The People of the State of New York v. Harry Zabransky, 13 January 1910 (Case 1082)
Fire broke out on the night of September 24, 1908, in a blacksmith’s shop at First Avenue and 99th Street. Harry Zabransky, a fruit peddler, has been indicted on a charge of arson in the 3rd degree. Jacob Levy, a truckman, testifies for the prosecution that he saw Zabransky exit a window at the front of the building just as flames broke out. Dinah Posner, 23, and her sister, Marie Rubinstein, 13, both testify that Zabransky came to their dwelling that night seeking shelter. Zabransky, smelling strongly of kerosene oil, had explained that he had set a fire on First Avenue and that he was being chased. Two witnesses, Philip Posner and David Kapochelsky, state that they had heard Zabransky say that someone had promised him $75 to burn down the blacksmith’s shop. Witnesses for the defense dispute every detail of the state’s evidence. William Lippman, a fruit peddler, and Louis Saks, a wagon builder, both state that there was no window at the front of the blacksmith’s shop. Becky Goldman, sister of the defendant; Samuel Goldman, brother-in-law; Fanny Hochfeld, aunt; and Morris Reissman, cousin, all testify that Zabransky was ill, lying in bed, suffering from a carbuncle, at the time when the fire occurred. Zabransky, testifying on his own behalf, states that Philip Posner had threatened to kill him on account of Posner’s belief that Zabransky had slept with his wife, Dinah. The defense attorney, Nathaniel Levy, claims that his client has been framed by Posner and his friends and the judge, James T. Malone, in directing the jury to acquit Zabransky, says that there is insufficient evident to convict. The jury finds the defendant not guilty.