New evidence uncovered by forensic experts indicates that .32-caliber bullets found in the pocket of anarchist Nicola Sacco 65 years ago matched cartridges found at the scene of one of the nation's most controversial murder cases. The disclosure was announced by the Connecticut State Police forensic laboratory at ceremonies Thursday marking the release of a new manual on forensic evidence.
Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were charged with killing a guard during a bank holdup in Braintree, Mass., on April 15, 1920, convicted in 1921 after a tumultuous trial and electrocuted six years later. Many have contended the two were convicted because of their politics.
"The Peters Company was one of the major U.S. manufacturers of ammunition with worldwide distribution," said Detective Marshall Robinson, a ballistics expert at the laboratory, who developed the new evidence. "For Sacco to have a cartridge from the same machine as a cartridge found that day in Braintree, the chance of coincidence is very slim." Both sets of cartridges, Robinson said, were made on the same machine at the Peters Cartridge Co. of King's Mill, Ohio.
Frank Russell, author of "Tragedy in Dedham," described the new evidence as "certainly a kind of corroboration." Russell, who said he has a new book coming out next spring that should settle some of the debate, believes Sacco was guilty but that questions still remain over Vanzetti's role.