Jesse Pomeroy May 15, 2007 15:32:39 GMT -5
Post by Brad-LaSpirits on May 15, 2007 15:32:39 GMT -5
Jesse Harding Pomeroy (November 29, 1859–September 29, 1932) was the youngest person convicted of the crime of murder in the first degree in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Jesse Pomeroy was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, to Thomas and Ruthann Pomeroy. He was the second of two children; his brother Charles was a year older. Pomeroy's father was extremely abusive to him and his brother, often taking them to their wood shed where he stripped them naked and beat them severely.
 Reported attacks in 1871–1872
In 1871–1872, there were reports that several young boys were individually enticed to remote areas and attacked by a slightly older boy. These attacks were incredibly brutal, leaving the boys scarred for life. However, no one was ever arrested. If Jesse Pomeroy was responsible, he would have been 12-13 years old.
There must have been some discord in the Pomeroy household, as Ruthann and the two children moved to South Boston in 1872. Pomeroy's attacks on young boys continued, and he was finally arrested and his case heard in front of a juvenile court judge. Pomeroy was found guilty and sentenced to the Lyman School for Boys at Westborough, Massachusetts, for his minority (i.e., until he turned 18). The Boston Globe covered this story; the last line of the article: "It is generally concluded that the boy is mentally deficient."
Despite the severity of Pomeroy's crimes, he was released after serving only 15 months. Harold Schechter, a professor at Queens College, City University of New York and an expert on serial killers, wrote a book about Pomeroy and mentioned that there was never a youngster in the state that had been charged with crimes as brutal as this. The police and court system were attacked after Pomeroy's murders were revealed.
 The crime
In February 1874 at the age of 14, Pomeroy was paroled back to his mother and brother in South Boston. His mother ran her own dressmaking shop, and his brother Charles sold newspapers.
In March 1874, a ten-year-old girl from South Boston named Katie Curran went suddenly missing. On April 24, 1874, the body of four-year-old Horace Millen was found on the marsh of Dorchester Bay. Immediately, the police detectives sought out Pomeroy.
 The trial
Late in his life, Pomeroy still held that he committed the crime. However, his right to due process was farcical. He was taken to view the body of Millen and asked if he committed the murder. At the coroner's inquest, Pomeroy was denied the right to counsel.
The case of Commonwealth v. Pomeroy was heard in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (Suffolk County, Boston) on December 9 and December 10, 1874. At the trial, the Attorney General argued for a verdict of guilty in the murder of first degree. In his closing arguments, however, he urged an alternative charge of murder with extreme atrocity, which, according to Massachusetts law, is first degree murder, but differs from the original charge in the requirement of premeditation.
Pomeroy was pronounced guilty on December 10, 1874, with the jury's recommendation of mercy on account of the prisoner's youth.
Pomeroy's attorney, Charles Robinson, filed two exceptions which were overruled in February 1875, at which point Pomeroy was sentenced to hang until dead.
 After the trial
It remained for the Governor to sign the death warrant and assign a date for Pomeroy's execution. However, Governor William Gaston refused to comply with this executive responsibility. The only legal means of sparing Pomeroy's life was through the Governor's Council, and only if a simple majority of the nine-member Council voted to commute the death penalty. Over the next year and a half, the Council voted three times: the first two votes upheld Pomeroy's execution, and both times Governor Gaston refused to sign the death warrant. In August 1876, the Council took a third vote, anonymously, and Pomeroy's sentence was commuted to life in prison in solitary confinement. On the evening of September 7, 1876, Pomeroy was transferred from the Suffolk County Jail to the State Prison at Charlestown, and began his life in solitary. He was 16 years and 10 months old.
In 1917, Pomeroy's sentence was commuted to the extent of allowing him the privileges afforded to other life prisoners. At first he resisted this, wanting nothing less than a pardon, but he eventually did adjust to his changed circumstances, and even appeared in a minstrel show at the prison. In 1929, by this time an elderly man in frail health, he was transferred to Bridgewater Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he died on September 29, 1932, at the age of 72.