Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Francis "Two Gun" Crowley

The Trial

The wheels of justice turned a lot faster during the 1930s than today. By May 25, an astonishing 19 days after the slaying of Hirsch, prosecutors were ready for trial. During jury selection in Nassau County, which lasted two days, Crowley sat in the courtroom chewing gum and smiling at the prospective jury pool. As he examined each juror, he made derogatory remarks loud enough for the court to hear. He referred to one as "baldy" and another as "too slick looking." Surrounded by three guards at all times, Crowley took charge of his own defense and barked orders to his defense counsel, Charles Weeks. "I'm poison to those guys who'll be on that jury," Crowley complained. "They'll give me the business for killin' that copper if it's the last thing they ever do!" But once the jury was acceptable to both sides, testimony began on May 26.

Francis Crowley mugshot & prints
Francis Crowley mugshot &

District Attorney Edwards began his opening statement by telling the court that Crowley was a vicious killer who never gave Hirsch a chance. He said the teenager was a career criminal who deserved the death penalty despite his age. As Edwards gave the opening statement, Crowley grinned and frequently turned to the spectators behind him to smile at the numerous young girls in the audience. Before entering the courtroom, Crowley always primped up his hair and kept up a neat appearance. He wanted to look good for his fans and he frequently bantered with spectators during breaks in the trial.

First to take the stand was Helen Walsh, still feeling the terror of the siege on West 90th Street. She said that she went for a ride with three other youths in Crowley's car the night before the killing. She didn't know the car was stolen but suspected it wasn't his. When Crowley parked the car on Black Shirt Lane after midnight on May 6, she became a little frightened, she said. At the same moment she saw two cops approach the car from the back, and she described the ensuing shootout. She also said that Crowley broke away the windshield to destroy the bullet holes and also switched license plates before he drove into New York City.

The two passengers in the car the night before also took the stand. They told the court that Crowley admitted shooting a New York detective in Manhattan who tried to arrest him and that Crowley said he would "shoot it out with any cop who tried to take me!" Patrolman Peter Eudyce testified that when Crowley opened up on Hirsch, he had almost returned to the police car. When the shooting started, he said, he fell to the ground on the slippery grass but managed to empty his six-shot revolver at Crowley. Then, Eudyce said tearfully, he watched helplessly as the red Ford sped away while his partner lay dying in front of his eyes.

"That's him," Eudyce said, pointing to Crowley who slumped down into his seat. "That's the guy who shot Fred Hirsch! That's him!"