Guilty or Innocent Harry Hoffman, Sam Leibowitz and Maude Bauer Part 3

About the murder of Maude Bauer, the trial of Harry Hoffman, and the legal heroics of lawyer Sam Leibowitz

Harry Hoffman--A Twin by Circumstances

First, he proved that Barbara Fahs couldn't identify Hoffman the first two times he was shown to her. Her positive identification had emerged only after several conferences with detectives. Next, the reel-boy, Whittet, admitted he had contrived the "lonely road" conversation after applying for probation from a Peeping Tom conviction. Another reel-boy testified that Prosecutor Fach had hit him with a ruler when he made a statement that Hoffman's only pair of tortoiseshell glasses were hanging in the projection room the day of the murder.

Harry Butts's credentials were impeccable, his former testimony certain: Hoffman's gun had killed Maude Bauer. But seeing is believing, and after having his own formidable experts refute Butts's findings, Leibowitz let the jurors see for themselves who was right. He placed one bullet shell found next to Maude Bauer's body and another fired from Hoffman's gun on the twin stages of a comparison microscope. As each juror gazed into the microscope, he saw two shells with entirely different markings. Then, using the angle of the bullet path in Maude Bauer's chest, Leibowitz proved that the murderer was right-handed and, to the astonishment of the entire courtroom, that Hoffman was decidedly left-handed!

Lastly, he carefully unwound the sticky web of false alibis in which Hoffman had so pitifully entwined himself. On the stand, Hoffman admitted he had lied, but only because he had been sick with fear when the murderer proved to be his forensic twin.

When the trial opened, odds-makers were betting 6 to 1 that Hoffman would get the chair. When Leibowitz concluded his impassioned summation, there was not a dry eye in the courtroom, and nobody was giving better than even money.

"We find the defendant not guilty!" announced the foreman of the jury. As Hoffman was led away from the cheering crowd, he was embraced by his former wife. "I'm getting a divorce," she said. "I haven't seen my husband for three years. I want to start over again with you."

Horatio Sharrett quietly returned to his real estate business on Staten Island.

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