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Edward Larkman


Convicted of the first-degree murder of Ward Pierce, a paymaster of the Art Metal Shop in Buffalo, New York, in 1925, Edward Larkman was exonerated eight years later after a Buffalo gangster named Anthony Kalkiewicz, confessed to the crime during an interrogation for his involvement in another crime.
 
On August 12, 1925, Ward Pierce was robbed and killed by three gunmen, one of whom was wearing dark glasses. Based on the eyewitness testimony, Larkman was arrested and charged with the crime. On March 4, 1926, Larkman was convicted of first-degree murder. In his defense, Larkman claimed that he was attending a wedding reception at the time of the crime. However, the jury found the testimony of one sole identifying witness more convincing. Larkman’s conviction rested largely on the testimony of a woman witness who swore positively that she recognized him as one of the bandits. During the investigation, no line-up was used for identifying suspects. Instead, Larkman was forced to stand alone under a bright light and asked to put on and remove some dark glasses. Although some eyewitnesses did not recognize Larkman, a more vocal eyewitness muted their voices.
 
Despite Larkman’s continued claims of innocence, the jury convicted him after deliberating forty-three hours. He was sentenced to die in the electric chair, and the highest court in New York affirmed his conviction. However, in 1927, just before Larkman was to be electrocuted, Governor Alfred Smith commuted his sentence to life imprisonment, believing that his guilt had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
 
Two years later, on April 12, 1929, a Buffalo gangster named Anthony Kalkiewicz confessed to the murder of Ward Pierce. Larkman then applied for a pardon and Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt directed that a full investigation be conducted. On December 18, 1933, Larkman was unconditionally pardoned by Roosevelt’s successor, Governor Herbert Lehman.
 
- Researched by Byungkwon Kim
State:NY
County:Erie
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1925
Convicted:1926
Exonerated:1933
Sentence:Death
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:24
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID