Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Kitty Genovese Murder

'I Intended to Kill Her'

Moseley Tells How He Killed 3 The Daily News, June 11, 1964 (photo by author)
Moseley Tells How He Killed 3 The
Daily News, June 11, 1964
(photo by author)

The trial of Winston Moseley opened on June 8, 1964. Though he originally pled "not guilty," his attorney, Sidney G. Sparrow, changed the plea at the last moment to "not guilty by reason of insanity." Since Moseley had already provided detectives with a signed confession, which described exactly how he had performed the killing, there were not many options left to the defense. Many of the details of the murder made public were derived from the written confession, and to plead "not guilty" to the charges seemed ludicrous. Much to the chagrin of the defense team, however, Moseley was pronounced sane by a state psychiatrist.

Four residents of the Kew Gardens neighborhood testified at the trial. One of them, Miss Picq, said that she saw Catherine Genovese lying in the street. "The poor girl got up slowly, walking to the parking lot. I heard two last screams for help, but couldn't see her then," she said tearfully. Another resident, Robert Mozer said he yelled at the assailant who then ran away. "I hollered, 'Hey get out of there! What are you doing?' He jumped up and ran like a scared rabbit, took off real quick," he told the court.

But it was Moseley himself who provided both drama and revulsion to the packed courtroom. He testified on the morning of June 11, called to the stand by his own attorney, in the hope that the jury would see Winston Moseley was insane. Dressed in a neat, short-sleeved white shirt and speaking in a detached, clear voice, he answered almost every question in an even-handed manner. Sparrow asked his client about previous crimes and Moseley admitted that he had stabbed and killed 15-year-old Barbara Kralik on July 20, 1963. Moseley also confessed on the stand to the shooting murder of Anne Mae Johnson on February 29, 1964.

He said he shot Annie Johnson repeatedly on the night of February 20. "I intended to kill her," he told the court. "I didn't think she was dead so I shot her again." When he turned her over, Moseley said he saw that she was dead. "I decided to rape her," he said without emotion. Then he dragged her body into her home where he set fire to her naked body in her living room. In the Kralik murder, Mosley said he wanted to rape the teenager but was scared away by someone in the house. "I looked at her for maybe a few seconds. Then I put my knife into her. As I was stabbing her, she squirmed free from my grip. I put my hand over her mouth and I stabbed her some more," he said to a hushed courtroom.

When it was time to describe the Genovese murder, Moseley said that he went out on the night of March 13 for the purpose of killing someone. "I went out that night intending to kill a woman," he told the court. "When I got such a thought, it remained with me regardless of what else I might be thinking," he said. "I had a hunting knife that I had taken from a previous burglary, and I took that with me," he added. Moseley said that he followed Catherine from her car in the railroad parking lot to a nearby building where he stabbed her the first time. "I plunged the knife into her back twice. She fell down," he said. He saw lights come on in the building across the street and then returned to his car to move it. "I realized the car was parked where people could see it and me, so I moved it some distance away," he said.

Moseley heard some of the tenants of the building yell down at him, but he said he was unconcerned. "I had a feeling this man would close his window, and go back to sleep," he said to cops, "and sure enough, he did."

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