1899: Adrian Braun, who murdered his wife in Sing Sing


Wilkes-Barre Times, May 29, 1899.

On this date in 1899, Adrian Braun was electrcuted at Sing Sing.

Braun was a hulking German cigar-maker with a reputation for habitually thrashing his wife. Authorities got involved when he bashed a neighbor who intervened in a beating so hard that it fractured the man’s skull.

In August 1897, Braun caught a two-year sentence for assault. With her batterer put away, Kate Braun now had to shift for herself; struggling to make ends meet as a washer-woman, she had to give up two of her five children to the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Still, she scraped together enough money to buy her incarcerated husband some sweets on a prison visit.

Mr. Braun was at work peeling potatoes in the prison kitchen when he was summoned for the arrival of his spouse in March 1898. After using up their visiting time on a conversation that appeared entirely mutually affectionate, the two were about to part when Adrian Braun suddenly whipped out the potato-knife he had recently been employing and daggered the poor woman’s throat — with lethal effect.

Braun never explained his shocking crime and pursued only a half-hearted insanity defense at his ensuing trial.

“No man was ever executed at the prison who had less sympathy than was felt for Braun,” the Wilkes-Barre Times reported on the day of the man’s execution.

One thought on “1899: Adrian Braun, who murdered his wife in Sing Sing”

  1. Hello,

    Unless I mix up with another case of the same era – which is possible but I think it is the right case – I believe I had read about this story many years ago.
    What I had kept in mind was that it was this case which prompted a change in the configuration of visiting rooms in prisons.
    When Braun was visited in prison by his wife there was no physical separation. The prisoner and the person coming to visit him were in the same room and could touch each other.
    This is how Braun was able to stab his wife.
    I think to have read that one consequence of this case was that many prisons redesigned visiting rooms so that the prisoner and the visitor were separated at least by a table, each person being on opposite sides and no space under the table – to avoid objects being passed from one to the other or weapons such as knifes being hidden or used.
    Later there were even – at least in certain prisons, I don’t know in detail – a vertical plexiglas wall separating the two persons. So that they are not in the same room exactly and have to use a telephone – as we see in episodes of TV series with scenes in prison. Or perhaps there are holes in the plexiglas wall to allow communication.
    In some countries – here in France for instance – there used to be such separation devices in prison visiting rooms, until a more humane Garde des Sceaux – Minister of Justice – ( Robert Badinter in France in the 1980s ) ordered them to be removed to allow physical contact between the prisoner and his or her visitors. Under surveillance as one may expect.

    It is hard to definitely choose one system or another. One has to conciliate the safety of the visitors and prisoners and their need to have physical contact, to hear the voice of loved ones.

    Best Regards

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