Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lindbergh Kidnapping

The Sentence

After twenty-nine court sessions, 162 witnesses, and 381 exhibits, the case was given to the jury at 11:21 a.m., Wednesday, February 13, 1935. Eleven and a half hours later the jurors returned, reportedly after five ballots that began seven for guilty, five for acquittal, finally ending with a unanimous vote of guilty.

Judge Trenchard pronounced the sentence of death, to be carried out the week of March 18, 1935. Because of the inevitable appeal, he postponed the execution of the sentence to June.

In his diary entry for February 14, 1935, Harold Nicolson described the Lindberghs' reaction to the verdict and sentence.

"Suddenly Betty [Mrs. Morrow] ... looked very white. 'Hauptmann,' she said, 'has been condemned to death without mercy.' We went into the drawing room. The wireless had been turned on to the scene outside the courthouse. One could hear the almost diabolic yelling of the crowd. 'You have now heard,' broke in the voice of the announcer, 'the verdict in the most famous trial in all history. Bruno Hauptmann now stands guilty of the foulest ...' Then we all went into the pantry. Charles sat there on the kitchen dresser. 'I don't know,' he said to me, ' whether you have followed this case very carefully. There is no doubt at all that Hauptmann did the thing. I am sure about this quite sure.' And then quite quietly, while we all sat round in the pantry, he went through the case point by point. It seemed to relieve all of them. He did it very quietly, very simply."


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