into the record. Though the day bored many in the stuffy courtroom, Johnny Levinson, and the possibility of Leopold and Loeb relatives testifying later that week were enough to keep people coming back for more.
The day consisted of reading Leopold and Loeb’s confessions and conversations with employees of the state’s attorney’s office from May 30th-June 2nd into the record. The audience and journalists had little to catch their attention, as the confessions had earlier been printed almost verbatim in newspapers.
July 30-July 31st
Almost the entirety of these days consisted of arguments between the defense and prosecution lawyers. First, to clarity the separation of the kidnapping and murder trials, which in itself took several hours. Then William White, the defense’s first witness, was called to the stand and asked his name and age. When asked his profession, he said he was a psychiatrist, so Crowe objected and launched into an argument against the legality of admitting psychiatric evidence that lasted the remainder of the day. White sat silent on the stand as Crowe argued until court was adjourned. Crowe and his assistant Thomas Marshall debated with both the defense and Caverly for another full day, listing previous court cases and decisions in an attempt to sway Judge Caverly to their side.
Finally, after still more arguing, Caverly announced his decision to allow for the admission of psychiatric evidence to prove mitigating circumstances. Defense alienist William White resumed the stand and was questioned by Walter Bachrach. He delved into his analysis of the boys, sticking mainly to the basics of the Hulbert-Bowman reports. The defense sought to emphasize their childishness and their warped relationships to crime and superiority.
The alienists on both the defense and prosecution sides tended to give speeches rather than answer typical back and forth questions during direct examination. They would report on their findings, occasionally getting prompted towards topics their lawyers wanted them to cover. When they finished retelling their findings they were asked more specific questions. Crowe objected strongly to this format, often interrupting the witnesses with demands that they testify the same as lay witnesses. However, when time came for the prosecution alienists to testify, the prosecution lawyers and alienists quickly fell into similar patterns.
White finished going over some of Leopold’s king-slave phantasies and his exaggerated opinion of Loeb as being a perfect, handsome, athletic, intelligent individual and said that Nathan “almost completely identified himself with Dickie.” After this exchange Leopold wrote down a few stanzas from a poem he had memorized and passed it to Dr. Healy, another alienist, with the message: “In re. Dr. White’s remarks about identification with alter ego, Dick; see poem I quoted to you.”
This poem was “Adoration” by Adela Florence Nicholson, pen name Laurence Hope. Leopold had read her book, India’s Love Lyrics, and committed several of her works to memory. The stanzas he chose to illustrate his identification to Loeb were:
Long past the pulse and pain of passion,
Long left the limits of all love-
I crave some nearer, fuller fashion,
Some unknown way, beyond, above-
Some infinitely inner fusion,
As Wave with Water; Flame with Fire-
Let me dream once the dear delusion,
That I am You, oh, Heart’s Desire!
White got a laugh late in the afternoon, commenting that he had talked with Leopold a few days before, and that he “looked forward to [the hearing], expecting it to be one of the most keenly interesting intellectual experiences of his life. Unfortunately he finds it very stupid and boresome,” In the afternoon Crowe began to cross-examine, but didn’t get far before court adjourned.
Crowe continued with his cross-examination of Dr. White, questioning the boys’ immaturity, intelligence and other people’s attitudes towards the defendants before the murder. He argued that the defense lawyers and their witnesses were twisting the case to make these teenagers into children, when they were actually lying, manipulating and clever murderers who deceived all those they were close to. Crowe, out of all the doctors and witnesses he examined, objected most to White whom he dubbed “Old Doc Yak” after a newspaper comic character and insulted him repeatedly, going so far as to say he said was an embarrassment to his profession.
More was revealed about the boys’ childhoods, teenage years and mental states. White confirmed that the murder was more Loeb’s idea and keeping their relationship going was Leopold’s. This surprised spectators, learning that Loeb was more prone to criminal activity, with Leopold as a follower rather than a leader. Many members of the public refused to accept this; Leopold seemed so conceited and controlling, so they would continue to believe the sunny and cheerful Loeb had been led astray by the cynical, brooding Leopold. Reporters played up this difference between the pair, noting the large amounts of women who visited and sent letters and well-wishes to Loeb while Leopold typically only received mail and visits from his family and a few male friends.
Dr. Healy, another defense alienist, was called to testify and started the day with an examination by Darrow. He delved into Loeb’s history of stealing at a young age, starting at 9 and again reinforced his innate criminality above Leopold’s. Then Healy indicated that he wanted to tell of the “childish compact” that existed between Loeb and Leopold. As this involved homosexual activity and wasn’t deemed fit for the public, most of this specific talk occurred out of earshot of the larger courtroom. Instead of talking normally, both legal teams would crowd around the witness stand so the examiner and witness could whisper back and forth, Caverly occasionally yelling at the reporters to stay back if they tried to sneak closer for a listen.
Healy testified to their sex-crime compact, stressing that there was “very little what could be termed adult homosexual activity.” He went on further, explaining that Leopold’s emotional connection was so deep that “even in jail here, a look at Loeb’s body or his touch upon his shoulder thrills him so, he says, immeasurably.” When he was through with this subject, the lawyers went back to their places in court and Healy’s testimony was again made public.
Healy then began to go over the intelligence tests both were given, reporting that Leopold did exemplary in most while Loeb was at a normal level for his age and below average for his schooling. He was also tested less than Leopold, as the psychiatrists were more interested to test and explore Leopold’s supposedly genius mind. Contrary to the views of the public, the doctors tended to be more interested and empathetic towards Leopold, who debated and discussed psychiatry with them while Loeb seemed frustratingly average and uninterested in their tests or theories.
The day began, as many did, with Crowe’s objections over the psychiatrists referring to the defendants as ‘Dickie’ and ‘Babe’ rather than ‘Richard’ and ‘Nathan’. Darrow commented in his closing argument: “…they object to anybody calling him Dickie although everybody did, but they think they can hang him easier if his name is Richard.” This argument occurred almost daily and never really got resolved, eventually when Darrow asked if they needed to make an official stipulation that ‘Dickie’ meant Richard Loeb and ‘Babe’ meant Nathan Leopold Jr., Crowe dropped it and resumed his cross-examination of Dr. Healy.
He continued trying to prove that Healy was lying about the defendant’s mental capacities, accusing Healy and the rest of the defense alienists of trying to bend the law to prove there were mitigating circumstances without the defendants being insane. Their strategy, according to Crowe, was to “just make them crazy enough so that they won’t hang, and don’t make them crazy enough to make it necessary to put this up to twelve men, because twelve men are not going to be fooled.”
Bernard Glueck, a defense alienist who had taken the stand briefly the day before, resumed his testimony. He brought the judge’s attention to more of Loeb’s past, his upbringing and the ways he felt unwanted in his own home. Though Loeb appeared calm, pleasant and courteous, Glueck pointed out that this was in direct contrast to his criminal nature, and concluded that he must have a disordered personality for there to exist such a contrast in his thoughts and actions.
Regarding Leopold, Glueck discussed his intention to kill all emotion within himself, which started as he began to feel the first stirrings of his sexuality. His resolve strengthened at his mother’s death, and he concluded that emotion only led to pain, it was an unpleasant and often painful time waster, which as a true Nietzichian he had no space for in his life or philosophy.
Speaking of the melding of the boys’ personalities in relation to the crime he said: “I think the crime was perhaps the inevitable outcome of this curious coming together of two pathologically disordered personalities, each one of whom brought into the relationship a phase of their personality which made their contemplation and execution of the crime possible.”
On cross-examination he was grilled by Crowe, who accused him of taking insufficient notes and tried to discredit his knowledge of the case. Glueck turned the tables and began interrogating Crowe over the way he conducted his early interviews with the boys, which had hardly been standard procedure. At the end of the day, Glueck stepped down and the public waited in tense excitement for the friends and family members who would be called the next day. The doctors tended to confuse and worry, with their talk of mental disease lurking in seemingly perfectly ordinary young men. The spectators looked forward to the more relate-able lay witnesses who would hopefully give them insight into the killers that they could more easily understand.
The first day for Defense lay witnesses saw three friends of Loeb’s and two of Leopold’s on the witness stand. Max Schrayer and Edwin Meiss, fraternity brothers of Loeb’s from the University of Michigan testified to his nervous behaviors, his pacing, twitching, fainting and irresponsibility. Crowe attempted to undermine their testimony to Caverly by pointing out that many such behaviors were often seen in normal people as well. He also got them to admit that they hadn’t taken special notice of this behavior before the murder, considering Loeb a pretty typical teenager until they found out that he had killed someone.
When Lorraine Nathan, a former girl friend of Loeb’s, testified to his irresponsibility and childishness Crowe accused her of perjury. As with the two previous witnesses, Lorraine had made statements to the prosecution in the days after the boy’s arrest in which she called Loeb completely normal, statements that Crowe now said were in direct contradiction to her stories about his strange behavior and immaturity. Due to the harsh treatment against her, other female witnesses the defense had prepared were not called.
Leopold’s friends from law school, John Abt and Arnold Maremont, were next, they told of the discussions Leopold had with them about Nietzsche, hedonism and his friendship with a boy he regarded to be a superman: Richard Loeb. Crowe and Darrow were in fine moods this day, and their bickering often caused laughter in the court which Caverly ordered silenced, though he himself was not immune to joking and being sarcastic with the witnesses and legal teams from from time to time.
The first half of the day included the direct and cross-examination of many more friends of Loeb and Leopold. The testimony again focused on Loeb’s nervous habits, his drinking and fainting spells. Leopold’s witnesses continued to testify to his philosophy, his belief in Nietzsche’s superman theory and his extreme egoism. These witnesses were again attacked by Crowe, but none so much as those from the day before whom he had attempted to discredit. It appears that both legal teams reached an agreement on which topics to cover and which to leave alone, and the witnesses did not seem to receive any surprise questions.
After the noon recess Harold Hulbert, another defense alienist, was called to the stand. As much of the public had by this time read parts of the Hulbert-Bowman report, they were eager to see the man who had helped write it. He spoke about both the mental and physical aspects of his patients, their basal metabolisms, Loeb’s remaining baby teeth and Leopold’s childhood illnesses before going on to summarizing his report in regards to their emotional development. He declared them both emotionally and physically abnormal, though not, of course, insane.
Hulbert testified to more of his report, claiming that Leopold identified with Jesus Christ: “He does not frankly say, “I am Christ” but he does say that he is the superior person of the world.” The doctor failed to see beyond his own religious beliefs to understand that Leopold, a Jewish atheist who adhered to the theory of Nietzsche’s superman, may not have had Christ in mind when he made such statements.
He went on to testify about Leopold’s lack of emotional response, his finding importance in only truth and consistency, and his motive for the crime, which was to do what Loeb wanted. He also agreed with previous statements to the effect that the way Leopold and Loeb’s personalities intertwined was what had made the Franks murder possible.
This was followed with the results of the physical examinations, which the public had the biggest problem swallowing. This had to do with bone structure, calcification of the pineal gland and metabolism, all of which supposedly showed a relation to their mental states. Both phrenology and endocrinology made up significant parts of the defense argument, and papers from the time emphasized the pseudo sciences as well.
Though the public was wary of this talk of glands and invisible illnesses, phrenology made sense to them. If they were able to tell someone was bad just by looking at them it gave them a sense of power and understanding. Profiles and individual features of the defendants were plastered on the news pages, compared and contrasted against each other and experts explained, feature by feature, what full lips or the shape of a nostril could reveal about their temperaments.
Hulbert was called to the stand again and Crowe began his cross-examination. He dug into the question of truth, as Hulbert and Bowman had admitted in their report that they knew Loeb lied and hid information from them. How then, he asked, could they claim to make an accurate report and analysis of this patients if he could not tell when they were lying to him? To further discredit him, Crowe also mocked the physical examinations: “It is a pretty convenient theory of medicine which makes it a sign of disease to have one thing and a sign of disease for the other defendant to not have it, isn’t that true?”
The Chicago Tribune connected this statement with Leopold having a disruptive laughing fit in court, but years later Leopold gave a different explanation. He recalled that Benjamin Bachrach, sitting a seat ahead, was not listening to the cross-examination, but instead carefully picking a pimple on his hand, with glasses on and a knife to aid him. The sight of one of their well paid lawyers giving more attention to a pimple than the case sent Leopold into a fit of giggles and inspired reporters to speculate and try an invent connections regarding the cause.
Crowe continued his cross-examination of Hulbert, they went into the x-rays, urinalysis, blood pressure and he explained the science of endocrinology. Hulbert’s diagnosis was that Loeb had an endocrine disease that kept him adolescent, evidenced in his underdeveloped glands and baby teeth. After he was excused for a chance to look through his notes, lay defense witnesses were again called, which finally included family members and staff of the Leopold and Loeb families. They were not cross-examined with any force and only added corroboratory evidence, trying to disprove the prosecution’s theory that money was the prime motivator for the crime. These witnesses added little of information of interest and were something of a disappointment to any spectators expecting more insight into the teenager’s private lives. Later Hulbert was summoned again, the Hulbert-Bowman reports were added to the court record and with that, the defense rested.
The prosecution took up their case once again with a couple of witnesses who testified to Loeb showing emotion, shaking, fainting and asking for water when he confessed, in direct opposition to the witnesses who relayed that he was emotionless. A couple more people who knew Leopold testified that he was normal other than his extraordinary intelligence. The day closed with the beginning of testimony by Hugh Patrick, the first alienist for the defense, who outlined the afternoon of June 1st when he had first met Leopold and Loeb.
Hugh Patrick continued his testimony, and stated that he was of the opinion that despite everything that has been brought out by defense, the boys were sane with no mental or physical disorders. Archibald Church, another prosecution doctor, was brought to the stand after Dr. Patrick. After nearly a week of defense alienists, the prosecutions doctors by contrast were firm, to the point, and stuck to the facts. After hearing about blood pressure and childhood phantasies as mitigating circumstances, the public was grateful for these men who corroborated what was on their own minds; that despite some strange traits, the defendants were sane and not mentally or physically ill and therefore, not legally off the hook. Church agreed that all the facts within the Hulbert-Bowman report were correct, but the conclusions drawn by the alienists were “perfectly absurd.”
Late in the day Benjamin Bachrach began his cross-examination, which he started by asking Church to go over the extent of the state alienists contact with the boys. Church stated that there had been but one conversation between the defendants and doctors for 4-5 hours in the state’s attorneys office on June 1st.
Ben Bachrach began his cross-examination of Dr. Patrick by asking if his examination of the defendants was ideal for observing and learning things about someone’s mentality. Yes, Patrick replied that it was an “excellent opportunity to observe his use of language and his memory,” He found the boys emotionally normal, open, accessible and collected. Darrow questioned him about his methods for examination, which he admitted were not ideal, in a room with more than 15 people present and others constantly coming and going.
Church was brought back to the stand and he also described June 1st, when the prosecution alienists had examined the boys, and likewise admitted that the conditions were not ideal. He agreed with the defense on several points; verifying that some glands were important and influenced behavior, and that Loeb and Leopold did exhibit unusual behavior, though he would not admit to them being abnormal, just unusual.
The next witness for the prosecution was Dr. Rollin Woodyatt, a physician who criticized Dr. Hulbert’s testimony about endocrinology. Woodyatt testified that unusual endocrine readings may be the result of a doctor’s negligence to control certain factors rather than an inherent defect belonging to the patients. He further stated that there was so little known about why some glands acted the way they did, that it was presumptuous for the defense alienists to put meaning to symptoms that no one fully understood.
After his denunciations another prosecution alienist, Dr. Harold Singer, was called. He spoke of the few times he had a chance to observe the defendants, once for several hours on June 2nd where they would answer nothing but “I respectfully decline to answer on the advice of counsel” in addition to a few instances when he had sat in court and watched them during the preceding weeks. Leopold mocked Singer in his autobiography, incredulous that he could claim to know them as well as their own alienists without having had so much as a single conversation with them.
This testimony began a fight between Darrow and Crowe that would continue over the next two days. Darrow argued that Crowe had violated the law when on June 2nd he continued to keep and try to analyze the defendants after defense lawyers had been retained and a writ of habeous corpus had been issued. They were legally in the custody of police and the State had no right to continue interrogating them.
Darrow, who was described as “grey and menacing” by a reporter, continued his argument with the “genially precise” Singer, about the boys being brought back for more interrogation: “You must have known that was against the boys’ constitutional rights. You knew you had no more right to bring them to the state’s attorney’s office than for me to take them to Joliet or to Milwaukee.” The argument, not really resolved, would be picked up again by Crowe the following day. Singer further stated that what the prosecution called a ‘split personality’ in Loeb could occur in perfectly normal men, and that there was nothing in his observations that made him believe there was anything wrong with the defendants.
Singer finished his testimony in the morning, admitting that endocrine glands did control emotions, but he remained firm on his position that the boys were normal and correctly oriented. Their fight about the way Crowe handled the first few days after apprehending the defendants was again called into question, prompting the following argument:
Crowe: “I will confess that I violated a number of constitutional rights, and I intend to continue that as long as I am state’s attorney.”
Darrow: I don’t think, in a well organized community, that a man should be elected state’s attorney under such a statement as that.”
This was brought to an end by Judge Caverly, who ruled that there would be time enough for this kind of argument after all the witnesses had been heard. The time had come for the Prosecution’s anchor witness: Dr. William Krohn.
Krohn testified with the usual prosecution statements, but went further to say that the conditions for observing the defendants had been ideal. That to observe them directly after their confessions and in court were more natural conditions than long hours of observation in a more clinical setting. When Benjamin Bachrach stood to cross-examine he appeared to lose the composure with which he had previously been operating. He argued with the witness, shouted insults at him and squabbled over petty mistakes or word choices, sometimes bringing Darrow and Crowe into the fray, creating fights that Caverly would then have to settle.
The top of the morning was taken up with more bickering between Krohn and Bachrach. Krohn stuck to his statement that his examination of boys was ample to determine their sanity and that there was no evidence of mental disease. With that, Crowe rested his case and the final arguments began. These would consist of six speeches given by the legal teams, three for each side. The State began with Thomas Marshall who focused on the legal aspect of why Leopold and Loeb deserved to die. “The penalty under the laws of the state of Illinois for aggravated, deliberate murder is death.”
The press poked fun at Marshall’s rigid style when commenting on his oration:
“‘There is in this case but one question before the court, and one question only. That is, what punishment is proportionate to the turpitude of the offense.’ Notice that word turpitude. You are going to hear it exactly thirty-one more times if you hear Mr. Marshall to court adjournment.” He was still talking as court ended for the day.
Marshall’s argument continued through the morning. He cited other cases where murderers had been hanged, and said that if Leopold and Loeb were not, then everyone who has been killed had been one injustice after another. This line of argument, that capital punishment was a mistake, was something the Defense heartily agreed with. Marshall went on, telling The Court about a young man currently awaiting execution in Cook County. He had killed someone accidentally in a robbery which, Marshall clarified, was definitely not as bad as premeditated child murder. If this man and countless others had died for lesser crimes, then these killers deserved to hang as well.
He dismissed the psychiatric evidence easily, saying that “not one bit of testimony offered by the defense is competent as evidence to mitigate the punishment for their crime.” Marshall ended the State’s first closing argument implying that hanging was the only legally and morally acceptable course of action for Caverly to take.
Savage came next, and spent his time going over the crime in meticulous detail, highlighting the cold-blooded nature of their murder and subsequent reactions. He ended with an emotional series of questions for Caverly: “Counsel comes before you and asks for mercy. My God, you honor! What mercy did they show that boy? What mercy did they show him?” Loeb, unimpressed, remarked to a reporter that Savage reminded him of “a college cheer leader, throwing his arms around and shouting. He seemed to exaggerate it so much that I was hardly moved by it.”
Walter Bachrach followed Savage with the first speech from the Defense side, but court adjourned 20 minutes in.
Walter Bachrach’s argument took the full day and extended into the next. Newspapers called him suave and calm in comparison to the deep and bitter voice of Joseph Savage whom he followed. Walter, the defense team’s expert on the psychiatric side, tried to explain the diminished culpability Leopold and Loeb had because of their mental states, but his explanations sometimes confused listeners more than enlightened them.
“In this case, we take the position that there is no issue as to the question of the sanity of the defendants; but that they are suffering from a medical disease which is a medical condition…We say by our plea of guilty that we admit the defendants are guilty of murder with malice…We are not seeking to divide or lessen the responsibility to answer to this crime; but we are seeking to avail ourselves of the statutory permission to introduce evidence in mitigation of the offense.”
He urged that Caverly must seek to understand the defendants as a father, to first investigate into what caused the behavior before he inflicted punishment.
“It is so easy to hang; the important problem is put out of sight. It requires more understanding, it requires more intelligence, to investigate.”
Walter Bachrach finished his argument with the diagnosis’ the defense had found for the defendants. Leopold, he said, had a paranoid personality, which was someone who had a superior intellect, delusions of grandeur and was self-absorbed; something that sounds more like narcissistic personality disorder today. Loeb was said to have a schizophrenic psychosis, which was explained as a splitting of the mind. There was a “lack of harmony between the component parts of the reaction…The words uttered, for instance, do not correspond with the emotion expressed by the face and the attitude of the body.” This was shown in his rich phantasy life and belief that he was a master criminal. He was described as more mentally ill than Leopold, and even without capital punishment, was expected to die within five years. Once Walter had wrapped up the more clinical side of their argument, it was Darrow’s turn to appeal to Caverly’s emotions.
Darrow began his closing argument on August 23rd and it would continue until the 25th. It is impossible to summarize such an expansive statement, which, more than any other part of the trial, has been remembered and quoted at length. This speech was later printed in condensed form and parts of it have made their ways to plays, movies, essays, articles and legal books. He spoke not just of the two defendants specifically, but on the broader issues of capital punishment and mercy, so it became almost universally applicable. The speech began by addressing the statements that had come before in regards to past precedents of executing minors. He stated that there was never a case in Cook County where a person under 28 was executed when they pleaded guilty to murder.
“And yet this court is urged, aye, threatened, that he must hang two boys contrary to the acts of every judge who ever held court in this state. Why? Tell me what the public necessity there is for this?…I have seen a court urged almost to point of threats to hang two boys, in the face of science, in the face of philosophy, in the face of humanity, in the face of experience, in the face of all the better and more humane thought of an age…In the last ten years three hundred and fifty people have been indicted for murder in the city of Chicago and have plead guilty. Three hundred and fifty have pleaded guilty and only one has been hanged. And my friend who is prosecuting this case [Crowe] deserves the honor of that hanging while he was on the bench. But his victim was 40 years old.” Darrow spoke here of Thomas Fitzgerald whom Crowe sentenced to hang when he served as a Cook County Judge in 1916. “It is a thing unheard of, unprecedented in this court, unknown among civilized men, And yet this court is to make an example or civilization will fall.”
“The rest of [Marshall’s] arguments and the rest of Brother Savage’s argument I can sum up in a minute: Cruel, dastardly, premeditated, fiendish, abandoned and malignant heart-that sounds like a cancer-cowardly, cold-blooded. Now this is what I have listened to for three days against two minors, two children, who could not sign a note or make a deed…I have never yet tried a case where the state’s attorney did not say it was the most cold-blooded, inexcusable premeditated case that ever occurred. If it was murder, there never was such a murder. If it was robbery, there never was such a robbery. If it was a conspiracy, it was the most terrible conspiracy that ever happened since the star chamber passed into oblivion.”
He completely dismissed the idea that ransom had been the motive: “If there is any person in Chicago who under the evidence in this case, after listening to it or knowing it, would believe that this was the motive, then he is stupid. That is all I have to say for him, just plain stupid.” But he did praise Crowe’s research diligence
and intelligence in solving the case and apprehending his defendants, which caused the spectators to giggle, thinking he was being sarcastic. Darrow admonished them, he had been serious. He may not have agreed with all of Crowe’s methods or ideas, but there was a mutual respect between them.
He did not have the same respect for Dr. Krohn, who he completely devalued in this speech. He refused to call him an alienist, rather he was a “professional hangman,” an orator who went from courtroom to courtroom helping the State hang defendants. “When I heard Dr. Krohn testify in this case, to take the blood or the lives of these two boys, I could see his mouth water with the joy it gave him.” In his autobiography Leopold would remember this slamming of Krohn’s character (though he confused it with Bachrach’s cross examination) and labelled it brutal, ungraceful, but called Darrow victorious in the end.
From here he began to summarize his points, he quoted poetry and gave long rambling explorations into his philosophy, raising questions he hoped Caverly would be able to answer and repeatedly apologizing for how long he was taking.
“Do you think you can cure the hatreds and the mal-adjustments of the world by hanging them? You simply show your ignorance and your hate when you say it. You may here and there cure hatred with love and understanding, but you can only add fuel to the flames by hating in return…What is my friend’s idea of justice? He says to this court: “Give them the same mercy that they gave to Bobby Franks.” Is that the law? Is that justice? Is that what a court should do? For God’s sake, if the state in which I live is not kinder, more human, more considerate, more intelligent, than the mad act of these two mad boys, I am sorry I have lived so long.”
“I do not know how much salvage there is in these two boys. I do not know but that your honor would be merciful if you tied a rope around their necks and let them die. Merciful to them, but not merciful to civilization. Not merciful to those who would be left behind…The easy thing and the popular thing to do is to hang my clients, I know it. Men and women who do not think will applaud. The cruel and the thoughtless will approve. It will be easy today. But there are fathers and mothers, the humans, the kind, and the hopeful, who are gaining an understanding and asking questions, not only about these boys, but about their own.”
“Your honor stands between the future and the past. I know the future is with me and what I stand for here. Not merely for the lives of these two unfortunate lads, but for all the boys and girls, all of the young, and, as far as possible, for all of the old,”
As Darrow brought his argument to a close, there were said to be tears on many faces, including those of Richard Loeb and Judge Caverly.
Benjamin Bachrach started the day with his closing argument, he spent his time backing up Darrow, saying how worthy he was, how hard and long he worked. Ben didn’t speak long, he just summarized the defense points and left with the remark:
“You are listening for the last time in this case to anybody on the part of the defense, humbly, may it please your honor, to let these boys live and not bring upon the families of these two boys the great anxiety and bitterness and suffering that death upon the gallows to these two boys must necessarily bring.”
Then it was Crowe’s turn to speak and bring the case to its close. Though Darrow’ speech was so often remembered, Crowe spoke nearly as long and eloquently.
He began by mocking the defense and their arguments about childhood, psychiatric testimony and their aversion to the death penalty:”Your honor ought not to shock their ears by such a cruel reference to the laws of this State, to the penalty of death. Why, don’t you know that one of them has to shave every day of the week, and that is a bad sign. The other one only has to shave twice a week and that is a bad sign. One is short and one is tall and it is equally a bad sign in both of them. When they were children they played with Teddy bears. One of them has three moles on his back. One is over developed sexually and the other not quite so good. My God, if one of them had a hare lip, I suppose Darrow would want me to apologize for having had them indicted.”
“As I said, we have been travelling considerable since this trial began. We have been through dreamland; we have been through the nursery. We have been in psychopathic laboratories, we have been in hospitals, we have been before legislature and we have been addressing meetings of communists and expounding a doctrine as I consider as dangerous as the crime itself. I think it about time we got back into the criminal court…You have a right, and I know you do forgive those who trespass against John R. Caverly, but sitting here at the Chief Justice of this great Court, you have no right to forgive anybody who violates the law. You have got to deal with him as the law prescribes.”
He tried to discredit the psychiatric testimony, and in regards to the oft-criticized difference in time the defense and prosecution alienists spent with the defendants, he mocked the greed of the defense doctors: “If [the defense alienists] were paid by the job instead of by the day, I think they could have answered all the questions here in the three or four hours that our alienists employed,”
He dug in further to try and stir up rage and hate against the defendants, to make it clear that “they are no good to themselves. The only purpose that they use themselves for is to debase themselves. They are a disgrace to their honored families and they are a menace to this community. The only useful thing that remains for them now in life is to go out of this life and go out of it as quickly as possible under the law.”
He reminded the court that “crimes against nature,” meaning homosexual acts, were in themselves crimes punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary. “I want to tell your honor, bearing in mind the testimony that was whispered into your ear, one of the motives in this case was a desire to satisfy unnatural lust…You have before you the coroner’s report and the coroner’s physician says that when little Robert Franks was examined, his rectum was distended that much, indicating almost the size of a half dollar.”
The defense team raised immediate objections to this and the full coroner’s report was read into records. It contained the observation that “there was no evidence of a recent forcible dilation,” of the rectum, but Crowe stood firm in his belief that there was plenty of evidence for sexual molestation and that the water in the culvert had washed away more obvious traces. The defense disagreed and eventually the argument was stopped by Caverly, who urged Crowe to continue with his statement. He moved on, but would refer to the defendants as “perverts” regularly throughout the rest of his argument.
His next plan of attack was “to prove, not by argument, but by sworn testimony, that the ten thousand dollars had everything to do with,” the motive for murder.
He detailed the facts, as he saw them, in the “money motive”; that a safe way to receive the money was what delayed the plan for so long, that Leopold and Loeb had ruled out boys whose fathers they thought could or would not pay a ransom, and said that all the witnesses who testified to the thrill motive were coached to do so by the defense team. He detailed the boys’ gambling and spending habits, claiming that the ten thousand dollar ransom was intended to pay gambling debts. He quoted from the Hulbert-Bowman report to back him up as well: “Neither he nor his associate would have done it without the money. That extra five thousand dollars would have been his security.”
If money was the motive, it was something the public would be able to wrap their heads around, especially if it was to pay gambling debts. This painted the picture of a not unheard of, but unsavory character, rich boys with too much money and time, who were greedy and corrupt. That was certainly easier to understand and damn than teenagers who had killed for the experience. From there he moved into his summary:
“Mr. Darrow relies upon the facts, first he says there was no motive, second upon the youth of the defendants, and third upon their mental condition. I strongly suspect that the real defense in this case is not any of those at all. The real defense in this case is Clarence Darrow and his peculiar philosophy of life…Society can endure, the law can endure and criminals escape, but if a court such as this court should say that he believes in the doctrine of Darrow, that you ought not to hang when the law says you should, a greater blow has been struck to our institutions than by a hundred, yes, a thousand murders.”
Crowe wrapped up his speech and the matter of the kidnapping case was then addressed, with Jacob Franks and police captain William Schoemaker called as witnesses to testify regarding the ransom note and bits about the kidnapping related in the confessions. There was no comment from the defense team, and this segment was concluded in under an hour. When it ended, Cavelry had something to say about Crowe’s remarks near the end of his speech where he had again brought up Leopold’s comment about pleading guilty before a friendly judge.
“Before the state rests in the other case, the court will order stricken from the record the closing remarks of the state’s attorney as being a cowardly and dastardly assault upon the integrity of this court,” Crowe tried to apologize, explaining that that had not been his intention, but Caverly refused “to be intimidated by anybody at any time or place as long as he occupies this position.”
With that, both trials were closed and Judge Caverly announced that he would need almost two weeks to look over everything and come to a decision. He took all the evidence, photos, court records, confessions, letters and psychiatric reports and stated that court would reconvene on September 10th where he would announce the verdict.
Caverly told reporters as he was leaving the building: “I have received letters from cranks all during the trial telling me that this and that will happen if I do not hang the two defendants. One letter said that the writer would bomb the building if I did not impose the death penalty. Another said I would be shot and then hanged to a telephone pole if I did order them to be executed.” Police had responded throughout the trial by guarding the criminal court building and the homes of the families and both legal teams to ensure the safety of all those involved.
On September 10th, extra police gathered around the criminal court building to protect the defendants, legal teams and Caverly from harm. Loeb and Leopold were led into court that morning and seated in their usual places with their body guards behind them, waiting for their sentence. Once everyone had arrived and Judge Caverly had collected himself, he began.
He first acknowledged “the profound and unusual interest that this case has aroused not only in this community, but in the entire country and even beyond its boundaries.” He assured everyone that this publicity, which had brought to him opinions from all over the world on what his decision should be, would not influence him. He had chosen life imprisonment over death by hanging. For their dual crimes of murder and kidnapping for ransom they were to be “confined in the penitentiary at Joliet for your natural life….[and] the term of ninety-nine years.”
“In choosing imprisonment instead of death, the court is moved chiefly by the consideration of the age of the defendants, boys of eighteen and nineteen years. It is not for the court to say that he will not in any case enforce capital punishment as an alternative, but the court believes that it is within his province to decline to impose the sentence of death on persons who are not of full age. Life imprisonment may not, at the moment, strike the public imagination as forcibly as would death by hanging; but to the offenders, particularly of the type they are, the prolonged suffering of years of confinement may well be the severer form of retribution and expiation.”
His further clarification, touching on the question of parole, was something that would come back to haunt Leopold in the years to come:
“The court feels it is proper to add a final word concerning the effect of the parole law upon the punishment upon these defendants. In the case of such atrocious crimes, it is entirely within the discretion of the department of public welfare never to admit these defendants to parole. To such a policy the court urges them strictly to adhere. If this course is persevered in, the punishment of these defendants will both satisfy the ends of justice and safeguard the interests of society.”
Their time in court at an end, Loeb and Leopold were escorted back to the “death cell” where they would spend the night together and remain until their trip to the state penitentiary. They didn’t comment directly on their thoughts about the verdict, but seemed to be in good spirits and ordered big meals for dinner, thick steaks and every side they loved. While the teenagers spent their hours after the trial eating and teasing the reporters for trying to get quotes from them, other news hounds were seeking out their family members, who proved more willing to talk.
Allan Loeb commented to the press that his brother Ernest had told their parents the verdict and “it was neither a blow to them nor was it a message of great cheer. It was, in a sense, the news of a victory, yet it left them in despair. It was a mite of comfort that Loeb was not to be hanged. Still he was only 19 and must go to prison for life-and the great hurt of the uselessness of the family tragedy remained.”
Jacob Loeb read a statement from both families, saying: “Here are two families whose names have stood for everything that was good and reputable in the community. Now what have they to look forward to? Their unfortunate boys, aged 19 years, must spend the rest of their lives in prison. What is there in the future but grief and sorrow, darkness and despair?”
Jacob Franks simply said that he and his wife were just were glad that the hearing was finally over and that the story would no longer be spread across the news pages, forcefully reminding them daily of their tragedy.
Both legal teams were unenthusiastic about the verdict. Darrow remarked to reporters: “Well, it’s just what we asked for, but-it’s pretty tough. It was more of a punishment than death would have been.” Crowe turned his statement into political stance, likely trying to assure the voting public that he was on their side without speaking ill of the system itself:
“I don’t intend and have no desire to criticize the decision of the court, but I still believe the death penalty is the only penalty feared by murderers. Fathers and mothers in Cook County may rest assured that as long as I am state’s attorney I will do everything in my power to enforce the law fearlessly, vigorously and without regard as to who the criminal is.”
Public opinion was mixed on Caverly’s decision, editorials discussing the different sides of the argument appeared in papers and journals for weeks afterward. Most of the principals involved in the case, which had lasted for over three months, were by this time exhausted. Judge Caverly and his wife left for a vacation on September 11th and Darrow and his wife went to spend a few weeks relaxing with the Loeb family in their Charlevoix home.
The subject of legal fees has been somewhat hotly debated in the years following the trial. At the time, newspapers and the public railed against what they called the “million dollar defense” and imagined the defense team was being bribed with huge amounts of money (and specifically Jewish money) to represent the killers. The families stated that they would let the Bar Association name the fee and pay the appropriate amount, but many remained convinced that excessive amounts of money had been used to bribe the lawyers and judge, even to the extent that the entire hearing had been a sham.
After Darrow died, his wife worked with author Irving Stone to publish a biography about him that spurred the oft-repeated controversy. This book claimed that after the trial had concluded, Darrow asked the Loeb family repeatedly to give him any payment beyond the ten thousand dollar retainer fee he’d gotten when he took the case. He received the rest of his payment, $30,000, when Jacob Loeb walked into his office unannounced, insulted him, and wrote a check more than a year later.
In reality, there was much less scandal. The families paid Darrow a $15,000 retainer and a further $50,000 3-4 months after the trial had concluded. He remained on close terms with the Loeb family, and in particular with Jacob Loeb, whom he had long respected for his philanthropic work.