The Alice Crimmins Case
Alice Takes the Stand
At her first trial, Alice Crimmins took the witness stand in her own defense. She spoke in a thin voice that did not carry well so the judge recessed the court until the next day so a microphone could be installed in front of her.
Baron took her through her background and marital troubles. When the questions turned to her children, Crimmins began to shake uncontrollably and tears began streaming down her heavily made-up face. Judge Farrell declared a recess but the trial had to be postponed until the next day because Crimmins had fallen into a semi-faint.
She repeated the story she had told the police of her activities on the terrible night her children disappeared. She strongly denied that she had ever confessed killing Missy to Joe Rorech.
Crimmins was aggressively and belligerently cross-examined by prosecutor Tony Lombardino. Due to the rules of evidence in New York courtrooms, he had complete leeway to delve into anything that might reflect adversely on her character even if it had no direct connection to the issues at trial. He used that leeway to bring out every possible detail of Alice Crimminss active love life. This was 1968 when the sexual revolution was in its infancy and the working-class people of Queens were outraged by active non-marital sex, especially by a woman. Some of their exchanges were quite lurid. Lombardino established that Crimmins knew a fellow named Carl Andrade and that he had visited her at 1:00AM during her separation from Eddie when the children were in their room sleeping.
LOMBARDINO: Where specifically in your apartment was Andrade?
CRIMMINS: In my bedroom.
LOMBARDINO: Where were you, Mrs. Crimmins?
CRIMMINS: In the bedroom with him, sir.
LOMBARDINO: I see. Did your husband come into the apartment that morning? [As previously noted, Eddie Crimmins was often, unknown to Alice, in the basement of the home listening to her activities through the wiretaps he had installed.]
CRIMMINS: Yes, he did.
LOMBARDINO: What did he do when he got there?
CRIMMINS: We werent doing anything at the moment.
LOMBARDINO: You werent doing anything? How was Carl Andrade dressed?
CRIMMINS: He was in a state of undress.
LOMBARDINO: Will you tell the men of this jury panel what you mean by a state of undress?
CRIMMINS: Just what I said, sir. A state of undress.
LOMBARDINO: What was your condition of attire?
CRIMMINS: I was also in a state of undress.
LOMBARDINO: Did your husband see Carl Andrade?
CRIMMINS: Yes, he did.
LOMBARDINO: What did he do when he saw Carl Andrade.
CRIMMINS: They had a scuffle and Eddie chased him.
LOMBARDINO: Was Andrade in a state of undress when Eddie chased him?
CRIMMINS: Yes, he was.
LOMBARDINO: How did he get his clothing, Mrs. Crimmins?
CRIMMINS: I got dressed and brought them out to him.
LOMBARDINO: Where was he when you brought him his clothes?
CRIMMINS: In his car.
In another particularly damaging exchange, Lombardino was able to juxtapose the pitiful deaths of her children with the apparently callous hijinks of their promiscuous mother.
LOMBARDINO: Does Joe Rorech have a swimming pool?
CRIMMINS: He does.
LOMBARDINO: Did you swim in it?
CRIMMINS: Yes, I did.
LOMBARDINO: What were you wearing when you swam in Joe Rorechs pool?
CRIMMINS: One time, a bathing suit; one time, no bathing suit.
LOMBARDINO: And where were your children while you were swimming in Joe Rorechs pool without a bathing suit?
CRIMMINS: They were dead.
Alice Crimmins left the stand on shaky legs. She knew that she had damaged herself in the eyes of the conservative, old-fashioned men who made up the jury and indeed, one of the jurors, Sam Ehrlich, commented to another that, A tramp like that is capable of anything.