August 1, 1907
July, 1907: It was decided by members of the La Mano Nera, the criminal vein that runs through LA’s Italian community, that seventeen year-old Josephine San Marco was to wed Samuel Laturco. But Josephine, thoroughly modern and resolute in matters of her own heart, would have none of it. She went on to entertain one Joseph Desparti in the parlor of her home.
Laturco, threatened with death by his own father should he not “clean out” the San Marco home, fired three rounds into the parlor. Neither Joseph nor Josephine were hit; one bullet did kill six year-old Marie San Marco. Laturco and his father, Francisco Laturco, were arrested.
And now, with the entire Italian community against her, and with threats of death piling up like unanswered mail, the dark-eyed teen has set out to avenge her tiny sister’s slaying. Under the withering, threatening gaze of the people she once loved, Josephine took the stand today to testify against the Laturci. Warned time and again that she need only wed Laturco the Younger and thereby save him from the gallows, she grits her teeth and stands in Los Angeles Superior Court alone, as all other witnesses refuse to testify.
She bears these men a hate and her sister a duty, whence comes an uncommon bravery:
“They have killed my sister, now let them look to it for their lives. I will never give up. They have abused me and threatened me and tried to compel me to marry Laturco, but they have failed. I do not fear their society. They have killed my sister and I’ll have the satisfaction for that life if I die for it. My mother fears they will murder as they say, that they will burn our home, and cause us trouble. She urged me to marry Laturco and settle the trouble. But I won’t. I have set my mind on this and I won’t back out. Let them burn and murder all they want, but the won’t head off that prosecution. I have started it and I will be there at the finish.”