NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 41

Johnson and Miller argued the defense case to the jury. Johnson compared Farley to John Brown, saying that Farley was a symbol of the unfairness of a system with property laws “which rob the poor to make the rich richer…. The state’s solution is to kill Farley,” Johnson declared. “But does that solve any problem? What are we in America going to do, when 10 million people have been driven to the same point of desperation as Farley?” Miller, who followed Johnson, was described as a “slight and soft-spoken Negro,” who with “biting irony” attacked the distortions in police testimony, which tried to paint Farley as a dangerous, cunning cold-blooded murderer. Miller, a reporter noted, spoke in his inimitable style: “rapidly, with eyes closed, never faltering for a word, Miller implored the jury to set Farley free.” 29 The defense had presented such a sympathetic portrait of Farley that the wives of the two victims had no ill will toward him. The jury deliberated seven hours and came in with a conviction of manslaughter. The courtroom was quiet inside, “but outside,” the Eagle reported, “pandemonium broke loose among the spectators who shouted and cried and laughed from sheer gratitude that justice had prevailed at least half-way — and Mrs. Farley covered the face of Loren Miller with kisses and tears.” 30 In a second trial, the same jury found Farley sane. Farley was sentenced on two counts from one to ten years in the penitentiary, the sentences to run consecutively. The defense planned to appeal, if it could raise the funds to defray the costs. A benefit billed as a salute to Spain was held to raise funds for the case. Miller wrote a letter to Mrs. Bass thanking her for support. “The widespread publicity you gave to this case,” Miller remarked, “and the manner in which you pointed out the real issues led, we are sure, to a thorough understanding of it on the part of your readers.” 31 Farley’s life ended tragically two years later, when he committed suicide by leaping from a fifth floor tier at San Quentin, seriously injuring a white inmate, as he plunged to his death. 32 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE The defense case sought to impeach police testimony that Farley came out on the porch, during the shootout, cursed the officers, and fired several shots. It showed the police had told a different story in an earlier proceeding. The heart of the defense, however, was evidence that Farley was deranged, during the shooting. Farley — who had told a reporter from the Eagle, before the trial began, that he was insane, when he killed the deputies — testified in the case. He said he was “blind, all out of my mind or something,” and “I don’t remember anything except I was blind.” He indicated he had little education and had left school at 14 years of age to work, barely able to read. He had contracted syphilis, when he was 18, and had never received medical treatment, except for a blood tonic he administered himself. 27 The defense called two psychiatrists, one of whom was Dr. Samuel Sperling, who testified Farley was in an unconscious or disassociated state, when he shot the two deputies. Loren Miller led Dr. Samuel Sperling through his testimony in which he described the ravages to Farley’s mind and body from the untreated syphilis, which rendered him temporarily insane and unconscious from shock. A second psychiatrist, the famous Samuel Marcus, also testified that the shock from the deputies’ eviction rendered Farley unconscious, at the moment of the shooting. 28 39 The prosecution sought to prove the defendant was guilty of first-degree murder and deserved the death penalty. The prosecution presented psychiatrists who testified the defendant knew the difference between right and wrong and had intent to kill. Graphic evidence was presented that Farley shot the two deputies in the back, nearly tearing the heart out of the body of one victim. A police officer who had witnessed the shooting said Farley was ‘unconscious,’ when he pulled the trigger: “Farley was just standing there, saying nothing,” the officer testified. “He stood there staring… staring.” 26