Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Robert Garrow

The Predator

On June 27, 1974, with both the prosecution and the defense finished with the presentation of their case, Judge Marthen charged the jury. "If you find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, at the time he acted was not suffering from a mental disease or defect of such a nature that he lacked substantial capacity to know or appreciate the nature and consequence of his conduct and that conduct was wrong...then you must return a verdict of guilty of murder," he said to the court. This was the standard instruction for a finding of "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict.

Although Garrow was obviously a deranged individual, his attorneys had offered no proof that he did not know that killing a human being was wrong. He had run from the police, which indicated guilt, and testified that he had killed before. He also said he had concealed the bodies and expected to go to jail for what he had done. All these facts pointed to a man who knew that murder was wrong. After only two hours of deliberations, the seven-man, five-woman jury reached a verdict.

At 6:22 p.m. that day, the jury returned to the court and announced their verdict. Garrow was found guilty of murder in the first-degree. He accepted the decision without any apparent emotion and was quickly wheeled out of the courtroom after the jury was polled.

On July 1, Garrow was sentenced to 25 years to life. "I'm sorry it happened," he said of the murders. Garrow was transported to upstate Clinton prison, in Dannemora near the Canadian border. Garrow's injuries continued to pain him and he frequently complained of paralysis. But his physical condition may not have been as severe as he made it out to be. A physical exam, conducted before the trial, indicated Garrow was malingering and exaggerating his injuries for his own benefit.

In an affidavit filed February 21, 1974, Doctor Frank Dick wrote his findings. "Robert Garrow's failure to walk is partially subjective...there is no restriction of the movement of Robert Garrow's left leg when he left Physician's Hospital in Plattsburgh, New York on September 19, 1973," the doctor wrote. Furthermore, he pointed out "the alleged problem regarding his back is in the opinion of your deponent entirely subjective because there is no apparent cause for this problem as the gunshot wound received in the back was entirely superficial." Under constant surveillance by the Correction Department and pumped full of painkillers, which he demanded for his alleged injuries, Garrow fell into the routine of prison life. But for attorneys Francis Belge and Frank Armani, the trouble was just beginning.

The public fury over their conduct in the defense of Garrow grew into a firestorm following the revelations that the two lawyers had withheld the location of the bodies of Susan Petz and Alicia Hauck.

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