Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Francis "Two Gun" Crowley

'I'm Only a Little Fellow!'

Francis Crowley going to court under guard
Francis Crowley going to
court under guard

On May 28, Crowley took the stand to give his version of events, showing no remorse whatsoever for the death of Hirsch. His appearance was meant to convince the jury that he was a "moral imbecile," as his attorney described him in the opening statement. Crowley told the jury that he never finished school and couldn't read or write. "Listen, I'm only a little fellow," he said, "and I've been kicked around all my life by a lot of guys who were bigger and tougher than I was. I got pretty sick of it too!" He said that he also had two serious falls when he was younger, which rendered him unconscious and presumably more likely to kill a cop. Crowley said he committed his first crime in 1929 when he began to steal neighborhood automobiles so he could take friends for a ride. He said he became involved in a shootout at the American Legion in the Bronx the year before and decided that he liked it so much that he would become a "hold-up man." Crowley said that he went to Philadelphia where he bought "two guns, two blackjacks, two pairs of brass knuckles" and ammunition.

Crowley's two guns (police evidence)
Crowley's two guns
(police evidence)

"When I've got a gun in my hand," he said, "I'm as big as the biggest cop, get me? And when I have my shootin' irons, I'm not afraid of anybody, see?" Crowley showed no remorse for killing Hirsch. "I shot three times, winged him in the arms and he started to slip," he said. "But his hand with the gun was still inside the car and then I fired about five more." Crowley said he "grabbed the gun the cop had. I was pretty nervoused up!" Prosecutors pointed out that Crowley's statements were different than those he gave to detectives after his arrest when he told reporters: "He was laying there on the ground and I couldn't stand to see the poor devil suffer! So I got out and fired two more shots into him so he'd die quicker! You should have seen that other cop run when I started pegging those shots!"

On the morning of May 29, only 23 days after the killing of Officer Fred Hirsch, the jury found Francis "Two Gun" Crowley guilty of first-degree murder. They deliberated less than 25 minutes. A death sentence was mandatory under state law. Crowley accepted the verdict without uttering a word. But on the way out of court, he tried to stop to say goodbye to his foster mother who was in the front row. Guards restrained him and Crowley immediately went on a rampage. He attacked a deputy sheriff and prison guards. The police, who were at the doors of the courtroom, joined in the melee as the brawl spilled into the spectator's gallery. People screamed and ran for cover as Crowley elbowed cops in the face and swung his manacled arms at the guards. Cops used their blackjacks on the crazed teenager and dragged him screaming from the courtroom. In the hallway that led from the courtroom to the jail, guards could be seen beating on Crowley while he cursed them loudly for everyone to hear.

"It was those policemen again," Anne Crowley told the press, "It's always that way. They wouldn't let me kiss him!" Outside the sight of the jury, Crowley was placed in a straight jacket as he spit in the faces of angry cops. Following the verdict, the jury foreman thanked the police for their conduct during the trial. "We want to express our appreciation to the district attorney and his staff," he told reporters from The New York Times, "and to the police for their treatment of the prisoner since his capture."

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