He was a clown that actually entertained at children’s birthday parties living in Norwood Park, Il. A well-known and well-liked community member; a trustee of the Norwood Park Twp. A suburban man who ran his own successful business. A director of the Polish Constitution Day Parade who received Secret Service clearance and a picture with the first lady, Rosalynn Carter. A man who murdered 33 young boys between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. Burying most of them under his house which is no longer. I was in college at the time and he was one of the worst in serial killers. Convicted, John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to death on March 13, 1980 for 12 of those murders. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection at Statesville Correctional Center on May 10, 1994.
And the story of Gacy begins with a phone call to a young lawyer and friend of Gacy’s. Sam Amirante describes the phone call, Sam, could you do me a favor. Sam will never forget those words. Sam had just opened his first law practice and Gacy was upset about what he thought was police harassment. Consequently, the narrative begins. Defending a Monster, published in 2011, is truly a page-turner that you cannot put down. It is Sam’s first murder case; defense attorney for one of the most disturbing men of all time.
Sam Amirante and Danny Broderick reenact the crime cases as well as the Gacy’s insane, drunken and early morning confession in Sam’s office. And the book details the excellent, but frightening story of John Wayne Gacy and the intense, intricate trial. Sam describes in a note that an attorney/ client relationship is confidential and should not be broken even after death but Gacy wanted the story told. Amirante labored over this for many years before writing the book. But there were so many rumors of John Wayne Gacy. It was important for Amirante that the historical record be set straight.
Though Amirante was threatened many times for defending Gacy, he truly feels that all have right to a trial regardless of the crime. These are principals woven into our Constitution as the authors describes in the first few pages. Every person accused of a crime has the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of his peers. No crime is too gruesome, person too dangerous or too complicated.
Danny Broderick is an author and founded the firm of the Law offices of Daniel J Broderick. Broderick represented thousands of persons charged with felony and misdemeanor charges.
I heard about Sam Amirante through a client who used his firm. Sam was an associate judge in Cook County until 2005 at the same time a special mentor of mine was also a Cook county judge who had passed away. They did know each other. I then began to research and decided to read more about the story of John Wayne Gacy since I love anything and everything about Chicago’s history. Mr. Amarante also wrote procedures adopted by the Illinois General Assembly as the Missing Child Recovery Act of 1984.