A controversial crime, the assault and robbery of Harry Lehr, has occurred in Park Slope, but don’t worry — the crime dates back to September 22, 1952.
In the above photo, the four young men, Daniel McCarthy, 21, Robert Lee, 19, Donald Sarra, 21, and Joseph Kelly, 18, accused of beating up and then robbing Lehr are shown at the interrogation, where they were questioned by Assistant District Attorney Jacob Weinberg.
The photo, provided by the Brooklyn Visual Heritage, is called “Youthful Muggers Quizzed.”
The New York Court of Appeals Records and Briefs outlines the case in full detail. Lehr’s account of the case said that he was walking down the sidewalk along 7th Avenue and was approached by three men, (his story did not include the arrest of Joseph Kelly), who asked him for a cigarette. They then proceeded to beat Lehr and steal twenty-five dollars from his wallet.
The defense includes Kelly in the story. In this side, all four men were at a bar. McCarthy and Kelly left the bar first, and were standing on 7th Avenue and 11th Street when Lehr approached them to ask for a cigarette. McCarthy said that he didn’t have one, and Lehr threw the first punch, beginning a fight which eventually also involved Sarra and Lee. In this version, no robbery occurred.
The records state, “The issue of fact in this case was whether Harry Lehr was waylaid, robbed and beaten by the appellants and the respondent Lee at 4 A.M. in the morning on September 22, 1952 at the corner of 7th Avenue and 11th Street Brooklyn, as contended by the People, or whether Harry Lehr had a common street fight with the appellant McCarthy and one Robert Kelly at said time and place.”
The verdict of the case was that Sarra, Lee, and McCarthy were charged as guilty, and all three men received a minimum fifteen, maximum thirty-year jail sentence.