the lady of sing sing



When an Italian seamstress Maria Barbella, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die for the murder of her former lover, a man who had raped and abused her she found an unlikely ally in Cora Slocomb, Countess de Brazza, who starts the first campaign against the death penalty to save Maria from the newly invented electric chair. Domenico Cataldo an Italian immigrant and shoe shine boy sat playing cards in a bar on East 13th Street with friend one bright spring morning in 1895. He was looking forward to boarding a ship leaving for Italy later that day, when his young lover, another Italian immigrant, Maria Barbella entered. After a a brief exchange “Only a pig can marry you!” Maria whipped out a straight razor she had concealed in her sleeve and slit Cataldo’s throat – so quickly he didn’t even have time to scream. He staggered out the door, clutching his neck with both hands, spraying blood everywhere, only making it as far as the gutter, before dying. Thus began the trials of Maria Barbella, who after a brief court case became the first woman in history to be sentenced to death in the electric chair.

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