Sept. 15, 1962 - Opening today is “Convicts Four,” prison film drama starring Ben Gazzara. The film is a fictionalized version of the life of death row convict John Resko, who wrote an autobiography called “Reprieve.” On February 5, 1931, Resko and an accomplice, Frank Mayo, killed a grocer, Samuel Friedberg, during an attempted robbery of his store in the Bronx. Resko confessed to the crime. Although he was sentenced to death, the jury recommended clemency for Resko, who was 19 and had a wife and 18-month-old daughter. Charles Winkler, the jury foreman, said Resko had been a tool “in the hands of a hardened criminal.” The death sentence was commuted by then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt to life imprisonment after Resko testified against Mayo, who was found guilty and executed on July 21, 1932. Resko became a noted artist while in prison and was freed shortly before Christmas 1949 by Governor Thomas E. Dewey.
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