Death penalty in Massachusetts used to be a capital punishment until 1984 when death penalty was abolished. Nonetheless, the state of Massachusetts has been a witness to 345 executions in total prior to the abolishing of the death penalty. There have been a lot of attempts to reinstate the use of death penalty in Massachusetts, however, all had been unsuccessful. The residents of Massachusetts, in general, seems to be against the punishment as well.
This article will discuss some gritty facts regarding the death penalty in Massachusetts. Including the most famous recipients of the punishment in the course of history.
History of Death Penalty in Massachusetts
In colonial times, the state of Massachusetts was among the very first to implement the death penalty. During the early times, the death penalty was carried out through hanging as the primary method. Later on, the state transgressed into a more modern approach to the death penalty with the use of an electric chair.
The First Death Penalty Case
In 1630, John Billington was the first person executed in Massachusetts. Billington was an Englishman who travelled the new world through the Mayflower. He was also one of the people to sign the Mayflower Compact. John Billington was tried by a jury and hung for the murder of John Newcomen, whom many believed was Billington’s enemy.
Salem Witch Trials and Executions
The trial, conviction and execution of witch Bridget Bishop in 1692 rose the number of executions in the state by 20. In the course of history, it is said that a total of no less than 26 witches were executed for witchcraft. Out of that twenty-six, 19 were executed by hanging in Salem 1692 as a result of the famous, Salem Witch Trials.
The First Electric Chair Execution
It was around 1900s when the electric chair was installed in the state. It was Luigi Storti who was first executed using the electric chair in Charlestown 1901. Storti was convicted of a “crime of passion” after he killed the man who stole the heart of the woman he loves.
On April 15, 1920, Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti robbed and murdered Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli in Braintree, Massachusetts. The two men guilty of the crime were Italian immigrants and loyal followers of Luigi Galleani. Prior to the event, Vanzetti was already tried and convicted for a separate robbery crime despite the alibis that 16 witnesses made for him.
In 1925, a man named Celestino Madeiros was awaiting conviction for a different murder and confessed to committing the Braintree murder. Sacco and Vanzetti’s lawyer submitted an appeal to reopen the case in hopes of getting a different conviction but the judge denied the claim. Judge Webster Thayer said, even if he was to allow the reopening of the case, it is unlikely that a jury would provide a different result for the case.
The Last Death Penalty Execution
Phillip Bellino and Edward Gertson were the last people to be executed on May 9, 1947. The two were tried and convicted for the murder of Robert William. Bellino and Gertson were both electrocuted in Charleston State Prison. It was after their electrocution that a commission was put up to evaluate the effectiveness of death penalty.
A Twist in the History of Death Penalty in Massachusetts
In 2015, an unexpected turn in the history of death penalty in the state of Massachusetts happened. Preceding the Boston Marathon Bombing, the accused, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was given the death penalty as a punishment for his involvement in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Rumors circulated that the punishment had been carried out even before it was officially out. Why? It was said that jury selection was aimed towards giving out the said punishment.
With everything that is happening nowadays, I guess you could call it a stroke of luck for criminals that the death penalty no longer exists. Nonetheless, serious punishments still await anybody who goes against the law. That being said, it is very important to seek legal advice when being charged with a crime in Massachusetts.