The Court was in recess. The jury had left the room and the judge had gone to his chambers. I stayed at my table – mapping out plans for the next witness. The defendant – William H. – was seated at the defense table with two armed guards behind him. William H. was on trial for the murder of two pharmacists in a small pharmacy at Madison and Halsted in Chicago. William had also murdered some 15 others – one by one by one. All were murder for hire but these others were not of consequence in this trial. My job and that of my partner was to put the killer on death row.
William’s table was perhaps ten feet away. He sat there alone. His two public defenders had left the courtroom and it was just him and me (and the guards). During the course of the 3-1/2 week trial there was occasion when he’d look at me and say “good morning” and ever the polite Boy Scout I would respond “good morning.“
As I sat – pondering the next witness and considering a quick trip to the bathroom – William looked over “Hey Mister State’s Attorney.”
“You going out to that little food stand in the hall?” [There was a small concession stand outside the courtroom]
“I dunno. I might.”
“If you do, would you get me a candy bar?”
I chewed on this for a bit and responded “sure – what would you like?”
“A Baby Ruth would be great. If you don’t mind.” I looked at the guards who shrugged.
“Sure” and I got up, walked out of the courtroom, went to the bathroom and then to the concession stand. Baby Ruth. And brought it back and set it on his table.
“Thanks” said William as he began to power through the chocolate.
This happened once or twice more during the remaining days of the trial. William was convicted of the murders and the jury polled for the death penalty. He sat on death row for about three years until an appeal nullified the sentence. Some years later I got a letter from William. From prison. Saying that one day he wanted to talk to me. I never responded. And yes – I set the alarm system in my house every night. If he ever does stop by, I’m hoping he’ll remember the Baby Ruth. . . . .