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Stranger Than Fiction: A Criminal Defense Attorney's Memoir

by Richard Siracusa

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True crime stories covering the more than forty year career of a defense attorney who tried to verdict more than twenty homicide cases. A number of these cases and other cases which might be of interest to the reader are described in narrative form and include the story of the defense of a serial killer and the defense of a Russian woman accused along with her mother of murdering her grandmother and grandfather. Both cases involved the defense of insanity. The serial killer was a psychotic racist who terrorized New York City for one day in December of 1980. Previously he had wantonly murdered ten young black men in Buffalo, N.Y. before killing four more in New York City and wounded two others. The Russian women were accused of killing the grandparents while suffering from a folie a deux or shared paranoid delusion. Folie a deux is roughly translated as "the madness of two". The story describes the murder scene which was described in the media as an occult killing, the tragic circumstances leading up to murders and the mental state of the women which precipitated the murders.
The book begins with my life immediately after college and my near fatal experience in the Marine Corps. Shortly after I left the Marine Corps I moved to New York City. I always had a vague notion about becoming a lawyer so that summer I took the Law School Aptitude Test. I did not start law school until a few years after taking the LSAT. During the interim I had a job as a buyers assistant with the famous men's clothier Brooks Brothers and then with the Public Health Service as an epidemiologist tracking down the sexual contacts of those infected with venereal disease. Most of those I dealt with were gay men living in the upper west side of Manhattan. I describe my life as an epidemiologist before the AIDS virus had been identified. Some of it amusing and most of it gritty and shocking. My life as a state sponsored vampire extracting viles of blood from those who might be infected came to an abrupt end due to excessive lateness but I did manage to set a record for those brought to treatment when I talked a prostitute out of her little black book which contained the names of more than four hundred of her customers. Most of the customers were Chinese men living on the lower east side. I then started a job as a caseworker for the New York City Department of Social Services where I learned more about drug addiction and criminality than I had ever known previously.
It formed the basis of learning about the population who lived on the fringes of society and with whom I would deal with for my entire life as a criminal defense attorney. Also during this period of time, I finally applied to law school but not before I took at least two unauthorized vacations to Europe. At the end of one of those unauthorized sojourns I walked into the office of the Attorney-in-Chief of the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division and asked for a job as a paralegal before the word was invented. I had been admitted to the evening division of New York Law School and needed to support myself accepting no money from my parents. I was assigned to work with a Legal Aid lawyer who specialized in post conviction remedies. As part of my job, I was obliged to travel to Rikers Island Correctional Facility once per week where I had to deal with many dangerously psychotic inmates and an equally psychotic lawyer who was my mentor. My last two years as a paralegal was spent in Manhattan doing bail applications as a senior law student in the Supreme Court on behalf of individuals whose original bail was thought to be too high. Most of these stories are amusing.
You can read the table of contents of the names of the few other trials of the more than three hundred I have conducted in my career. A rare glimpse into the secret world of the criminal courts. The descriptions in this book are not for the feint of heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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