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Joseph Indovino

On February 15, 1941, while escorting the manager of a Coney Island theater to the bank to deposit the day’s earnings, New York City police officer Leon Fox was shot and killed during a robbery. At the time, witnesses said several men had approached in an automobile, stolen the manager’s briefcase, and shot Fox before driving off.
 
After a year and a half of unsuccessful investigation, prosecutors turned to Nathan Spielfogel, a convict serving time for an unrelated crime. In exchange for promises of money, alcohol and women – all of which he received while in prison – Spielfogel provided false testimony against Morris Malinski, implicating Malinski in Fox’s murder.
 
Based on Spielfogel’s false testimony, police arrested Malinski and brought him to a Brooklyn hotel. There, they forced him to strip naked and remain unclothed for four hours as police beat him repeatedly and demanded a confession. Later that night, Malinski confessed under these coercive circumstances. Based on Malinski’s confession and Spielfogel’s testimony, police arrested two other men, Joseph Indovino and Sidney Rudish, in conjunction with Malinski for the murder of Fox.
 
On June 24, 1943, using Spielfogel’s testimony and Malinski’s coerced confession, prosecutors convicted Rudish of Fox’s murder and sentenced him to death. Malinski and lndovino were also convicted. Malinski received the death penalty, and Indovino was sentenced to life without parole.
 
Appealing Malinski’s conviction based on the prosecutor’s use of his illegitimate confession, defense attorneys brought the case to the New York State Court of Appeals, during which the lead prosecutor laid surprisingly bare the state’s attitude towards Malinski’s allegations of abuse: it was “quite proper police procedure.” The prosecutor said that the interrogation was “some more psychology – let him sit around with a blanket on him, humiliate him there for a while; let him sit in the corner, let him think he is going to get a shellacking.”
 
Despite the prosecutor’s statements, the Court of Appeals declined to suppress Malinski’s confession. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Malinski’s appeal, and after reviewing the nature of Malinski’s confession, the Court threw out his confession on March 26, 1945 and sent the case back down for retrial. The convictions of Rudish and Indovino were then reversed as well. The indictment against Rudish was dismissed in May 1946, and Indovino’s indictment had been dismissed prior to that.
 
Malinski, on the other hand, was retried. In Malinski’s retrial, Spielfogel, the primary witness, broke down and admitted that he had colluded with prosecutors to frame Malinski for Fox’s murder. Spielfogel then attempted suicide twice during the trial proceedings. With the confession gone and Spielfogel discredited, the prosecutors were unable to make their case against Malinski, and Malinski was acquitted of all charges on June 29, 1946.
 
– Researched by Mac LeBuhn
State:NY
County:Kings
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1941
Convicted:1943
Exonerated:1946
Sentence:Life
Race:Don't Know
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:24
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation