One of the biggest problems regarding this case was the amount of people who believed that DeSalvo was innocent. Despite his own confessions there seemed to be no physical evidence linking him to the murders. DeSalvo also possessed a prominent beak-like nose, which no witnesses remembered.
Two female witnesses, Marcella Lulka and Gertrude Gruer were called to identify DeSalvo. Lulka had lived in the same block as murder victim Sophie Clark and had been approached on the day of Clark’s murder by a man calling himself ‘Mr Thompson’ who said he had been sent to paint her apartment. The second witness Gruer was the only victim to escape from the Strangler.
Both women couldn’t identify DeSalvo, but ironically they were disturbed when they caught sight of fellow prisoner George Nassar in the same building. Nassar’s posture, movements and physical features were familiar to the stunned women. Ironically this revelation did not go any further.
Could it be that DeSalvo realised that he could win fame and money for his family by claiming to be the Strangler?
It was discovered after several tests that DeSalvo had a photographic memory. It is possible that he could have read every detail of the murders and the circumstances in journals such as the Record American which printed a chart of such facts. DeSalvo may have also broken into the victim’s apartments after they had been killed. But the most contentious aspect was the fact that the murders appeared not be have been committed by the same person. Some of the victims had been old, while others were young. Some had been raped while others had been strangled and then left in degrading positions. Serial killers tend to stick to the same pattern and not deviate in their modus operandi.
DeSalvo’s attorney was determined to try and protect his client from going to the electric chair.
DeSalvo’s confession was inadmissible in court and Bailey felt there were enough indictments against his client in relation to his history of break-ins and assaults that would put him away in prison for life, rather than see him executed for being the Strangler.
On 10 January 1967, Albert DeSalvo was tried. Bailey would try to get the jury to convict DeSalvo on his crimes related to what was known as the ‘Green Man’ attacks when he broke into apartments and molested women. His confession that he had committed thirteen murders would, Bailey hoped, confirm his insanity.
Victims of DeSalvo’s ‘Green Man’ crimes were called. Evidence was heard that DeSalvo had broken into their homes, tied them up and sexually molested, but not raped them. He had then departed after the attacks.
Bailey pressed for a verdict that would take into consideration DeSalvo’s sanity at the time of the assaults. An expert witness testified that DeSalvo was a schizophrenic and that he knew what he was doing in order to get into apartments, but could not control his sexual urges.
The jury eventually found DeSalvo guilty on all counts and he was sentenced to life imprisonment but denied psychiatric help.
Bailey was disappointed that DeSalvo would not receive treatment as he believed this was a unique opportunity to get inside the mind of a killer and discover the triggers or reasons which lead to murder.