It is still unclear as to whether the ‘Red Light Bandit’ was a single person – many claim it was simply a useful moniker used to describe the acts of a number of criminals. Despite such speculation, Chessman was charged with the entire crime spree attributed to the Bandit.
In some cases the evidence strongly pointed to Chessman. Two women testified that he had robbed and sexually assaulted them by making them perform fellatio after they had persuaded him not to rape them.
In all, evidence pointed to his involvement in 17 cases, ranging from robbery to kidnapping. Unfortunately for Chessman, the ‘Little Lindbergh’ law, which was passed in California in 1933 after the public outcry over the Lindbergh case, enforced severe penalties on kidnappers.
Chessman found himself facing a far more serious sentence when the prosecution successfully argued that he had ‘kidnapped’ his victims by moving them some distance from their cars. Any crime relating to the Lindbergh law meant either life in prison or the death sentence.