1. A Family Man
During his trial that lasted 10 days, Fish’s attorney, James Dempsey—a former prosecutor and once the mayor of Peekskill, New York—attempted to persuade the jurors that Fish was a family man who was himself the victim of an abusive childhood. Dempsey told the court:
In spite of all these brutal, criminal and vicious proclivities, there is another side to this defendant. He has been a very fine father. He never once in his life laid a hand on one of his children. He says grace at every meal in his house. In 1917, when the youngest one of his six children was three, his wife left him. And from that time down until shortly before the Grace Budd murder in 1928 he was a mother and father to those children.
Dempsey also tried to use an insanity defense. He asked the jurors if a man who had killed and eaten children could really be sane? There was no doubt among the jurors that Fish was insane, but they all found him guilty and sane anyway. The judge sentenced Fish to death.
On January 16, 1936, Fish was sent to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. His last words were: “I don’t even know why I’m here.”