Rights offering detail :
The Crime of the Century: Richard Speck and the Murders That Shocked a Nation
Feb. 11, 2019
Dennis Breo & Wm. J. Martin (Prosecutor)
Television rights
A detective cuts the police tape and five men enter the scene of the crime, a small, boxy, two-story townhouse on the south side of Chicago. Here, some 13 days earlier, Richard Franklin Speck, a drifter from Dallas, had broken into the townhouse, which served as a dorm for six American nursing students and three Filipino exchange nurses, and savagely stabbed, strangled, and killed eight young women in a violent sexual rampage. One nurse, the tiny Corazon Amurao, miraculously survived by hiding under a bed behind a hanging blanket. Cora's eyewitness description and a match of fingerprints left on a bedroom door had identified Speck as the killer. Now, as the five men step around congealed blood on the floors of the upstairs bedrooms, Speck's killing fields, they vow to bring the killer to justice. Team Speck, as the prosecutors will come to be known, are led by Bill Martin, 29, the father of four, including two young daughters. Earlier this day, Martin had locked in his office safe a priceless piece of evidence – 22 pages of handwritten notes and townhouse diagrams provided by a Filipino translator who had interviewed Cora in her native Tagalog. It tells Martin exactly how Speck, who had been whiling away the hours in a seaman's hiring hall across the street from the townhouse, had carried out his barbaric attack.
Martin, charged with prosecuting Chicago's most-famous killer since Al Capone, hardens his heart and steels himself for the hard work ahead. He tells his colleagues: “If we win this case, nobody will ever remember us; if we lose it, nobody will ever forget us.”

As the 14-hour days blur into months, the young prosecutor has one overriding concern—protecting the emotional and psychological health of his star witness. Only three months removed from a rural hamlet in the Philippines, Cora has survived a night of unimaginable evil and could easily repress her terrifying memories. While Speck was raping his final victim, the horrified Cora was only a few feet away, under a bunk bed, eyes closed and head pressed against the floor, furiously praying. After the killer had disappeared into the night, she slowly loosened the bindings on her ankles and wrists, crawled out of her hiding space, walked over the dead bodies of her friends, pushed open a bedroom window, climbed onto a townhouse ledge, and screamed for 20 minutes: “They are all dead! Oh, my God, they are all dead!”

Martin knows he must protect the fragile Cora, or his case may be lost. Reporters want interviews about her story of survival and major magazines are offering to pay a lot of money for that story, which would prejudice the State's case; the hospital wants her to return to work, but she is afraid she may make mistakes; the Philippine consulate wants to control her actions, but she wants to make her own decisions. Demonstrating remarkable integrity, Cora, who comes from a very poor family, turns down all offers of paid interviews and firmly states that she wants only “to honor the memory of my friends.”

In the first of many bold moves, Martin decides he must “kidnap” Cora and her mother and cousin, who have been flown to Chicago from the Philippines by an American magazine, and place them in the witness protection program under 24/7 police protection at an undisclosed location. As the months pass, Cora puts her trust in her well-chosen police bodyguards, “Jacques” and “Jeem,” as she calls Jack Wallenda and Jim Georgalas, and also in Martin, who brings his young children to splash around in a swimming pool with the Amurao clan.

Four months will pass before Martin begins to prepare Cora to testify. With pen and legal notepad before him, Martin is afraid he may blunder in his questioning and cause Cora to repress her memories. But with a Pepsi-Cola in hand (“I just drink Pepsi,” she says), Cora is composed and unflinching as she explains and diagrams how Speck moved the nurses about the townhouse bedrooms. She is determined to help Martin avenge the murder of her friends.

The painstaking preparation will pay off in April 1967, when Cora is reunited with Speck in a court of law. One veteran criminal reporter will describe her as “as a blend of steel and lace” and the “best trial witness I have ever seen.” Martin will have little need for his notes as he and Cora settle into a grooved routine in which Martin perfectly pitches a question and Cora perfectly throws back the answer. It is like a game of catch and both are throwing strikes. Before answering, Cora looks at Martin and then speaks directly to the jurors on her right. Using a scale model of the townhouse built by the FBI and figurines to represent the nurses, Cora explains and demonstrates to the astounded jurors precisely how the killer carried out his night of horrors. Asked by Martin if the killer is in the courtroom, Cora steps down from the witness chair, walks to within a foot of Speck, points at his pockmarked face and vacant stare, and declares in an unwavering voice: “This is the man!”

The jurors require only 49 minutes to return a death sentence.
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