You could hear the ticking of the clock hanging in the back of the courtroom and the cries of the seagulls that circled above Boston as the jurors — averting their eyes for the first time in the 50-day trial — filed past the six men in the dock. The day before, the six had been convicted in the slaying of a local hood named Edward “Teddy” Deegan. The jury was now being asked to choose between a sentence of life behind bar or death.

His voice flinty, 73-year-old Justice Felix Forte addressed the first four defendants in turn. “You are sentenced to die in the electric chair.” Undulating his hands to illustrate the chair’s 2,000-volt current, he added, “On the designated date, the electricity will run through your body until death.”

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