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Lizzie Borden

Verdict of “Not Guilty”

On June 20, 1893 the verdict came back of “Not Guilty.” The jury took only one hour and a half to return with their verdict. The evidence was too circumstantial and Victorian sensibilities could not wrap itself around the possibility that a middle aged spinster could commit such a heinous crime against her father. As stated in a The New York Times editorial:

“It will be a certain relief to every right-minded man or woman who has followed the case to learn that the jury at New Bedford has not only acquitted Miss LIZZIE BORDEN of the atrocious crime with which she was charged, but has done so with a promptness that was very significant. The acquittal of this most unfortunate and cruelly persecuted woman was, by its promptness, in effect, a condemnation of the police authorities of Fall River and of the legal officers who secured the indictment and have conducted the trial. It was a declaration, not only that the prisoner was guiltless, but that there never was any serious reason to suppose that she was guilty. She has escaped the awful fate with which she was threatened, but the long imprisonment she has undergone, the intolerable suspense and anguish inflicted upon her, the outrageous injury to her feelings as a woman and as a daughter, are chargeable directly to the police and legal authorities. That she should have been subjected to these is a shame to Massachusetts which the good sense of the jury in acquitting her only in part removes.” (Kent, p. 314)

Lizzie seemed to have been vindicated of all guilt, at least in the minds of those sensibilities who did not live in Fall River. It was easy for the reporters and editors who lived in the cosmopolitan cities to condemn the legal proceedings of a small city who would point a finger at a sensitive and loving daughter. But to the citizenry of Fall River who now had a “fallen” woman now living amongst them and no one in custody for the murders, it was a hard pill to swallow. Lizzie still had a certain stigma of guilt on her head and, if she did not commit the murders, than who did and were they still at large in Fall River? Lizzie Borden could now start her life up again, but could Fall River’s citizens be able to?


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