Charles F. Stielow

A fabricated confession and perjured ballistics testimony sent Charles Steilow to death row

Charles F. Stielow was sentenced to death for the murder of his well-to-do neighbor, Charles B. Phelps, and Phelps's housekeeper, Marjorie Wilcott, on March 12, 1915, in Orleans County, New York. His brother-in-law and co-defendant, Nelson I. Green, was sentenced to life.

The convictions rested on fabricated confessions attributed to the defendants and on the perjured testimony of a ballistics expert, who falsely testified that the victims died of bullets fired from a pistol found in Stielow's home.

The convictions were affirmed by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, which found, "From an examination of the record, it is inconceivable that the jury could have rendered any other verdict." People v. Stielow, 160 N.Y.S. 555 (1916).

Steilow and Green were exonerated and freed in 1918 principally as a result of a newspaper investigation. For details see Nelson I. Green