Spano v. New York

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Spano v. New York
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided June 1959


Spano is accused of first-degree murder. Spano was a new immigrant from Italy in the Bronx, New York. Spano was robbed by a professional boxer at a Bronx bar.

After being badly beaten by the boxer, Spano goes home, gets a handgun, and fatally shoots the boxer in front of a witness at a candy store.

Procedural History

Spano is indicted for first-degree murder 10 days after the boxer's killing. After his arrest, Spano confided in a "friend" Bruno that he had lost his control and had committed the shooting of the boxer. The friend Bruno was a police trainee who passed the information onto New York City detectives.

Spano admitted to the murder of the boxer after 8 hours of intense interrogation and transfer to a new police precinct.

Spano's confessions to the "friend" Bruno were admitted at trial, and he was sentenced to death.


Confessions should not be excluded from trials unless they are involuntary.

Spano's confessions were inadmissible.


Spano's conviction is overturned.


Earl Warren, the Chief Justice, felt it was wrong to entirely blame the murder on a new immigrant who had been badly beaten physically by the boxer and later betrayed by his so-called friend Bruno.